Workers' Weekly, Vol. 2, No. 8
Date:27th July 1974
Organisation:Workers' Association (see British and Irish Communist Organisation)
Publication:Workers' Weekly
Issue:Volume 2, Number 8
View: View Document
Discuss:Comments on this document
Subjects: SDLP

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

24th November 2008

As mentioned a couple of weeks back on this  thread, here is Workers Weekly, a publication of the Workers Association, also of the British and Irish Communist Organisation. This dates from July 1974.

I have a few more of these which I will post up in future months, but I think this gives an useful insight into the political position of BICO during the early 1970s. Worth noting their stance as regards the UDA and the SDLP in the aftermath of Sunningdale. Worth noting also the following sentence…

‘Granted that Catholics are not likely to be voting for out and out unionists in the near future, the Loyalists have at least attempt [sic] to get through to the SDLP, if only make it clear to all concerned (including the Catholics) that it is only their inability to get rid of their aspirations that is standing in the way of a peaceful settlement’.

They appear entirely antagonistic to a Council of Ireland and dismissive of internment and its pernicious impact on Nationalists in the North. Or how about the following?

“The Civil Rights agitation itself was an attempt to divert attention away from the need for the Catholic community to drop its anti-partitionism and integrate fully into society in Northern Ireland. Instead of facing up to the fact that their isolation from society was due to their leaders continually campaigning for destruction of the state, they insisted on blaming the ‘other side’ and attributing their (largely self-imposed) isolation solely to ‘Unionist bigotry’.”

Or what of this attitude to Irish culture?

As socialists, we have always imagined that everyone would be better off under socialism, which would be even more efficiently organized on an even larger scale than capitalism. If however socialism means confinement in a tight little turf-powered economy with everybody speaking a language that is of merely antiquarian interest to the rest of Europe, then we’ll be quite happy to settle for capitalism (and for that matter, ‘imperialism’), until something better comes along.

I leave it for your consideration.

For a further interesting - if subjective - analysis of BICO this is worth a visit .

More from Workers' Weekly

Workers' Weekly in the archive


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  • By: WorldbyStorm Fri, 12 Dec 2008 19:21:44

    slawomir, let’s not forget that you too are anonymous. As long as there is nothing libelous said and/or it does not impinge on the guidelines already stated I’d say that what Starkadder, or indeed your good self, is doing is fair comment. If any of those who are involved have a problem they have my email address. I’ve noted previously that I agree with you that on the abortion issue there was no compunction on Pat Muldowney to say anything and in that respect Starkadder was wrong. But for the rest?

    This is discussion about political positions taken across decades. Exactly the same sort of discussion is conducted about other parties and groupings and events. And it is relevant in so far as the IPR/AHS appears to have taken not merely positions in direct contradiction to earlier ones, which as you say is not entirely unique, but to couch them in a sort of language which is typical of their earlier pronouncements that dances on the edge of frankly quite strange stuff which one can only construe as being willfully provocative (consider again the comparison of Hitler as giving speeches with a political content on a par with Lenin).

    To my mind, it’s an absurdity to suggest there is something malign or sinister about Starkadders questions or comments regarding the public activities of IPR or other related individuals. He may not be their biggest fan but that’s a different issue. I too would hope, for instance, that all is well with Chekov Feeney and I also hope that he’s active. If Starkadder said something about their private actions – well then I’d intervene.

    When people act publicly in respect to political positions then I think that’s entirely reasonably a source of interest. Particularly in the context of a group like BICO and it’s successors which has – and despite your sterling defence – quite evidently changed its position radically over decades.

    In any case, what on earth is the point of the IPR and AHS putting forward opinions into the public space and having its members make pronouncements on precisely these matters if you don’t want a) a response and b) some engagement?

    Either you want engagement and debate, or you don’t. But in this day and age it is inevitable that others will question and critique.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: ejh Fri, 12 Dec 2008 19:27:12

    your satirical point that it is a “herd of independent minds”.

    Ha, I missed that before. Very good.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Starkadder Fri, 12 Dec 2008 19:57:53

    For the record,

    a) I believe abortion should be legal and available to
    any woman that needs it,

    b) Charles Joseph Haughey was the worst Prime Minister the Republic of Ireland ever had-

    *a man who embezzled money to buy luxury
    goods while preaching “belt-tightening”,

    *a hypocrite on morality-a man who made a personal message on the importance of the traditional family during the divorce referendum-after returning from an extra-martial liasion with Terry Keane (something the infamous IRP editorial dismisses as living in the “Continental manner”-but Haughey championed Christian morality in public while breaking one of its key rules in private.Either
    Haughey should have not committed adultey, or else he should have
    been less dogmatic on the divorce issue).

