Making Sense, No. 1
Date:1988
Organisation:Workers' Party
Publication:Making Sense
Issue:Number 1
Summer 1988
Contributors:Mary Maher, Paul Bew, Paul Sweeney, Rosheen Callender, Mary McMahon, Derry McDermott, Maurice Goldring, Lorraine Kennedy
View: View Document
Discuss:Comments on this document
Subjects: Anglo-Irish Agreement, 1985 Proinsias De Rossa

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

10th February 2014

This is the first edition of Making Sense, cultural and current affairs journal of the Workers’ Party during the latter part of the 1980s and on into the very early 1990s. The editorial under the title ‘The murderers – my country’ sets the tone of the journal. It argues that:

Future studies of Irish nationalism with any claim to authority will draw heavily on the exposition of nationalist sentiment by Desmond O’Hare in Green Street Court in April. The delivery was crude but every word rang true. It got to the heart of the matter, and laid bare the anglophobia, the land hunger, and – above all – the hatred of Protestants which lie at the heart of militant Catholic nationalism. It also gave clear expression to the obsession with violence and death which has long since subsumed any progressive or positive dimension to nationalism in Ireland.

And continues:

There can no longer be any doubt as to the real intent of the various gangs who murder and maim in the name of Ireland. The aim is not to ‘bomb a million Protestants into a United Ireland’ but to terrorise them out of Northern Ireland. There should no longer be any room for ambivalence on this score.

It draws a comparison between:

Enniskillen [which] was an act of sheer terror on a par with the neo-fascist bombing of Bologna in Augst 1980 – not even the cowardly perpetrators – could condone it. The SF/IRA ‘apology’ was almost as sickening as the act it sought to disown. But the Provisionals cannot disown murder; they are in the business of murder and it is the business they obviously intend to continue.

And it suggests that:

In this they will be encouraged by the invitation to talks with the SDLP, and by the possibility of an invitation to ta ‘constitutional conference’ a la Charles Haughey. There are those who argue that any effort to secure peace is justified. So it is, but the Provisionals have asserted that peace will only come about following a British withdrawal. (This, of course, is typical Provisional double-talk. British withdrawal in the present climate would lead to a sectarian bloodbath).

The contents gives some insight into the dynamics of the party during that period. There is an interview with newly elected President of the WP, Proinsias de Rossa. Paul Bew discusses the Anglo-Irish Agreement, signed three years before. Rosheen Callendar argues that social insurance pensions for the self-employed ‘are right in principle, but wrong in practice’. Mary McMahon looks at West Belfast. Barry McDermott examines the British Tory party and there is also an article by Victor Kiselev ‘a senior research associated of the Institute of Economcis of the World Socialist System’ on the ‘evolution of the theory of socialism and its application’. Add to this book reviews and a piece on Irish cinema.

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  • By: gracchus44 Mon, 10 Feb 2014 13:57:57

    The WP were hamstrung in opposing the horrors being unleashed by PSF by being themselves being enmeshed in the SF/ Kremlin ideology so that they seemed to be pursuing an internal SF feud rather than an honourable cause.

    An important point here is that PSF did not seek a British withdrawal full stop (like , for instance , General Giap did successfully with the US in Vietnam). Rather their war aim was for Britain to issue a declaration of intent that it would depart a decade or so hence.

    let us tease this out a bit. Roughly what would such a declaration result in ? Surely a rush to join the IRA (as happened c.1921 in perceived similar circumstances) . Surely a corresponding rush to join the UVF on the other side. Surely heightened tensions , incidents , reprisals. Surely the British Army would have to suppress the armed opposition to its government’s policy. Surely there would have to be wholesale massive collusion / cooperation between the now pro government IRA and the British forces. Would not this entail the british army turning into an auxiliary force for a rabidly ethnic cleansing IRA.? surely this would cause problems in Scotland/ Britain / the british armed forces. To persist, would not the British Government have to become a de facto Hibernian fiefdom.

    Having succeeded in going someway along these lines, what would become of the ‘nationalism’ of the northern catholics?The ‘nationalism’ of the catholics just as the ‘unionism’ of the protestants is not innate but rather a function of the basic communal antagonism. The ‘nationalism’ of the catholics would vanish with the vanishing of protestant power/ presence. The ‘nationalism’ of the north is a ‘united Ireland’ ‘nationalism’ not united Irish separatist nationalism nor even catholic Irish separatist nationalism. It simply seeks to turn the tables on protestant majoritarianism by imposing a catholic majoritarianism. there is nothing of self-reliance in this ‘nationalism’. the guiding principles of northern catholic politics has been the invocation of British metropolitan redress / overriding of orange goings on. and secondly an insatiable appetite for cross-channel exchequer transfers.

    Past experience also suggests an absence of internal harmony among the bloodied armed jobless vets following the dawn of liberation and a continued urgent clamour / requirement for continued British money and military involvement.

    I therefore suggest that this talk of a ‘declaration of intent’ is a ball of smoke, a trick of the loop – that has no separatist content whatever.

    I further contend that the invocation of Kremlin influence/ model/ assistance by the WP is but another manifestation of our endemic hibernianism that had nothing to do with the cause of labour or separatism. once the Kremlin and its empire imploded its would be WP satellite followed suit.

    The Russians are on the say (or the Spanish / French / Americans/ Libyans / Koreans / … )
    says the shan van vocht.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Bob Smiles Tue, 11 Feb 2014 09:16:56

    Good point about feud aspect – don’t agree with the rest

    Reply on the CLR