Socialist Republic, Vol. 2, No. 1
Date:1979
Organisation:People's Democracy
Publication:Socialist Republic
Issue:Volume 2, Number 1
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

5th November 2012

Produced by People’s Democracy, Socialist Republic was a well presented A4 magazine, published during the 1970s and 1980s. This issue of Socialist Republic deals with a broad range of topics. The cover story deals with the Iranian Revolution, with the subheading ‘Mass Action shows the way. Victory to the Revolution!’. There is a Burntollet March Special Supplement included with this edition.

Inside there are pieces on the entry of the Republic of Ireland to the European Monetary System, the oil terminal at Whiddy Island - and in particular the explosion of the Betelgeuse oil tanker there earlier that year. There are also interesting pieces on the Socialist Labour Party Conference - The Republican Socialist Tendency incorporated Peoples’ Democracy members in the SLP and this grouping left the SLP later that year.

Indeed it is clear from the articles on the SLP that there was a considerable degree of dissatisfaction with that formation… ‘it became clear at the conference that there is a small right-wing minority which has no interest in supporting the fright for a united Ireland, never mind struggling against atrocities like H Block which doesn’t consider itself bound by conference decisions and feels free to oppose them publicly’. It also argued that the ‘most prominent member of this clique, Noel Browne TD, demonstrated his contempt for the party he is supposed to represent in the Dáil by writing a letter to the Irish Times on January 9th in which he made the scandalous allegation that the campaign for the restoration of Political Status [in H Block] is ‘elitist’. This flew in the face of SLP policy…’

In another piece it is argued that:

Under cover of high sounding criticism of the ‘narrow nationalist aims and methods of the Provisional I.R.A.’ the SLP NEC turned its back on the growing anti-repression struggle both in the 26 counties as well as in the North.

There is an article on ‘The Industrial Struggle of Women, another on the experience of August 1969 which has some interesting thoughts on the use of force and political action and the relationship between the two and there is also a long piece on the trill of IRSP members Osgur Breathnach, Brian McNally and Nicky Kelly.

As an aside, it is interesting to consider what impact the experience of PD members in the SLP had on the later journey some of them made to Sinn Féin - PD in this document makes it clear that they are ‘a Marxist organisation with firm roots in the anti-imperialist movement’. They note:

A lot of our policies have been learned the hard way through mistakes and splits but we are confident in our basic ideas and this confidence was shown by the fusion in October of two groups, the Movement for A Socialist Republic and the Peoples Democracy into one organisation under the banner of People’s Democracy. The fusion conference affirmed our belief that the greatest single barrier to a Socialist Republic is the presence of British Imperialism and rejected that the loyalist minority have any right to continue partition. The conference thought that the oppression of the Irish working class and in particular women can be ended by that working class using their economic and political strength. The building of a united 32-county mass movement is the central task of the Irish revolution and a strong revolutionary Marxist party will have a major role to play in it.

In the Burntollet supplement it is notable that Sinn Féin is criticised for boycotting a tenth anniversary commemorative march (and the piece notes that “SF have never been happy working with other organisations. Time and again they have withdrawn from united committees and united fronts, the most recent examples being the PHRC in 1974 and the Irish Front in Derry last year”)”.

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