Workers' Weekly, Vol. 2, No. 30
Date:4th January 1975
Organisation: The Workers' Association
Publication: Workers' Weekly
Issue:Volume 2, Number 30
Type:Publication Issue
View: View Document
Discuss:Comments on this document

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

30th March 2009

Here is Workers Weekly, a publication of the Workers Association, also of the British and Irish Communist Organisation. This dates from January 1975. As with the previous example in the Archive it is a four page typewritten production. Pedants will note that there is no consistency with the previous masthead.

This edition is exercised about the then recent Provisional IRA ceasefire and argued that:

“The Provisional IRA is now closer to defeat than at any time since they began the war against the people of Northern Ireland.”

The document is explicit in its political analysis:

Having abandoned violence at least temporarily - the Provos will be forced to attempt to pursued their objectives by political means. But the basic objective of the Provos - Irish unity - is incapable of being pursued by political mans. The realisation of Irish unity would not advance the objective material interests of any significant section of Ulster society. The only case for Irish unity that can be made is a case based on myths and legends and myths and legends will not attract many voters…[the Provisional IRA] possess neither the ability nor the guts to face reality and to participate in realistic politics in Northern Ireland. They have nothing to contribute to the working out of a new constitution for the Government of Northern Ireland as a province of the United Kingdom.

And then in a rather dubious piece of political forecasting it continues:

The working out of such a constitution will be the central issue in Ulster politics in the immediate period ahead and any political group which has nothing to contribute to this debate will quickly become irrelevant. Clearly the Provo’s have no future in Ulster politics.

Elsewhere it critiques, or rather criticises Peoples Democracy. There’s a unique take on internment and then a further critique of the SDLP and a poor piece of political prophecy which argues that:

…for Paddy Devlin [of the SDLP] to talk about two ‘traditions’ being given equal expression in the Northern Ireland state is a logical and political absurdity. They stand in totally mutually contradiction and they are not resolved by some sort of artificial creation which purports to allow the expression of both. In such a situation either one or the other will be expressed, not both.

And finally, turn to Page 4 for an attack on the ITGWU.

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  • By: Garibaldy Tue, 31 Mar 2009 20:02:37

    Well said.

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  • By: Starkadder Tue, 31 Mar 2009 20:21:20

    The whole“down with Bowen” thing is very weird-imagine éirígí
    sending letters and publishing books attacking Somerville and
    Ross, for instance.

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  • By: Garibaldy Tue, 31 Mar 2009 20:35:16

    It’s not something I’ve paid a great deal of attention to. But having said that, if she was sending reports back to the UK about events in the south, then it does open questions about national identity etc that complicate some of the more simplistic attempts to reclaim the Irish identity of every writer ever born in Ireland. Whether they considered it a stable or not.

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  • By: Starkadder Tue, 31 Mar 2009 21:17:51

    That’s a fair point. But having read Clair Wills’ “That Neutral Island” I
    don’t think Bowen did anything to undermine Irish Neutrality, even
    if she did privately resent it.

    I’ve never actually read any of Bowen’s novels, only some of the short stories.

    What about Clifford’s A.J.P. Taylor-ish views on WWII, which seem to be strongly linked to his attacks on Bowen? I’ve found a summary of them here:

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  • By: Garibaldy Tue, 31 Mar 2009 22:14:36

    One can still be report to a foreign government and not undermine neutrality, no? I would interpret undermining it as meaning removing its credibility but you probably mean endangering it? Either way, I still think it’s possible to act on behalf of a foreign government and still not undermine it. It involves acting as an informant rather than a spy I would say. In the way that concerned loyalists would historically right to the government with their concerns about locals who they suspected were United Irishmen/Fenians/IRA men etc. I’d put what she was doing in that category. A spy involves employment in my eyes when it is reporting to government, as opposed to say spying for one political group on another.

    I’ll have to get back to you on the Clifford thing. Don’t have the time now.

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  • By: Starkadder Wed, 01 Apr 2009 08:36:39

    Jack Lane in the 1970s:

    “”[Gerry] Fitt is a Catholic Nationalist who has been masquerading as a
    socialist for a good many years now…He assured them [NI Catholics]
    that if they have nothing to fear because if they procreate
    fast enough they will soon be the majority…
    This has always been one of the cruder expressions of the Catholic
    nationalist attempts to dominate the Protestant Nation. The Protestant
    community has successfully resisted all the attempts by Catholic Nationalists
    to dominate it for the last 100 years and it has proved itself to be a nation
    in its own right. As such the Catholic Nationalists have no right to dominate
    it and regard it as a minority in its nation. It is this claim by the Catholic
    Nationalists which is the cause of the sectarianism in Northern Ireland.

    ..Fitt’s views are in keeping with the most degenerate form of national

    It’s all the evil Papists’ fault, mister Orangeman.

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  • By: Joe Wed, 01 Apr 2009 08:43:05

    “He’s wrong-most of the Ulster Protestants don’t see themselves as a separate nation, and they don’t fit the Marxist criteria for defining a nation.”

    Expand on that for me Starkadder please. What are these Marxist criteria for defining a nation? Or where in Marx’s writings might one find them?

    I’d agree that most of the Ulster Protestants don’t see themselves as a separate nation. They see themselves as part of a separate nation – the United Kingdom.

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  • By: Starkadder Wed, 01 Apr 2009 16:21:47

    The Jack Lane quote comes from Communist Comment magazine,
    January 16th 1971.

    Marx & Engels, IIRC, supported nationalism that were against
    the Imperial powers of the time,like Irish and Polish nationalism.

    But the criteria the B&ICO used to define a nation were the ones
    found in Joseph Stalin’s “Marxism and the National Question”-also
    used by non-Stalinist Leninists and Trotskyists.

