Archive for November, 2013

Famous Revolutionary Quotations by Alex McGuigan

Posted in Che Guevara, Ho Chi Min, James Connolly, Karl Marx, Mao, Seamus Costello, Stalin, Subcomandante Marcos, Ta Power, Trotsky, VI Lenin on November 26, 2013 by The Plough & The Stars

Collated throughout this article are some of the author’s favourite revolutionary quotes, although it must be added that to include every significant relevant quotation would be a project that would far exceed the boundaries of a blog. The revolutionary quotes are very roughly sorted into sections. There are some of the best known quotes from Revolutionary Socialists such as: MarxEngelsLenin, Mao, Stalin and Trotsky. Elsewhere there are quotes from Irish Republican Revolutionaries, beginning with Wolfe Tone, Henry Joy McCracken and Robert Emmet, to more contemporary revolutionaries, such as Bobby Sands, Bernadette Devlin-McAliskey and Seamus Costello

.Lastly, there are quotes from socialist revolutionaries of the Americas, who include the universally famous Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, IWW Union organizer Joe Hill, Malcolm X, Huey P Newton and SubComandante Marcos of the EZLN. Hopefully the collation of these revolutionary quotes in a single article will be of use to those interested in the prophetic words of those who like Irish Marxist and Easter 1916 Rebellion leader, James Connolly, regularly spread “the divine gospel of discontent.”

One of the most significant revolutionary quote can  be found inscribed on the tomb of Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery, London which I have had the pleasure of visiting. The quote declares:

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways. The point however is to change it!”

Irish Republican Quotes

“Our freedom must be had at all hazards. If the men of property will not help us they must fall; we will free ourselves by the aid of that large and respectable class of the community – the men of no property.” (Theobald Wolfe Tone)

“To break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils and to assert the independence of my country- these were my objectives. To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter – these were my means” (Theobald Wolfe Tone)

“The rich will always betray the poor.” (Henry Joy McCracken)

“Let no man write my epitaph; for as no man who knows my motives dares not vindicate them, let no prejudice or ignorance asperse them… When my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written”(Robert Emmet)

“The principle I state, and mean to stand on is this, that the ownership of Ireland, moral and material, up to the sun and down to the centre is vested in the people of Ireland.” (James Fintan Lawlor)

“Educate, that you might be free. We are most anxious to get the quiet, strong minded people who are scattered throughout the country to see the force of this great truth.” (Thomas Davis)

“They have done their worst, and continued to deny me even the privileges accorded to the common herd . . . but I am sustained by the consciousness of my imputed ‘crime’ being an honourable one!” (Michael Davitt, Dartmoor prison, 1867)

connolly - Copy

“If you remove the English Army tomorrow and hoist the green flag over Dublin Castle., unless you set about the organization of the Socialist Republic your efforts will be in vain. England will still rule you. She would rule you through her capitalists, through her landlords, through her financiers, through the whole array of commercial and individualist institutions she has planted in this country and watered with the tears of our mothers and the blood of our martyrs ” (James Connolly)

“If you strike at, imprison, or kill us, out of
our prisons or graves we will still evoke a
spirit that will thwart you, and perhaps,
raise a force that will destroy you! We
defy you! Do your worst”
 (James Connolly)

“Whoop it up for liberty!………… After Ireland is free, says the patriot who won’t touch socialism, we will protect all classes, and if you won’t pay your rent you will be evicted same as now. But the evicting party, under command of the sheriff, will wear green uniforms and the Harp without the Crown, and the warrant turning you out on the roadside will be stamped with the arms of the Irish Republic. Now, isn’t that worth fighting for?” (James Connolly)

“We believe in constitutional action in normal times; we believe in revolutionary action in exceptional times” (James Connolly, 1915)

“There are in every generation those who shrink from the ultimate sacrifice, but there are in every generation those who make it with joy and laughter and these are the salt of the generations”(Patrick H Pearse)

“From death springs life and from the graves of great patriots springs a great nation” (Patrick H Pearse)

“Ireland unfree shall never be at peace” (Patrick H Pearse)


“The ending of partition was inevitable because Ireland was one nation by history and tradition , by facts of race, geography, and economy “ (Seamus Costello)

“we must make no secret of the fact that we are a revolutionary party , prepared to give leadership on the streets as well as in the elected chambers & that we are out for a revolutionary state” (Seamus Costello)

