Document on Irish Liberation Submitted to World Congress of Peace Forces, Moscow 1973
Date:1973
Organisation:Sinn Féin [Official]
Publication:Repsol Pamphlets
Series:Repsol Pamphlets, Special
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

12th May 2008

So, here from 1973 is a document published by REPSOL for Official Sinn Féin as a submission to the “World Cogress of Peace Forces” in Moscow. Much of it as would be expected. Consider the references to “Ireland [joining] the so-called European Economic Community thus adding to the domination and exploitation of our people by this new modern imperialist bloc.”

The language as regards armed struggle is ambiguous. Note that it argues that “…we have realised that armed struggle on its own, or as an end in itself, is doomed to failure. Armed struggle must always be related to the needs of the people.”

Yet it continues… “The most consistent element in the Irish Republican tradition is armed resistance to British imperialism. It was only out of this armed resistance that our revolutionary vision of the Ireland of tomorrow came”

And as a nod towards Moscow’s sensitivities it argues that “It is essential that all who are involved in the National Struggle for Liberation realise that the national struggle is a people’s struggle - a class struggle”. The language as regards Britain is much stronger than might be expected, to the point that we read “There is only one issue on which practically everyone in Ireland is agreed. We do not want to be ruled by Britain. This fact must therefore be made clear and emphatic. All should unite on the demand “Britain get out”.

Indeed Tomas Mac Giolla (sans fada’s) is quoted as urging delegates to the Congress to ‘support the short and long term Republican demands which called for the withdrawal of British Troops and an end to all repression in Ireland’.

Which is interesting, but no more so than the following: “Clearly as with the British imposed arrangement of 1920, any solution which advocates the continuation of a Six or Nine County Ulster state, whether it has constitutional links with Britain, or not, must be rejected.”. A dig at PSF who had recently issued Éire Nua? More than likely. But interesting how in order to fend off the Provisionals it was necessary to ramp up the anti-British rhetoric.

It’s a brief document but a telling insight into the direction of a much harder edged ‘Republican’ stance evident in Official Sinn Féin at this point in time.

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  • By: Garibaldy Tue, 13 May 2008 11:21:36

    Was it not after 1977 and the Irish Industrial Revolution that that document was sent? There may well have been two though. The cult of the leader is ridiculous and a problem. However, I think it’s fair to say The WP has never developed it, despite De Rossa’s best efforts.

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  • By: Jim Monaghan Tue, 13 May 2008 12:48:59

    Probably. In 1973 they were still best friends.Does anyone recall the document an Ard Fheis decided they should not see.A most peculiar thing a National Conference agreeing that it was not to be trusted with a document. A touch of “see no evil, etc.”
    Thse peace conferences seemed fairly awful. I remember a report by Noel Browne on one. He sounded like the Peter sellers character in that Ealing movie, all about opera and no horrible pop music.

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  • By: ejh Tue, 13 May 2008 15:02:54

    Sounds good to me.

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  • By: Garibaldy Tue, 13 May 2008 15:21:44

    Is that a reference to something Costello produced Jim?

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Tue, 13 May 2008 16:10:21

    ejh, are you referring to JM’s last line? 🙂

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  • By: Jim Monaghan Wed, 14 May 2008 08:39:11

    The Costello doc. was a joint Costello and Garland doc. Yes they had an alliance.I was told that the Moscow jamboree played a part in weaning Garland back to Goulding and co.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Wed, 14 May 2008 13:46:06

    This is really fascinating. Anyone got a copy of it? Or know where same can be found? Interesting that Garland and Costello were allies. When did that start, clearly it ended soon after the Moscow gig.

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  • By: Jim Monaghan Wed, 14 May 2008 14:21:55

    It was a Costello/Garland axis.
    Garland was close to Gerry Foley of the American SWP. (See recnet diatribe by the Pagan O’Hagan when Garland was in Jail in the North). Garland was a sort of Hamlet figure. Mind you he threw his brother out of the American affiliate.Costello wanted the Ard Comhairle to reflect the then Costello/Garland majority. Garland did not want the old guard McGiolla and co put out to seed. he also was convinced that Costello wanted an adventure. There is a degree of truth to this. The talk was that ashort vigourous campaign could recoup losses to the Provos.
    For what it is worth I think that the Moscow thing was part of the weaning process to create distance between Garland and Costello.
    Costello was dynamic and open to the Left, though impatient with the waffle etc.
    At this stage the Goulding/McGiolla axis was supported by O’Murchu and co. They, O’Murchu and co, were then purged as Garland/Goulding/McGiolla went beyond them.
    I have to say that Ithough that McGiolla just floated ontop of things. This is just an impression.
    A minor squeezing out was Dick Spicer (now in the Humanist ssociation). Dick and were/still are friends. Dick worked in the print shop.