    The Kulak Butcher defined a nation as consisting of:

    ‘A nation is an historically evolved, stable community of language, territory, economic life, and psychological make-up manifested in a community of culture.’.

    The problems with using this statement to support
    the “separate nation” argument is that the Ulster Protestants
    territory only covers four counties, their economy was heavily
    tied to Britain instead of the international market,nor were the
    Ulster Protestants clear who they were (they wanted to keep
    ALL Ireland in the Union-Partition was a last resort). Their
    “psychological make-up” that defined the UPs’ identity against
    the the Irish Nationalists kept changing.

    On this note, the IPR crowd don’t seem to have given much thought
    to how a United Ireland might look in practice-Athol Books has
    yet to produce its equivalent of “Éire Nua “.

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  • By: Starkadder Wed, 01 Apr 2009 16:40:44

    I bet the next Irish Political Review will put the boot into poor
    Hugh Leonard, because Leonard hated Haughey and the Provos.

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  • By: Starkadder Thu, 02 Apr 2009 22:21:14

    There was this article from the Corkman about the AHS’
    edition of the poems of Eoghan Ruadh O’Suilleabhain I found
    interesting. I think one of the guys in the picture might be
    Brendan Clifford-anybody know?

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  • By: Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen Linken - eine Auswahl « Entdinglichung Fri, 03 Apr 2009 09:10:34

    […] British and Irish Communist Organization (BICO)/Workers Association: Workers’ Weekly, Januar 1975 […]

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  • By: Starkadder Wed, 08 Apr 2009 19:17:12

    I checked the back issues of the Corkman, and no, that picture’s
    not connected with the AHS.

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  • By: Starkadder Sat, 11 Apr 2009 21:57:46

    I forget to mention-there was a fairly good review of the AHS’
    book on Coolacrease in the current issue of “History Ireland” by
    Joost Augusteijn. He basically agreed that the documentary by
    RTE was factually inaccurate, but claimed the book had a simplistic
    republican view of history and promoted conspiracy theories about

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  • By: Starkadder Sat, 11 Apr 2009 22:49:22

    I’ve found another review of the Coolacrease book from
    the Dublin Review of Books:

    I liked this bit:

    He (Clifford) goes on to suggest that this (BC’s NI activites) was “with a view to negotiating a compromise settlement”. He may be indulging in a little revisionism here himself. Rather than being a harbinger of the Good Friday agreement, the B&ICO campaign at the time was for recognition of two nations on the island, the defeat of the IRA, and for the territorial claim on the North in the Irish Constitution to be deleted. .

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  • By: Starkadder Mon, 20 Apr 2009 19:00:54

    As a contemporary saw them;the entry on the ICO from David Widgery’s “The Left in Britain” (1976) :

    Irish Communist Organization: A proletarian Irish Maoist grouping founded by six people in November 1965 centered on Brendan Clifford, an associate of McCreery
    (=> Committee to Defeat Revisionism, For Communist Unity).
    Published “Irish Communist” and the North London based “The Communist”, with branches in London, (where it is known as the Communist Workers’ Organization), Bangor, Dublin, Belfast and Cork. Strict Stalinists.
    In 1969 adopted a Marxist variant of
    Bonar Law’s 1912 theory of Ireland as “two nations”, and campaign for the Ulster Protestants’ right of self-determination. Notorious for theoretical nitpicking and polemical virtuosity. Compulsive publishers with special emphasis on reprints from Irish History and exposing the crimes of Leon Trotsky. Expelled a founder member who ceased to support Two Nations theory in 1971, who now publishes the
    “theoretical quarterly” “Communist Worker. => Communist Organization in the British Isles.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 20 Apr 2009 19:40:29

    Six people. Theoretical nit-picking. Has anything changed? Funny thing is I can’t help but feel they’ve sort of shifted towards the CPI-MLs old ground, not entirely of course, but somewhat while the old CPI-ML people have moderated their views very slightly. Odd that. As time goes on I become more and more – well, sympathetic is the wrong word, perhaps very slightly affectionate to the CPI-ML… in a sort of a way. At least you knew exactly where you stood with them.

    Which reminds me Starkadder, on your perigrinations have you come across the September 1969 United Irishman? I have a copy but it’s missing the eight inside pages including the editorial. Which isn’t great for putting up in the Archive in September…

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  • By: Starkadder Mon, 20 Apr 2009 20:42:53

    To my shame, although I’ve gone through some WA stuff, I’ve
    never looked at the United Irishman stuff.

    There is a really nasty attack on History Ireland magazine
    and Joost Augustijn in the
    current issue of the IPR-HI is described as “an academic publication
    whose bias is revisionist” and Clifford doles out his usual slop about
    the Evil Dublin Four Revisionist Conspiracy. He actually stops talking
    about the review for a whole page and whinges about the government
    not abolishing Articles 2 & 3 for a whole page. (!) Clifford doesn’t mention that Augustijn’s article notes the appointment of the
    anti-revisionist Diarmaid Ferriter to UCD.

    Of course for Clifford, anyone who doesn’t kiss his Sliabh
    Luachra arse is a revisionist 😉 .

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  • By: Garibaldy Mon, 20 Apr 2009 21:14:30

    Sounds like the worst excesses of the editor of HI being turned against him.

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  • By: Vabian Wed, 06 May 2009 20:52:19

    Angela Clifford is launching a book on the Arms Trial
    in the Teachers’ Club this Friday, and Jack Lane,Brendan Clifford and
    Dessie Fennell are also releasing new books
    About Bowen and Mansergh and Western Civilization
    the next day.

    Would anyone be interested in coming? (Even if
    Only to ask some Paxman-like “difficult questions” 😉 ).

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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 07:52:12

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

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