Teoiric, 1975
Date:1975
Organisation:Sinn Féin [Official]
Publication:Teoiric
Issue:
Contributors:Eamonn Smullen, Máirín de Burca
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Discuss:Comments on this document
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

8th February 2010

Thanks to PW for forwarding the following document and for what he has written in order to contextualise it… It demonstrates trends that have been pointed out elsewhere as well as the fluidity of the situation at that point in time. In a sense this can be seen as transitional, positioned between OSF and the WP…

This edition of Teoiric is undated but almost certainly the last quarter of 1975. It’s an interesting Journal showing the Official Republican Movement on the cusp of Policy and Organisational changes that would eventually lead to what is now known as the Workers Party.

There are four articles, two by the late Eamonn Smullen, one of which ’ What is the IRSP ’ is underlined as Party policy. An article by Donal O’Neill on education which is also Party policy. Máirín de Burca writes on the history of the Irish Women’s Movement. Smullen contributes a second article on the Irish Economy which is not described as Party Policy.

Given the revelations of disputes in the Movements Leadership in ’ The Lost Revolution ’ recently in which Smullens Industrial Department is reported as ‘Contemptuous towards what it saw as Liberal, middle-class concerns regarding gender ’ the inclusion of de Burcas article could be a case of the editor ‘holding the ring ’ between different factions within the Movement.

Máirín de Burca contributes a fascinating account of the development of the Women’s movement and it’s struggles and of the personalities involved. That most of the policy demands of the Movement were eventually adopted by SFWP alongside the Economic Policy promoted by the Industrial Department this perhaps demonstrates that de Burca’s eventual resignation from the party was a pyrrhic victory for Smullen and his supporters.

Rereading the article ’ What is The IRSP’ more than 30 years on what struck me was the conviction of the Official Republican Leadership that an active counter revolution had been launched by the British and Irish establishments to derail the movements policies.

Most people on the Left are no doubt aware of the allegations that the Provisionals were created by elements close to Fianna Fail as a counter Revolutionary force from the Right. Here Smullen articulates the view that the IRSP was a counter revolutionary force on the far or ultra Left. Given the deaths and woundings in the recent conflict with the IRSP, bitterness might have been expected. Smullens approach though is clinical and focused. Seamus Costello is hardly mentioned. Smullen places the formation of the IRSP and the actions of some of it’s members, the name INLA had yet to be announced in the context of British Military policy.

’ When a Revolutionary Movement is growing in strength there are always serious efforts to disrupt it from the ‘Left’ as well as from the Right. To disrupt serious Revolutionary Movements from the Left is now the admitted strategy of Reaction, this view is expressed by Reactions Military Wing( General Kitsons Writings) who are usually less cautious in their statements than the Right Wing politicians.’

Here Smullen refers to Frank Kitson . Kitson earned his ‘spurs’, if you like, during the Mau Mau Insurgency in Kenya. He was the author of ‘Low Intensity Operations’ which advocated the use of ‘Counter Gangs’ against Insurgents. As the crisis in the North escalated in 1969 Kitson was rapidly promoted first to Colonel then to Brigadier General. Coincidentally you may think, he was given command of 39 Brigade the British Army formation that covered Belfast and much of the North. Needless to say Republicans and people on the Left were concerned that the North was being used as a testbed for these counter-insurgency tactics.

Smullen seems to be implying that the IRSP are in fact a ‘counter gang’, This is interesting as some people who supported the IRSP or the Provisionals still accuse the OIRA/WP of these activities.

Smullen then widens the context of his article in a new direction altogether to include Andre Marty of COMINTERN and International Brigades fame.

’ The French Working Class had a previous experience of this sort. Andre Marty who led the mutiny in the French Black Sea Fleet during the war of intervention against the young Soviet State….Called on the French Communist Party to seize power in 1948, such a policy would, at that time have given the French Establishment the opportunity they so badly wanted to destroy the serious Working Class opposition in France. Andre Marty was later exposed as a Political Police Agent’

So where is the connection and who is Smullen comparing with Marty? Smullen doesn’t say directly.[perhaps indicative of a concern on the part of OSF as to how the situation might pan out subsequently - wbs]

’ At the same time (1969) a serious effort was made by Ultra Left elements to infiltrate our Movement. These Ultra Left people came here from Britain and from the USA. We also had a few who were home-grown. The main efforts to infiltrate….were made in Derry, Donegal and Belfast.’

And then…

’ The Donegal effort was made mainly by a Trotskyite from the US, this person organised classes and….Factional activity inside the Movement in Derry….Several years of damaging activity against our movement was organised by a person sent to this country to do this work for the Establishment.’