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  • By: Redking Wed, 14 May 2008 15:38:23

    WBS -there’s some stuff in Henry Patterson’s book (Politics of Illusion-written when he was still in the WP) about the Garland/Costello alliance in 1972/3 and the said discussion document (although obviously critical of same).

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  • By: Redking Wed, 14 May 2008 16:04:03

    Costello wanting an adventure is putting it mildly Jim, he was setting up alternative structures in preparation for going it alone and had his supporters fairly well organised.

    Basically factionalism writ large. Can’t see any Party worth its salt putting up with that. And throw in the fact that he was creating an alternative “army” with wholesale stealing of Official weapons etc.

    To be fair to Costello, he probably didn’t realise fully what he was getting into-I mean some of the characters he moved with-he really let the genie out of the bottle-subsequentt murky history of the INLA/IPLO etc kind of proves that.

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  • By: Garibaldy Wed, 14 May 2008 19:03:57

    Wasn’t this discussed at a convention before the Ard Fheis under the headings plan a and plan b, with plan b (I think it was) being defeated? Would help explain why an Ard Fheis would vote not to discuss any similar document.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Wed, 14 May 2008 21:31:44

    Cheers Redking, I seem to recall it being a bit thin though in Patterson’s recounting… Still the idea of a tactical short campaign is an interesting one. Any other sources to corroborate that?

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  • By: bill Wed, 14 May 2008 23:40:52

    Plan A and B discussion came after Garland/Costello alliance. Don’t think Garland was into having any tactical short campaign though; the alliance was on an ideological basis rather than joint military idea I imagine. Wasn’t everyone running after the Moscow connection in the early 70s? It’s a strange one that Garland the most pro-Trotskyite, at the time, of all the Stick leadership managed to land it, but there you are. Despite all the crap later I’m told Costello’s left politics where not that developed, along Trot/Tankie ideological lines.

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  • By: bill Wed, 14 May 2008 23:49:48

    Actually on a and b you maybe right Garibaldy

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  • By: Redking Thu, 15 May 2008 12:31:20

    “Still the idea of a tactical short campaign is an interesting one. Any other sources to corroborate that?”

    I’ve spoken to people who were involved in geting the IRSP/INLA off the ground in Derry in 1975/6 and what seems clear is that there was an element of the hare-brained about the notion of an intensive campaign. Firstly, the amount of equipment varied greatly from region to region-ironically in Derry where the IRPS were strong due to large defections from both the Provos and the Officials, they had virtually no guns.

    Maybe Costello’s idea was to try to take the whole of the Army with him or swing the whole movement behind himself- after 1973 a non-runner.

    After1976 there was all sorts of stuff discussed at Brigade staff level-such as a plan to (I kid you not)”liberate” the whole of the west bank of the Foyle-which many of the IRPS even thought was nuts.

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  • By: Pete Thu, 15 May 2008 13:56:15

    The Liberation of the ‘west bank’ of the Foyle dates from 1972, always one of Costello’s pet projects

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Thu, 15 May 2008 17:22:01

    Amazing idea… although…

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  • By: Jim Monaghan Fri, 16 May 2008 09:59:49

    On Redkings message.
    When groups split there is usually a dispute about the assets. Most leftwing groups argue about a secong printing press. Gerry Healy won over his opponents because he controlled the company who owned the press. Morning Star persists because of its assets.
    The IRSP was attacked by the Officials. The first killed was an IRP from the Whiterock. The Irps beat a retreat to the Diovis flats (then called the Planet of the Irps).
    I beleive this put Costello in thrawl to the militarists.The rest is a fairly painful history.
    There a paralleles with ETA where all the left splits withered on the ground compared to the militarists.
    I suppose being a Trotskyist of sorts I am immune to the worship of the USSR which still persists, the WP were even more enamoured than the CPI.
    McGurran was supposed to be the most friendly to Trotskyists.
    Costello was a pragmatist. He might have made something out of the H-Block movement.
    I was tols his Belfast people ran him ragged with demands for resources he could never deliver.

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  • By: Redking Fri, 16 May 2008 13:14:18

    Yes-I know that dynamic exists Jim, but not sure that the disputes of ultra-left microsects like the WRP can really be compared with the dramatic events of 1974-5 in OSF which was a largish party in circumstances of communal conflict in the North. To say that the stakes were much higher is to probably underestimate things.

    What happened to young Ferguson was awful and things got worse after that-I mean McMillen and others killed and maimed. I guess its easy even after 30 years to descend into a “whataboutery” about those events-BTW I’m not suggesting you’re doing that….

    Costello was a complex and interesting character and wrong on many levels-but nonetheless an important historical figure-maybe a seperate post on him wouldn’t go amiss WBS??

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Fri, 16 May 2008 17:49:46

    I’ll do my best. There are others better qualified though than I to write about him.

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