    *A hypocrite on NI-he opposed the Anglo-Irish Agreement in opposition but worked it in government in the late 1980s. Thus
    Haughey was continued the “Inference” and “polarisation” the IPR editoral complains that Fitzgerald and Spring caused.

    c) Roger Casement was a promiscuous homosexual, and many (though not all) of the Casement forgery theorists are unhappy with
    the idea of an Irish nationalist hero behaving like this-I suspect this
    would not be an issue if Casment were a Dutch or French nationalist
    hero.

    P.S.Can we look forward to an article in the Irish Political Review
    calling us all “West Brits” and “Stickies” ?

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Slawomir Fri, 12 Dec 2008 21:27:18

    Starkadder,
    a) You haven’t answered my question on abortion. Do you believe that it is okay for a woman to have an abortion after 8 months?

    b) The vast bulk of Haughey’s wealth was based on private donations. I don’t see how this can be called embezzlement. Haughey took a position on divorce in the specific circumstances of 1986. As anyone who participated in this referendum will remember there were other issues besides Catholic morality. There was also the issue of property rights.

    I don’t see how having an affair is anyone’s business apart from those directly involved. He never looked for a divorce for himself. For someone who appears to be anti-Catholic you adopt a very high moral tone in relation to the sexual foibles of others. There is nothing at all incompatible with having an affair and being against divorce. Indeed, quite the opposite.

    On Northern Ireland there has to be continuity in affairs of State. The point is that Haughey did not exacerbate sectarian tensions.

    c) You are entitled to your view on the authenticity of the Black diaries. But if you believe in them, you must also accept that not only was Casement a promiscuous homosexual, but also a paedophile and exploiter of young men in the third world.

    On your P.S. I doubt it.

    WBS,
    I did not call for suppression of debate as you seem to imply. I asked you a question at the end of my post (101) and you have answered it.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Starkadder Fri, 12 Dec 2008 22:49:58

    [Starkadder,
    [a) You haven’t answered my question on abortion. Do you believe that it is okay for a woman to have an abortion after 8 months?]

    I fail to see how this is relevant,but no,it isn’t.

    [b) The vast bulk of Haughey’s wealth was based on private donations. I don’t see how this can be called embezzlement.]

    There was the unfortunate matter of the money for Brian
    Lenihan, which Saint Charlie took cash from the medical fund
    to spend on himself (T. Ryle Dwyer refers to
    a surplus of £71,000 missing from the medical funds). And the
    simple fact is Haughey abused his position as an Irish Politician
    to increase his own wealth and power (threatening AIB when the
    they asked him to honour his debts in 1976) taking
    private donations from people like Ben Dunne.And doing nothing
    to improve the lot of the ordinary Irish person (look at the disgusting way he treated the hemophiliacs in 1989!).

    [There is nothing at all incompatible with having an affair and being against divorce. Indeed, quite the opposite.]

    So,Do you think it is okay for an Irish Prime Minister to lie in public
    about his support for the traditional family and the Catholic Church’s
    moral teachings-and that such teachings should be retained
    within the Irish Constituiton-whie disobeying them in
    private? At least Bertie Ahern was honest about his less-than-De Valeran martial state.

    Do you think wealthy Irish nationalists should be exempt
    from the teachings of the religion they aggressive champion? Are
    you aware that after the divorce referendum was lost in 1986
    (thanks in part to Haughey’s position), the Ulster Unionists said it proved the “sectarian” nature of the Irish Republic?

    Do you believe it acceptable for certain married men (Like Haughey) to have sexual congress with other Women without the consent of their wives-and the wife should not even have the option of divorcing the Unfaithful husband either?Are these ideas
    “not incompatible”? It’s not just Catholics who would find Haughey’s martial behaviour objectionable,as you imply.

    Interesting morality you have,Slawomir.
    A Touch of Nietzsche or Carlyle in the IPR’s attitude to Kinsealy’s not-so-great man.

    I have also mentioned three times that the Irish Political Review referred to people who disagree with their opinions as “Hyenas”
    “Not democratic”, “bananas”(mentally ill) and other insulting epithets.

    In the course of this thread, you have also ordered me to apologise for criticizing the B&ICO/IPR group and have called me
    “Simple-minded” (Post 95),a “censor”, a “gossip” and dismissed
    detailed researches into a the past and development of a political organization as “pathetic”. (Post 101).