Smullen is, short of naming the person, making it clear who he means. Then more.

’ Ultra Left Organisations in Britain IS (International Socialists) for example sent and for a time paid agents who came here for the express purpose of interfering in Irish Left Politics. Some of these people are without doubt agents of the British Establishment….These people are journalists by training and occupation…’

Again this comes close to actually naming people.

’ We know and anyone who has seriously examined the evidence knows that after the Ultra Left failure to capture our Movement at the 1973 Ard Feis, a plan to murder the principled Leadership of our Movement began to take shape in Ultra Left circles. The plot originated in the Derry-Donegal area.’

This was particularly interesting. The late Johnie White, one of the people in Derry-Donegal that Smullen is attacking, and who initially for a time was prominent in the IRSP in later years made much the same allegation but claimed the plot originated with the late Captain Kelly  some years earlier.

So Stalinist paranoia? True, partly true or a product of its time?

‘Education and the Murder Machine ’ makes a number of interesting points. Internal Party education should of course reflect the kind of society the party wishes to create. A brutal analysis of the current education system designed to service Capitalism follows.

In retrospect the prominence given to internal education here and it’s importance anticipates the Movements transformation into a revolutionary party with a coherent Ideology.

Smullen’s contribution on Economic Policy illustrates the thinking that came to fruition some time later in the ’ Irish Industrial Revolution ‘. The development of Irelands considerable Natural Resources to provide employment is at the centre of the plans.

This has some resonance with the economic crisis in Ireland today: 35 years on. Then as now our natural wealth is given away for virtually nothing to Multi-Nationals while the Gombeen class pick up the crumbs. However it is not just a case of creating employment.

The objective aim here is to create a working class that will in the future create a Socialist Revolution in Ireland.

Finally, this points to the position that British Imperialism has been replaced by Anglo American Imperialism whose prerogatives are completely different. This approach would of course later be criticised as ’ Economist ’ and even a ’ Two Nations ’ theory.

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  • By: NollaigO Mon, 08 Feb 2010 14:15:24

    Agreed, Jim.

    Such a demented rant!

    I’m pleased that WbS linked to IPR’S defence of Captain Kelly.

    I never knew about the Marti episode but have found this very informative link. Needless to point out there is no substantive evidence that Marti was ever a police agent.
    http://www.marxists.org/history/etol/writers/pearce/1957/11/marty.html#n1

    Two further points:
    (1) The idea that a document like that is voted on and becomes party policy. Marc Mulholland, in his document on his time in the Socialist Party, also discusses this issue.
    (2) The Spooks: I don’t for a moment doubt that they are continuously active in radical groups. In fact, we probably don’t realise how good they are. It is easy to work out the type of organisation within which they flourish – ones that that have ranters like Smullen, The Divil or Thomas Gerard Healy.

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  • By: jc Mon, 08 Feb 2010 14:26:33

    Jim,

    I am interested by the idea of there being active CPI infiltration of OSF. I don’t recall TLR mentioning anything of the sort (although there was movement between the groups, suggesting that they were drawing on the same milieu). Do you know any specifics or what the strategy behind it was?

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  • By: Neil Mon, 08 Feb 2010 15:13:40

    Sadly the habit of fingering political opponents as police agents is still alive and well in certain parts of the Left over here in Britain. I’ve seen and heard those of a Stalinist persuasion say on a number of occasions some of the ‘ultra left’ in the anti war movement were state agents or ‘agent provocateurs’.

    Plus ça change…

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  • By: Paul Wilson Mon, 08 Feb 2010 15:40:32

    JC

    Most of the movement was the other way into the CPI from OSF among Dublin factions who left in the 70’s as detailed in TLR. By the late 70’s there were serious differences between both parties towards the North. I was in the CPGB at the time and this was reflected in the Morning Stars coverage of the North. All of a sudden Chris Myant dropped any mention of the Officials, this would be about 77.

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  • By: Paul Wilson Mon, 08 Feb 2010 15:51:58

    NollaigO

    ‘(2) The Spooks: I don’t for a moment doubt that they are continuously active in radical groups. In fact, we probably don’t realise how good they are. It is easy to work out the type of organisation within which they flourish – ones that that have ranters like Smullen, The Divil or Thomas Gerard Healy’

    I think you left out the Provos, we now know they were systematically infiltrated at a very high level by the Brits. The INLA as well were wrecked by a substantial number of ‘Supergrasses’ from amongst their own ranks, it would appear to me that the Spooks flourished in those two organisations.

