Liam Daltun: 50 years after the Easter Rising, a Socialist Republican’s “Reflections on the Easter jamboree”. Introduction by Sean Matgamna a comrade of Liam Daltun.
This article appeared in the London monthly of the Irish Workers’ Group, “Irish Militant”, in May 1966. The author, Liam Daltun had been a member of the IRA who had taken part in the 1956 split in that organisation, siding with the faction led by Joe Cristle, which was impatient for “action” against the 6 County sub state. He took part in the “action” of November 1956, when they set fire to custom posts along the internal Irish border, which preceeded the “official” IRA Campaign that would start in December 1956. Eventually disillusioned with both of the IRA factions, he migrated to London. There he moved to the left, as did a number of other “Cristleites”. Still trying to get his political bearings he joined the Communist Party and was active for a while in its Irish “front” orgsnisation, the Connolly Association, which masqueraded as an Irish nationalist organisation. He and some others were expelled from that organisation in 1958. He became a Trotskyist around this time and remained a Trotskyist for the rest of his life. He was intensely hostile to the Stalinist faction that took control of the IRA in the mid 1960s.
This article, as well as being a socialist commentary on mid-60s Ireland, is also a valuable portrayal of the mindset of a representative Socialist Republican of the mid-20th Century, on the eve of the eruptions in the 6 Counties. His statement that the 26 Counties had rejoined the United Kingdom refers to the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement of 1965, which many leftists saw in the same over-lurid light that Liam saw it in. Liam Daltun* committed suicide in London on the evening of Derry’s Bloody Sunday, the day on which British Paratroopers killed 14 unarmed demonstrators in Derry, many of them men in their teens (13 died immediately, one later of his wounds)
On May 12th, 1916, the last two signatories oi the historic Proclamation were executed by firing squad. Sean MacDiarmada met his fate standing upright The wounded Connolly, too ill to stand or even sit upright, was shot strapped in a chair.
The organ of the Irish Catholic bourgeoisie, “The Irish Independent.” had loudly and insistently demanded
the blood of Connolly:
“Let of the worst of the ringleaders be singled out and
dealt with as they deserve.”
William Martin Murphy, the owner of this paper was also the
leading figure in the Dublin employers’ association whichhad locked out
and attempted to starve into submission the workers of Dublin in I913.
He and his voracious class, whose Sacred Profits demanded
the degradation and brutalisation of. That Labour which
was the source of all their wealth, now sought vengeance on
the man who along with Larkin had raised the poorest of
Dublin’s poor from their knees and transformed them
into dignified and class-conscious worers
State Within the State
Connolly had done more than that. He had done something
that inspired a justified terror in the hearts of the Irish
capitalist vultures and earned him their undying hatred.
He inspired spearheaded the setting up, drilling and
arming of a Workers*’Army. This force was both objectively
and subjectively a State within the State. It was the
embryo within the imperialist U.K. State and within
colonial Ireland of a new kind of state—of an Irish Workers’ Republic.
Dublin’s slouch hatted Red Guards came into existence in response to the savagery of the police in the 1913 lockout. The bravado and almighty desire to “mix it” with unarmed and peacefully picketing workers was knocked clean out of the thugs of the capitalist class when they turned up to find one worker carrying a placard – and a half dozen others carrying (loaded) mausers with fixed bayonets. The capitalist press had hailed
the “bravery” of the police when they cracked the skulls of
unarmed workers and of women and children. Their ” brave ” police were not of a kidney however to fight on anything like equal terms—and the Citizens Army was providing those
Writing about the great events in Ireland Lenin described the Citizens Army as ‘the first Red Army in the World’ and remarked that the Irish workers had set an example for workers everywhere.Within little more than a year of the 1916 Rising a similar
“body of armed workers” in Russia shook the world.
Russian workers carrying rifles and wearing scarlet
armbands appeared on the streets of Petersburg and Moscow.
Under the dynamic leadership of Lenin and Trotsky the insurrectionary seizure of power was organised, leading to
the setting up of the first Workers’ State. Irish workers, should remember that this State set up by a Russian Citizen
Army was the only one in the world ever to recognise the
Irish Republic established by the overwhelming vote
of the Irish people in 1918.
Recently the Irish capitalist Establishment commemorated
the Easter Rising. Well they might. They’ve much to be
grateful for. Over the past 40 years they’ve lined their
cavernous pockets at the expense of the Irish workers and
small fanners. It was by placing themselves at the helm of
the great movement which grew out of the sacrifice of the
dead revolutionaries of Easter Week that they got the oppor-
tunity to do this. The death of Connolly left the only class
which would have been capable of leading the country to a complete break with British imperialism leaderless.
The bourgeois and petty-bourgeois leaders used the
movement in the service of their own class interests. Once
their own class aims had been achieved they called a halt
to the march of the nation. When sections of the nation
tried to press on, the capitalists, represented in turn by
Cosgrave and de Valera, turned their military and police
forces on them
Everything that Connolly had put the workers of Ireland
on guard against came to pass. A capitalist compromise
took place. The 26-Co. neo-colony was set up and trapped
out in tricolours, signs in Irish and daubs of (imported)
green paint. Connolly had said that unless the social system
were changed nothing at all would change. In fact,
the City of London still ruled. It continues to rule.
Connolly understood History. He had studied and learned the political lessons of past revolutionary upheavals, of past
struggles between fundamentally opposed interests in society
for control of the state. He knew that the capitalist and middle class leaders such as Griffiths, deValera, Collins, etc, would
seek a compromise “short of our goal”
The safeguarding of their class interests demanded this.