    I have often discussed the B&ICO & IPR on the CDL,along
    without groups-some people have disagreed with my opinions on them,some who supported their past or current positions, but none of them had ever accused me of “misrepresentation” or hurled cheap insults at me. Indeed, most of them were fairly polite and we had interesting discussions.

    I was wondering if I had gone too far in accusing you of being
    a bully, but your behaviour simply confirms it.

    I don’t like a publication with aspirations to respectability
    (Political Review)
    calling people it disagrees with “hyenas” (God knows, even
    people I very strongly disagree with,like RDE and Harris don’t deserve it!)-it coarsens the discourse of Irish politics to use such playground bully language. It was unacceptable when the ’90s Sunday Independent did it, and it is equally unacceptable when the Irish Political Review does it.

    It’s like arguing with a Scientologist. .

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: slawomir Sat, 13 Dec 2008 00:32:40

    a) Well at least we can agree on one point. We’re against abortion after 8 months. The relevance is that Pat Muldowney is also against abortion after 8 months. The purpose of his letter all those years ago was that – rightly or wrongly – he felt that by comparing a human foetus to a rabbit foetus the ultimate logic of Church & State’s position was that abortion was justified up until full term. Pat Muldowney is not “very anti-abortion” as you claimed. It was a misrepresentation.

    b) I don’t remember Haughey aggressively championing Catholic Morality. Growing up in the 1970s I remember Haughey as being a liberal in relative terms. He was criticised for introducing the “Irish solution to an Irish problem”. But this made it easier for Barry Desmond to liberalise the law in 1985. The demand for contraception was on the political agenda following the McGee judgment in 1974. But nothing was done about it by the Labour/FG coalition government of 1973 – 1977.

    Regarding his treatment of women, he introduced the Succession act in the 1960s which gave some protection for women whose husbands wanted to leave their money to the Church (or mistresses).

    I am really impressed by your high moral tone. For example:

    “Do you believe it acceptable for certain married men (Like Haughey) to have sexual congress with other Women without the consent of their wives …”.

    I really like the “sexual congress” bit. A nice touch! But in answer to your question I don’t think it is my business. I am not a priest or a “cultist”. I believe divorce should be made available, but as to what goes on in specific marriages, I don’t want to know. Incidentally, I don’t believe divorce should be contingent on proving the unfaithfulness of the husband or wife.

    Regarding the Lenihan liver transplant, it is largely a private matter between the Lenihan family, the Haugheys and the private donors. I know Conor Lenihan has said publicly that the Lenihans appreciated Haughey’s effort to set up the fund in the first place.

    c) You seem to have gone all quiet on the Casement Diaries?

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Gomez Tue, 16 Dec 2008 18:54:01

    Starkadder:
    “BTW,do you still believe it is acceptable to refer to critics of
    Charles Haughey as “hyenas”, “And O’Toole, in his Savanarola act, is unquestionably bananas.,” “envious petty bourgeoisie”,”not democratic” (IRP,July 2006) etc.?”

    Sadly, Starkadder, that’s far from the most objectionable thing the
    Irish Political Review has printed. From the December 2004 editorial
    “Crusading Against Evil”:

    http://www.atholbooks.org/archives/pastipr/dec04.php

    **….the case of Margaret Hassan excited more disgust: was she not dedicated to the welfare of the Iraqi people? But the matter was more complicated than appeared. Margaret Hassan had worked for the British Council in Iraq before the 1991 war, and subsequently she became Director of Care in Iraq. The British Council is a propaganda organisation of the British State committed to furthering its interests world-wide. Care is a “non Governmental Organisation” engaged in charitable works. But, during the 1990s, it came to rely very heavily on Government funding. The chief contributor of its multi-million budget is the United States Government, with the British Government running a close second. Contributions from charitably-inclined members of the public now account for only a fraction of its huge budget. It is now a state-funded body, and it is therefore natural that it should render services to the States which fund it. And those services are rendered in areas where the states themselves are regarded with hostility.
    A few years ago Care was found to have engaged in espionage activities on behalf of the United States in Kossovo. Despite that, and despite the refusal of Care as an organisation to condemn the present invasion of Iraq, Margaret Hassan continued in active membership. She condemned the invasion, but that was only a personal gesture. The organisation whose activities in Iraq she directed tacitly supported the invasion, engaged in normalising activities under the Occupation, and refused to withdraw when the Iraqi resistance indicated that all such activity would be treated as hostile.**

    This is just wrong!