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  • By: jake/joan Mon, 08 Feb 2010 15:59:56

    would this be an opportune moment to remind your readers, since people like WBS probably won’t, that the official ira decommissioned its weapons today? i mention it because while we’re on the subject of lying and dirty tricks on the left, people ought to be reminded that this act of decommissioning is actually an impossibility because, as people like sean ‘don’t forget the vaseline’ garland told the world repeatedly for many years, the official ira disbanded and went out of existence in 1972! so how could they have guns to decommission?

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  • By: Paul Wilson Mon, 08 Feb 2010 16:05:23

    Jake/Joan

    I think you will find that it was the INLA who decommissioned today.

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  • By: Definitely Not Mark P Mon, 08 Feb 2010 16:22:56

    Let me take this opportunity to whine under a new name about the appalling failure of this blog to cover the George Lee resignation. This shows the determination of WbS and Garibaldy, crypto-Blueshirts that they are, to protect Fine Gael.

    I’m going to post lengthily and angrily about this cover up on every thread from here on.

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  • By: Paul Wilson Mon, 08 Feb 2010 16:32:33

    George has decommissioned himself.

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  • By: Nip Mon, 08 Feb 2010 16:36:30

    I think you’ll find out that the OIRA also decomissioned today

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  • By: Paul Wilson Mon, 08 Feb 2010 16:48:30

    Nip

    Yes i have just seen the news report.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 08 Feb 2010 16:55:18

    As I understood it the OIRA didn’t decommission today. It was the Official Republican Movement, a split from the WP in the 1990s. But… RTÉ says otherwise. And as it happens… look no further than the right hand side column…

    Incidentally, do you read my responses to you jake/joan? I have absolutely no axe to grind about the OIRA. Or PIRA, or indeed INLA.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 08 Feb 2010 17:19:32

    By the way, since when have I said the OIRA didn’t in one form or another exist or have I cast doubt on that existence?

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  • By: Jim Monaghan Mon, 08 Feb 2010 17:21:29

    Could I draw attention to the disgraceful treatment of a Kitson who was imprisoned in Robbin island with Mandela. His kids got involved with a dissident anti-apartheid group( RCG inspired) and the Union DATA (controlled by CP officials, it is now MSF) asked Kitson to denounce his kids or they would withdraw support.He refused and they did. Interesting that when Apartheid fell it turned out that the ANC people involved in London were on the payroll.
    I was told that Smullen had an extra axe to grind with Costello. Costello had an appointment with an arms dealer he could not make, Smullen took it on and was arrested.
    On agents, I have to say there are enough fools around who do it for free. In spite of the anme calling there are many stupid people around.
    There were more CP types in the Officials, Smullen and O’Hagen were in the CPGB and I would guess heavily influenced by Greaves. Like the few Trotskyist I would guess it was probably influenced rather than an organised tendency.
    For me the decisive Stalinist inspired thing was the Moscow conference where Garland was swung away from the axis with Costello.It would be interesting to get Garlands account if he was capable of telling the truth.
    A general point. a lot of the left (not just Stalinists) have a crude “get even” approach. “When we get power we will deal with our enemnies” type of bullshit.Some of the wierd Trotskyist groups would say their rivals are just setups by the state to divert the workers from the true holy apostolic (I get a bit mixed up between religions) party.
    Around this time the CPI sent a document to all the CPs in the world denouncing the Sticks as revisionists. An Australian Trotskyist group got it by accident.

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  • By: Sticky Wicket Mon, 08 Feb 2010 17:31:01

    “interesting to get Garlands account if he was capable of telling the truth.”

    You are a tiresome p***k sometimes, do you know that?

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 08 Feb 2010 17:41:32

    Keep it calm everyone. Big things happening today.

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  • By: Ramzi Nohra Mon, 08 Feb 2010 18:02:14

    Hi WbS, most news outlets are saying OIRA rather than ORM. They could be unthinkingly reporting each other of course, although my understanding is that OIRA actually issued a statement, which should have made things clearer.

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  • By: Ramzi Nohra Mon, 08 Feb 2010 18:03:32

    ah actually just read your other thread, sorry….

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  • By: Seán Ó Tuama Mon, 08 Feb 2010 21:24:27

    And you are a tiresome pain always!

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  • By: Eoin Harass Tue, 09 Feb 2010 17:38:37

    Dreadful article on the IRSP. You don’t have to agree with Costello, or to accept their position to see how it emerged. Smullen’s argument is very dependent on spookology and of course butter wouldn’t melt in the Official’s mouths. He wrote something similar in the Irish Times about BICO where a now prominent trade unionist was described as a CIA agent. Don’t know how he achieved his prominence in the Officials because so much of his stuff was 3rd rate dogma.
    I often wonder how much of the Workers Party’s success was down to the fact that many members and local organisers did not pay attention to this stuff at all.

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