In this regard workers can learn lessons from than.
Only the wording class stood to gain economically and
in every other respect from a complete break with the
Empire and the [financial] City of London. Therefore only
that class could lead the nation to independence, giving a determined lead to the small capitalists, the small farmers,
the shopkeepers, the middle-class intellectuals, etc.
Leadership by the latter element could only be indecisive
and end in compromise and a return to the old status quo.
This in fact is the situation 50 years after Connolly’s death.
The Free State capitalists have gone
back into the U.K.
The same capitalist elements who either condemned the
Rising at the time, or afterwards murdered those
who remained loyal to its aims, have now celebrated the
50th anniversary of the event with parades, speeches, High
Masses and Prayer Services.
They have nothing in common with Connolly and his aims—anymore than whoever happens to lead the millions-strong privileged officialdom in Russia next year in commemorating
the Revolution of October 1917 will have anything in
common with Lenin and Trotsky and the aims of the Revolution they led. It’s been said that the only reason Cosgrave or
de Valera didn’t shoot Connolly was that the British relieved
them of the necessity. One thing is certain : Connolly
were he alive today would not have gone within a million
miles of the Establishment’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
He’d have stood well apart from the boss class and their
dog-collared and uniformed servants. He’d have poured scorn
and contempt on the semi-detached State and govern-
ment of “the rack-renting landlords and the profit-grinding capitalists.”
What has the present set-up in Ireland North or South got to do with Connolly’s programme ?
Like [the leader of the United Irishmen in the 1790s Wolfe]
Tone, Connolly sought to unite Catholic, Protestant and
Dissenter under the common name Of Irishman. He saw a growing movement of the working class, of the ” men of
no property” leading the country to that Political and Social Freedom which “are not two separate and unrelated ideas,
but are two sides of the one great principle, each being
incomplete without the other.” Connolly knew that a purely
nationalist-capitalist movement of the Sinn Fein type could
not win independence nor maintain national unity. It
could not appeal to the Protestant working class and win
them to the idea of a united Ireland.
What has the so-called educational system in the 26 Cos.
got in common with Connolly’s programme? It is managed
by narrow-minded clerics. Recently a young writer, John
MacGahern, lost his job. He’d married in a Registry office.
A book he wrote was not approved of by Rome-Rule-in-the-
schools. In this way do the capitalistsand the church further
divide the Irish people by providing grounds for the
mistrust of the Protestant workers in the North. Connolly advocated ” public control and management of the national
schools by boards elected by popular ballot.”
The Free State Army patrols the Border with the British Army.
It is sent to Cyprus to help the British there in maintaining “peace.” In the Congo it helped the big U.S, Belgian and other
mining interests to repress the Congolese National Movement
in blood, and murder its leader Patrice Lumumba. In
the U.N. the 26 Cos. vote is cast not on the side of the
struggling African, Asian and other peoples, but on the British
French and U.S. imperialist side. On Ireland’s national
demands [reunification] the Dublin delegation is of course
Are the children of the nation ” cherished equally?” [As the Declaration of the Republic in 1916 said they would be] What
of the majority of Irish children who never see the inside of a secondary school, much less a university? Of these
more than 50 per cent don’t even take the primary school examination before they leave school at 14. Obviously a
minority of “ the nation’s children” are more cherished than
One could go on—The non-existent social services, the
massive emigration. The scores of thousands of small
farmers—60,000 under the second economic programme
—who are forced off the land into British industry. The
Offences Against The State Act invoked against a basic
right such as the right to withdraw one’s labour. And now
Lemass finds de Valera’s constitution too “democratic”! It
doesn’t lead to ” efficiency,” he says. This is the Constitution which gives a special place to the Roman Catholic religion and thereby would deny religious equality to
one million Irish citizens in Ulster.
This document was written by de Valera in English. His
translators did it into Irish for him. The Irish version
is the definitive one, in case of a dispute over interpretation. Unique!
There’ll Be Another Day
In the coming straggle for Ireland’s freedom, the workers
must lead. The programme of Connolly and Larkin is
as valid as ever it was. The Protestant workers can be won
to a United Ireland if that unity is posed in Socialist terms.
The Green Tories have taken their 26-Co. State back into
the U.K. With their Tory colleagues in Belfast they’ll
go into the Common Market. This will mean the complete clearance of the small farmers off the land, increased
emigration, the turning of Ireland into a ranch-cum-holiday
resort. The Irish working class must and can alone give
the lead in achieving the only alternative open to Ireland today which also permits the achievement of the goal of
the 1916 Rising.
We must make the Workers’ Republic our slogan, the Starry Plough our banner and the Citizen Army our model.
We must counter Taoiseach Lemass’s Common Market plans
with our own plan : for a Workers’ Republic as a free
participant in a Socialist United States of Europe.
In common struggle with the British, French, German, and
other workers of Europe against our common enemy the
capitalist class, we could yet, in Connolly’s words,
“set the torch to a European conflagration that will not
burn out until the last throne and the
last capitalist bond and debenture will
be shrivelled on the funeral pyre till the
last War Lord.
No force can resist the Socialist working class of Ireland
and of Europe. Police Minister Lenehan fussing
officiously about in the Dublin parliament is as a
midget when the workers flex their political muscles.
The Citizen Army will march again.
Beidh la eile ag an bPaorach ….
[There will be another day.]
Thanks to Sean Matgamna and Workers Liberty for publishing the above article by Liam Daltun, link here-http://www.workersliberty.org/node/26579
Thank’s to Cedar Lounge Revolution for PDF – The Irish Militant.