    Hassan’s activities included teaching English in Iraq with the British Council,(a diplomatic group,like the German Goethe Institute) and she lost her BC job after the Gulf War in 1991.
    She gave medicine to sick Iraqi children in 1998.She was also critical
    Of the UN sanctions against Iraq.Before her abduction, she was
    working in a clinic to treat Iraqis with spinal injuries.
    Of course she was dedicated to the welfare of the Iraqi people!

    CARE runs
    pro-feminist And anti-poverty programs across the world as well as charity activities-Hassan’s death forced them out of Iraq.

    And note how the IPR dismisses Hassan’s own strong opposition to the Iraq War as a “personal gesture”,and CARE’s charity work for
    injured Iraqi civilians are denounced as “normalising activities”.

    (A brutal tyrant and a bloody US_UK invasion will do a lot to de-normalise the medical care of any society)

    Hundreds of ordinary Iraqis protested against her kidnapping-I suppose they were all dupes of “Ameranglia” as well?

    That well-known apologist for Anglo-American imperialism Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin stated about Hassan’s death:

    “Her cruel captivity and death serve no cause.Her dedicated service to and embrace of the Iraqi people for over 30 years only emphasises the outrage of her murder.”

    http://www.anphoblacht.com/news/detail/7436

    The result of Hassan’s execution was to worsen the plight of civilians
    In Iraq zones as the aid agencies pulled out. (And note, we still don’t know who killed Hassan,or what their motive was).

    This IPR editorial is quite disturbing, in its attempts to smear a deceased charity worker as an assistant of Anglo-American imperialism. I would say any magazine that publishes an editorial
    (and not just an article by a single author,which would be bad
    enough) like this needs serious questions asked about it.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: WorldbyStorm Tue, 16 Dec 2008 20:58:46

    On a slightly less tragic note, there’s the story of the helpful young Russian functionary in St. Petersburg who in the early 90s was central to setting up a British Council office there. Sadly more recently he was central to ensuring it was shut down again… His name? Vladimir Putin…

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Dunne and Crescendo Wed, 17 Dec 2008 07:45:49

    Look the IPR supported the Hutu in Rwanda as well. And Hitler didn’t start the Second World War. And German imperialism before 1914 wasn’t even imperialism. And lately the Jews were entirely innocent victims of the Nazis because the Balfour Declaration made them a hostile nation or something. Someone said earlier that when they see the IPR championing Irish nationalist causes they say ‘welcome home’. I say whats the catch? And what agenda is now at play?

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Slawomir Thu, 18 Dec 2008 08:25:44

    I note that Gomez has not disputed the main facts in the article:

    a) Care’s chief donor is the United States Government followed by the British Government

    b) It was involved in spying in Kosovo.

    c) Care as an organisation did not oppose the invasion, whatever about what individual Care workers thought.

    Gomez disagrees with the IPR about the role of the British Council. Whatever about what Putin thought in the 1990s I doubt that the Russian dispute with the British Council in 2008 was about Shakespeare. The British Council is the organisation involved in promoting the wearing of the poppy in this country as a means of promoting a British imperialist view of the First World War. Remembrance Day (or is it week) commemorates British Soldiers who have died in all British Wars. That includes the Black and Tan War.

    Imperialism has never been just about bombs and guns. It has always had its ideological wing (missionaries and assorted do-gooders) to sweeten the pill. In recent years it has tagged on progressives such as feminists to justify military invasion of Afghanistan (it couldn’t do that for Iraq because that country was largely secular and it was the invasion that released Islamic fundamentalist tendencies).

    I don’t know what point Gomez is trying to make by saying:

    “(A brutal tyrant and a bloody US_UK invasion will do a lot to de-normalise the medical care of any society)”

    If Sadaam Husein is supposed to be the “brutal tyrant”, he can hardly be blamed for “de-normalising” medical care. He built up a decent health care system before the first Gulf War. The responsibility for “de-normalising” the health system rests with the forces of Anglo-American imperialism and their allies. “De-normalisation” (what a polite word!) did not result just from the 2003 invasion, but also the sanctions after the First Gulf War which according to Fred Halliday of the United Nations resulted in the death of up to 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of 5.

    The death of Margaret Hassan was a personal tragedy for her family, but it does not negate her role in the apparatus of Anglo-American imperialism in Iraq

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: PJ Callan Thu, 18 Dec 2008 09:48:46

    At post 93 – “Praise of Hitler’s “coherent arguments” is still praise of Hitler”

    No one comes to power in any country except as the representative of one class or another. For the German bourgeoisie nazism was certainly “coherent” as it expressed their specific class interests.

    You are clutching at straws if you think that the recognition of this fact constitutes “praise of Hitler”

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Gomez Thu, 18 Dec 2008 17:33:26

    “Slawomir:
    “b) It (CARE) was involved in spying in Kosovo.”

