Making Sense, No. 6
Date:1989
Organisation:Workers' Party
Publication:Making Sense
Issue:Number 6
January 1989
Contributors:Seamus Murphy, Eamon Gilmore, Rosheen Callender, Eoghan Harris, Lorraine Kennedy, Liz McManus, Brian Kilmartin
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

28th July 2014

An interesting issue of the Workers’ Party magazine, Making Sense, from 1989. It has a broad range of articles, from Eamon Gilmore ‘arguing that socialists need to wake up to the realities of Ireland today’, Rosheen Callender examining labour markets, an interview with Alexander Cockburn, Lorraine Kennedy looking at the ‘myth of Mother Ireland’ and Eoghan Harris looking at the influence of Daniel Corkery ‘on the formation of modern bourgeois nationalist intellectuals’.

There’s also a short story by Liz McManus entitled ‘Baby’.

The cover article ‘Making Peace in Ireland: The responsibility of the Republic’ is by Seamus Murphy of the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice, and offers this potted outline of the history of the conflict on the island.

It is almost twenty years since the British government sent troops to Northern Ireland in the midst of serious civil disturbances. Two years later, the Provisional IRA came into being and launched a vicious campaign of violence against the Protestant population. Loyalists elements responded in kind, and politics gave way to terrorism. Efforts to find a political solution have the far failed, and the killings continue.

Murphy argues that ‘much southern confusion arises form subconscious guilt about the north’. And he continues that ‘the typical southerner… while… abhorring the appalling violence of the IRA and generally supporting the Dublin governments attempts to suppress it… cannot quite bring himself to consciously stand wight he unionist population against IRA violence or express support for the security forces in NI’.

He suggests that ‘the Republic must not lend a sympathetic ear to everyone claiming to be a spokesperson for the oppressed minority in NI. it is perfectly obvious that the democratic parties representing northern Catholics (SDLP, Alliance, WP) are engaged in a serious struggle with a fascist, authoritarian, violent and anti-democratic party (SF/IRA).

It must be made clear that every vote for SF, far from bringing the day of Irish unity closer, actually makes it more distant; it needs to be spelled out that supporting the IRA creates, not just a gulf between the two communities in NI, but a second gulf between the northern minority and the south where SF has no electoral future.

He continues that:

precisely because the south has not suffered either at the hands of loyalist paramilitary violence or by security force excesses, it has less excuse for failing to reach out to the unionist community. If the southern community is to fulfil its moral responsibility of building peace, it must resist the temptation to give in to its own emotions and take sides, and instead work at the difficult task of being an honest broker for peace.

He then suggests that were the IRA to ‘achieve a united Ireland’ it is his suspicion that most in the south would abhor the means but accept the end, even if ‘it were built on the slaughter and expulsion of thousands of the Protestant community’. From this he argues that ‘What might in the long run make a difference would be a repudiation of its goal as well as its method; if the southern community is not to be complicit in the IRA campaign, it must build a wide consensus around the position that a united Ireland attained the IRA way could never be acceptable.

Meanwhile the editorial looks at the issue of ‘fighting poverty’ and argues that:

The voice of the poor was heard to great effect in 1798, and helped give birth to democracy. It would be a fitting celebration of the French Revolution if that voice was raised in Ireland to insist that the principles of Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity were accorded more than lip service.

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  • By: Phil Mon, 28 Jul 2014 07:45:21

    I might even have that issue. Seems weirdly extreme now – repudiate the goal of a united island for the sake of sticking it to the Provos?

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  • By: Michael Carley Mon, 28 Jul 2014 09:34:12

    The weakness of the Left is due not to how the media treat us, or how we treat each other, but to our failure to analyse the real nature of Irish society, and to critically assess our political strategies.

    The last bit of sense Eamon Gilmore ever spoke.

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  • By: Jim Monaghan Mon, 28 Jul 2014 09:35:27

    “The voice of the poor was heard to great effect in 1798, and helped give birth to democracy. ” And there was me thinking the United Irishmen were defeated.

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  • By: roddy Mon, 28 Jul 2014 14:49:27

    Is’nt it shocking all together that everyone couldnt “express support for the security forces in NI” at a time when they were up to their necks in murder both directly and indirectly through collusion with Loyalists.

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  • By: roddy Tue, 29 Jul 2014 17:05:29

    I see the boul Seamus Murphy has reemerged no later than today with a letter to the Irish Times eulogising none other than John Redmond. Just about sums it all up ,does’nt it?

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