In tribute to Billy McMillen
Date:1975
Publication:Intercontinental Press
Issue:9th June 1975
Author:Gerry Foley
Collection:1975: Official Sinn Féin/IRSP Split and Republican Feuds
View: View Document
Discuss:Comments on this document
Subjects: Billy McMillen

Please note: The Irish Left Archive is provided as a non-commercial historical resource, open to all, and has reproduced this document as an accessible digital reference. Copyright remains with its original authors. If used on other sites, we would appreciate a link back and reference to the Irish Left Archive, in addition to the original creators. For re-publication, commercial, or other uses, please contact the original owners. If documents provided to the Irish Left Archive have been created for or added to other online archives, please inform us so sources can be credited.

Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

4th June 2012

Please note: This document was added to the Irish Left Archive with a number of associated documents by Gerry Foley.

For an overview of these documents see the 1975: Official Sinn Féin/IRSP Split and Republican Feuds.

More from Intercontinental Press

Intercontinental Press in the archive


Comments

No Comments yet.

Add a Comment

Formatting Help

Comments can be formatted in Markdown format . Use the toolbar to apply the correct syntax to your comment. The basic formats are:

**Bold text**
Bold text

_Italic text_
Italic text

[A link](http://www.example.com)
A link

You can join this discussion on The Cedar Lounge Revolution

  • By: Tawdy Mon, 04 Jun 2012 11:46:38

    Having read as much as I could of theses articles…………….is it me or is there a sense of bias…………….a sort of onesidedness in all these articles………….granted they put a perspective………….but only a one sided perspective.

    I was in Limerick when Costelloe…………….who was still involved with the officials…………he was recruiting people…………..not to the the official IRA…….of which he was operations officer at that time……..nor to the IRSP………but to a new armed grouping………part of that group who did join up were caught trying to rob the mail off a train in Mallow.

    Costelloe himself was court marshalled by the Army Council under the name of Clancy and dismissed with ignomy…………there is no mention of how the IRSP was financed at its inception……….the above information should show how the IRSP was being financed………anyone who got involved with the INLA were involved in collecting funds in this manner…………they were never accounted for………money would just disappear……..

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Ed Mon, 04 Jun 2012 15:28:12

    Great stuff, WBS, brilliant to have all this material – going to be writing something about the Official-IRSP split myself soon, this stuff is like gold dust

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Jim Monaghan Mon, 04 Jun 2012 16:38:37

    In general terms Foley regarded the split and the subsequent feud as a disaster. Though I felt that the Officials were well down the road to where they became a Stalinist sect.Our correspondent above knows a lot about courtmartials.Was anyone disciplined for the murder of Costello, nevermind the murder of Ferguson in the Whiterock which started the feud.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Tawdy Mon, 04 Jun 2012 17:26:40

    My information is related to North Munster area only for that time a copy of the courtmartial of clancy/costelloe was circulated in this area after his dismissal. Whatever gave you the idea that anybody would have been disciplined not to mind courtmartialed for any murder carried out on any irsp/inla people?

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Ed Tue, 05 Jun 2012 11:33:23

    Now I’ve had a chance to read over these – notable that Foley gives credence to the idea that the killing of McMillen and the attempted killing of Garland were both the work of British agents provocateurs, he doesn’t even consider the possibility that IRSP supporters might have been involved. If Holland and McDonald have it right in ‘Deadly Divisions’, it was Belfast IRSP people who tried to kill Garland without consulting Costello, and it was Gerard Steenson who killed McMillen, more or less on his own initiative. There’s a kind of black humour to the interview with Costello, the way he ties himself in knots denying that the IRSP has a military wing while referring to these shadowy groups who have offered to protect them (mind you, I’ve seen British government files from a year or two later, still asking ‘do we know what the relationship between the IRSP and the PLA is?’).

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: WorldbyStorm Tue, 05 Jun 2012 15:41:30

    Ed, thanks a million, the kind word is really appreciated. It’s great craic to get the archive material up, but it’s even better to hear people find it useful (and particularly I think as well for those who donate material to it).

    I didn’t want to comment on that in the body of the text, but Foley was – I think – being characteristically fair to all (though a bit harsh on McMillen who I think was a lot more astute and politically developed than he gives him credit for) even if the actuality wasn’t necessarily as he saw it. One thing that strikes me about him as being open and generous as he was was typified by his kind words about Garland years after the attitude of some was quite the opposite to him.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Ed Tue, 05 Jun 2012 17:14:00

    I’d say there was probably an element of Foley trying to take the heat out of the feuding by pointing in the direction of British agents. Looking at it objectively, the main player to benefit from the two republican feuds in 1975 was the British government, so it was probably natural to suspect their hand in it somewhere, although there’s no evidence of that having been the case.