    This is a serious allegation:do you have a citation for it? There’s none
    in the IPR editorial (bad journalism-to make a serious charge
    against a group without a reference to proof of it).

    The article also gives the implication that Hassan was killed by the
    the “Iraqi resistance”-“the Iraqi resistance indicated that all such activity would be treated as hostile.”

    In fact, as of December 2008, we still don’t know the full circumstances of Hassan’s death. Even
    a member of the “Iraqi resistance” , the Al-Qaeda
    member Abu Musab Zarqawi,called for her release.

    There’s also the argument that a group giving medical aid in a disaster area becomes an active act of imperialism if the money comes from a state government.

    Does the IRP’s criticism of CARE’s funding (US-UK) apply to say, Saudi or Chinese-funded charities as well?

    I accept your regret over Hassan’s death,but no such sentiments
    are present in the actual IPR article,about either Hassan or
    Ken Bigley’s deaths.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Slawomir Thu, 18 Dec 2008 19:24:04

    Gomez,

    I didn’t write the article so I can’t say what information the author had re: spying. But a quick search of the internet reveals the following:

    http://www2.reliefweb.int/rw/RWB.NSF/db900SID/ACOS-64BFDA?OpenDocument

    I’m interested in the following comment:

    “There’s also the argument that a group giving medical aid in a disaster area becomes an active act of imperialism if the money comes from a state government.
    Does the IRP’s criticism of CARE’s funding (US-UK) apply to say, Saudi or Chinese-funded charities as well?”

    With respect that is a curious use of words: “disaster area”? The area is a “disaster” because it has been pounded by the forces of Anglo-American imperialism with the weaponry at their disposal.

    I have no objection in principle to an American, Saudi or Chinese Government funded charity giving medical aid in the case of a natural disaster. The appropriate conduit for medical aid in a war situation is the Red Cross or Red Crescent.

    It appears that an element of the Iraqi resistance was responsible for the death of Hassan (if you believe it was the Americans or British I would like to see your references). I neither support nor condemn the killing of Hassan. It is not up to me to tell the Iraqis how they should conduct their legitimate struggle against imperialism in their country.

    Finally, I respect your anonymity. I cannot do otherwise since I am anonymous. But what is the reason for your interest in this subject?

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Paddy Crerand Thu, 18 Dec 2008 21:02:23

    Up the Hutu. Up David Irving. UP the Kaiser. UP the killers of Robert McCartney. Up the IPR, viva, viva IPR, the best thing to come out of Athol Street since Workers Weekly, viva viva IPR, Angela and Brendan, Jack and Pat, all revising their past and giving us crap, viva viva IPR.
    A Christmas tune. (Knees up Mother Brown).

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: WorldbyStorm Thu, 18 Dec 2008 21:23:13

    That’s a bit coat-trailing slawomir to enquire as to whether gomez has a specific interest. So what if s/he did, or doesn’t. I don’t and I think the IPR line is unpleasant and barmy, particularly the idea that Margaret Hassan had any functional – nice dehumanising phrase this too – “role in the apparatus of Anglo-American imperialism in Iraq”.

    PJ, it may not be praise but it’s certainly moving towards an intellectual position that is suspect. If, that is, it hasn’t already arrived. Again – and I’m not addressing this to you – , the idea that Hitler was the intellectual equal of Lenin? Gimme a break.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: PJ Callan Fri, 19 Dec 2008 05:33:04

    He wasnt close to VI in intellectual terms but the content of his ideas expressed in exact form the aspirations of the most reactionary section of the German bourgeoisie. I dont think the statement in any way is “moving towards” anything like support for Hitler.

    As far as I know B Clifford does not pretend to be a communist these days but others connected with IPR have written about reviving the Bolshevik tradition.

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  • By: sara Fri, 03 Jul 2009 06:37:32

    good info

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    […] Irish Communist Organization. Basically the brains behind Unionism/Revisionism in the 26 counties. The Irish Left Archive: Workers Weekly,Workers Association, British and Irish Communist Organisation… So can you recommend any good Unionist histories of the origin of the […]

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  • By: Irish Left Archive: Northern Ireland – For Workers’ Unity: A reply to the Workers’ Association Pamphlet [BICO] “What’s wrong with Ulster Trade Unionism”, Militant, c. « The Cedar Lounge Revolution Mon, 13 Dec 2010 07:56:23

    […] are some Workers Association leaflets already in the Archive. The analysis in the Militant document provides […]

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  • By: Anton Sun, 18 Sep 2011 08:06:43

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