DEVELOPMENTS ON THE LEFT IN DUBLIN by PETER GRAHAM JUNE 1968.
In 1966 we in Ireland celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rebellion
(1916). The writings of James Connolly, which prior to then had been read
little, and then only by the older hands’, began to be read more widely.
The younger generation found through his writings that he was not quite as the Christian Brothers in school taught – “only the 7th leader’ of 19l6.” They found
in his writings Connolly the revolutionary, the worker, the union organiser and
Marxist. Via Connolly’s writings many young readers were able to side-step the
watery politics of the Stalinists and adopt firm, consistent socialist politics.
The new firmness and consistency is reflected best in the slogans raised on the
increasingly numerous and sizeable demonstrations and the growth in Dublin of
militant Marxist groups. In fact it is in the traditionally ‘soggy’ demos that
the militants are showing best.
The Irish Voice on Vietnam (IVV) is dominated by Stalinists and republicans and
is best understood by its slogan “Peace in Vietnam”.On all the early demonstrations
the most radical slogan would be “Hey Hey LBJ… etc. [How many kids did
you kill today] On the latest, however, slogans such as “Victory to the
NLF”, “Escalate the Peoples War” and others of solidarity with the NLF are
chanted. These slogans were most in evidence on the last demo (April) when it
rained heavily before, throughout and after the demonstration. The crowd numbered
about 450 (a far cry from the days when only 200 turned up in the best of
weather) and not a Hey Hey LBJ-type slogan was to be heard.
When on reaching the Embassy some militants from the Connolly Youth Movement
(Irish YCL) tried to block the road, their leader was forcibly stopped by a
policeman – and the secretary of the Irish Workers Party (Southern Irish
CP). The secretary no doubt did not want the rumour confirmed that the marchers
were not content just to chant solidary slogans but were also prepared to
show their solidarity physically if given the leadership.
Just as the anti-war demos are getting out of the hands of the organisers, so
also are the demos against the chronic Dublin housing shortage. This shift of
initiative to the rank and file is not alone feared by the cops, but also by
the “left” bureaucrats. The only way the bureaucrats can regain control is to
have fewer demos, badly advertised, while the police have the sole deterrent
of violence in their hands.
The cops resorted to attacking the demonstrators during the two housing demos
in May. The earlier one was the traditional picket outside City Hall while the
corporation had its monthly meeting inside. The usual contingent of cops and
“S-men” (Special Branch) were there, and so also was the riot squad headed by
“Lugs” Brannigan the punch-happy cop. In the course of the picket these psychopaths unleashed their pent up frustrations on the demonstrators.
Three demonstrators were taken to hospital. The following Saturday a public meeting
of protest was organised. The meeting marched to the Mansion House and then
marched back to the city centre. By this time the numbers had dwindled greatly. On
reaching town 3 times as many cops as were together before that evening await-
ed them. When the demo did not break up quickly enough, the cops attacked and
accelerated the process of dispersal.
Noticeably prominent in these demos were the students, who themselves (through
the “Internationalists”, a Maoist fringe group) organised a picket of protest
against Belgian Imperialism when the King and Queen of the Belgians were in
Trinity College. The police attacked the picketers of about 10 or so and rapidly
neutralised them. During the course of the “beatings some students unconnected
with the picket were assaulted by the “defenders of peace and order”. The
HERALD, a paper in the “INDEPENDENT” (!) Group, took care of the public relations
side and put out that the students attacked the police and that they intended
to physically attack the King and Queen.
The mass of the students then marched to the INDEPENDENT offices to protest
against misrepresentation in the press. The misrepresentation was echoed in the
Dail by the Fine Gael leadership when they said that Trinity was a breeding
ground for communists and that the arrival in Ireland of Ralph Schoenman (promptly arrested and deported) was part of an international plan to create student
unrest in Ireland*
The organisers of the initial student demo, the “Internationalists”, are to be
congratulated for it. But they and all the Stalinist Groups in Dublin, whether
they are ‘hard line* or ‘revisionist’, are to be condemned for not swelling the
ranks of the Young Socialists (an independent youth group) in their picket of
solidarity with the French workers outside the French Embassy. This demo was
organised by the YS and students. The Connolly Youth Movement said it was
ultra-left and insisted there was not a revolutionary situation in France. (Which
if true is due entirely to the reformist policy of their French counterparts!)
Granted they had a meeting at the time, “but since they meet only a 5 minute bus
ride away from the French embassy they could have adjourned and given at least
The Irish Communist Organisation (another Maoist grouping. later BICO) promised support but true to sectarian (with regard to Trotskyists) form did not turn up.
It was heartening however to see the YS taking the initiative on this question,
and they deserve full support from all real militants.
The day will come when consistent Marxist politics will win
through and demos like the French one will be as well attended as the present
anti-war ones, if not better.
Peter Graham Workers Fight, June 1968.
Thank’s to Workers Liberty’ for the article. link here–http://www.workersliberty.org/story/2014/06/06/peter-graham-reports-irish-left-1968