    Probably at this point in the IRSP’s history it wasn’t so clear that Costello wanted it to have a strong militarist element – the path that it ended up following was exactly what Foley had been criticising in ‘The Test of Ireland’:

    http://www.likembe.net/Documents/The%20Test%20of%20Ireland.pdf

    Interesting that you can see in these docs Foley clearly appealing to the likes of Garland and Malachy McGurran.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: WorldbyStorm Tue, 05 Jun 2012 17:54:16

    That seems very true. It’s hard to credit that he didn’t have at least an inkling of the true state of affairs.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Garibaldy Tue, 05 Jun 2012 19:23:47

    It seems unlikely to me that he thought that the people running about Belfast looking for each other were taking the time to read his articles, and he must have known they had a very strong idea of who exactly was responsible for what. It seems to me that the target audience here was foreign interested parties, and not the people involved in what was going on, either in Belfast or Dublin.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: WorldbyStorm Tue, 05 Jun 2012 19:44:42

    Well I think it’s important to note that he was on the ground and talking to people, so the two aren’t mutually exclusive, in the sense that articles in an int’l magazine weren’t the only focus of his activity.

    Whether though those involved paid a blind bit of notice is a different issue.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Ed Tue, 05 Jun 2012 21:11:57

    “It seems unlikely to me that he thought that the people running about Belfast looking for each other were taking the time to read his articles.”

    Well, there’s at least one sentence in there that’s obviously aimed at people he was friendly with in the Official leadership (Garland and McGurran, presumably); maybe not the people who were taking shots at each other in Belfast, but I’d say he was hoping people near the top of both organisations might pay some heed to what he was saying. No idea if they actually did of course …

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: John Meehan Tue, 05 Jun 2012 22:02:56

    Ed, I think you have it right here : “I’d say there was probably an element of Foley trying to take the heat out of the feuding by pointing in the direction of British agents. Looking at it objectively, the main player to benefit from the two republican feuds in 1975 was the British government, so it was probably natural to suspect their hand in it somewhere, although there’s no evidence of that having been the case.” It is a matter for historians now – as you say, Henry McDonald has named names – and there is no special reason to believe he has got his facts wrong.

    In hindsight, Bernadette McAliskey was very wise to pull out of the IRSP after realising a secret army was being created which would, unavoidably, prevent internal democracy developing within the organisation. She clearly explains this political position in the recent Leila Doolan Documentary “Notes on a Political Journey” – this is a very relevant point for the future development of the Irish Left.

    http://www.galwayfilmfleadh.com/programme.php?fest=4&ct=new-irish-cinema&cid=2&t=bernadette-notes-on-a-political-journey&id=48

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Jim Monaghan Wed, 06 Jun 2012 15:15:32

    He visited Ireland around that time and had his last meeting with Garland.Once the shooting started it was hard to stop until it ran out of steam.
    While I don’t think agents started or even egged nit on, I would think that the Officials were not immune from infiltration.I suppose in a 100 or so years people will be surprised when files are released.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: GeeGee Wed, 06 Jun 2012 16:12:16

    Who are you working for Jim?

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Helena Sheehan Wed, 06 Jun 2012 16:29:14

    I was in the Officials at this time, involved in these events and close to the people discussed in these articles. I wouldn’t have the same position as Gerry Foley then or now, but I do recognise the sincerity of his engagement at this time. I agree with WbS about Billy McMillen, whom I knew really well. He was lot more astute and politically developed. He read seriously and was keen to discuss theoretical matters. .

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: WorldbyStorm Wed, 06 Jun 2012 22:05:07

    Well out of order. I really dislike passive aggressive insinuations on internet sites, particularly those that hide behind anonymity.

    Jim isn’t working for anyone.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: WorldbyStorm Wed, 06 Jun 2012 22:06:55

    This is a sign of my terrible lack of ability to take in facts on printed pages, but it was only today when I was rereading part of TLR that I realise you too had been a member of OSF. It’s amazing. Across its years both as OSF, SFWP and WP it has had an huge number pass through it.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: The Weekly Archive Worker: Emancipació « Entdinglichung Thu, 07 Jun 2012 08:39:42

    […] Gerry Foley: Selection of writings on the Official Sinn Féin/Irish Republican Socialist Party split in 1975 – … […]

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: Helena Sheehan Thu, 07 Jun 2012 09:41:38

    Yes, there were many and there are lots of us still out there. I have been writing about those times recently and tracking down people I haven’t seen in a while. They have gone in such different directions.

    Reply on the CLR

  • By: IRSP Continue With Housing Campaign In Beechmount, West Belfast « Fiannaiochta Thu, 14 Jun 2012 14:39:24

    […] Left Archive: Selection of writings on the Official Sinn Féin/Irish Republican Socialist Party spli… (cedarlounge.wordpress.com) […]

    Reply on the CLR