“It did not seem to me that prejudice, poverty, discrimination, repression and racism were confined to the North of Ireland. I could see them everywhere I spoke and still cannot comprehend the mentality that argues that I should have pretended not to see them, because it wasn’t my business” (Bernadette Devlin-McAliskey)

“Everyone, Republican or otherwise, has their
own particular part to play. No part is too great
or too small, no one is too old or too young to do
 (Bobby Sands)

“They have nothing in their whole imperial arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who doesn’t want to be broken” (Bobby Sands)

“Our revenge will be the laughter of our children” (Bobby Sands)


“Let the Fight go on” (Patsy O’Hara – INLA Hunger Striker)

“We must be vigilant that we don’t sink into the morass of sectarianism, mixing, pettiness etc. We must not get involved in unprincipled slagging matches etc or into positions that are sectarian, anti-revolutionary, morally damaging that give succour to the enemy & that confuse & divide the working class ” (Thomas ‘Ta’ Power – INLA Guerilla)

“Are we amateurs and not professionals? We know the lessons of history, we know the mistakes and we either act accordingly or collapse. Salvation lies in clarity and the courage to implement change” (Thomas ‘Ta’ Power – INLA Guerilla)

CHE 01

Quotes From American Revolutionaries

“Don’t mourn, Organise” (Joe Hill – IWW Union Organiser, USA)

“We have no right to believe that freedom can be won without struggle” (Che Guevara)

“I don’t care if I fall as long as someone else picks up my gun and keeps on shooting” (Che Guevara)

“The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall” (Che Guevara)

“I know you are here to kill me. Shoot, coward, you are only going to kill a man” (Che Guevara)

“If you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything” (Malcolm X)

“Capitalism is a stupid system, a backward system” (Stokely Carmichael)

“I also know that while I am black I am a human being, and therefore I have the right to go into any public place. White people didn’t know that.Every time I tried to go into a place they stopped me” (Stokely Carmichael)

“I knew that I could vote and that that wasn’t a privilege; it was my right. Every time I tried I was shot, killed or jailed, beaten or economically deprived” (Stokely Carmichael)

“I maintain that every civil rights bill in this country was passed for white people, not for black people” (Stokely Carmichael)

Huey Newton

“Any unarmed people are slaves, or are subject to slavery at any given moment” (Huey Newton)

“Black Power is giving power to people who have not had power to determine their destiny” (Huey Newton)

“I do not expect the white media to create positive black male images”(Huey Newton)

“I expected to die. At no time before the trial did I expect to escape with my life. Yet being executed in the gas chamber did not necessarily mean defeat. It could be one more step to bring the community to a higher level of consciousness” (Huey Newton)

“I have the people behind me and the people are my strength” (Huey Newton)

“I think what motivates people is not great hate, but great love for other people” (Huey Newton)


Some of us imagined that the Sandinista Front would arrive in columns, or something like that. It wasn’t until later we realized that we were the Sandinista Front; they would show us what to do, but it was us, alongside them; we were the ones who had to fight.” (‘Felix’ Anonymous combatant)

SubComandante Marcos EZLN

“What we’re going to do is shake this country up from below, pick it up and turn it on its head” (SubComandante Marcos – Zapatista organizer)

“We learned a long time ago that we should never subject ourselves to the schedules of the powerful. We had to follow our own calendar and impose it on those above” (SubComandante Marcos – Zapatista organizer)

“Surely the agents of the government, businessmen and political parties have sent to inform you what happens here. After hearing us and hearing you, they will write in their report a false alarm. There’s nothing to be worried about. The suspects are crazy and they haven’t noticed each other. End of report” (SubComandante Marcos – Zapatista organizer)

“What follows is not a new political party on the left, but a huge front made up of political and social organizations” (SubComandante Marcos – Zapatista organizer)

“We have to make sure of our place in society as indigenous Indians that we have won. In Mexico, there are movements, there are revolutions and change, but for the indigenous nothing changes” (SubComandante Marcos – Zapatista organizer)

“The movement is growing, more people are coming in, we are getting to know people that we did not know before” (SubComandante Marcos – Zapatista organizer)

 Quotes From Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

“Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people” (Karl Marx)

“Communism is the riddle of history solved, and it knows itself to be this solution”(Karl Marx)

“Let the ruling classes tremble at a communist revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Working men of all countries, unite” (Karl Marx and Freidrick Engels)

“Political economy regards the proletarian like a horse, he must receive enough to enable him to work. It does not consider him, during the time when he is not working, as a human being. It leaves this to criminal law, doctors, religion, statistical tables, politics, and the beadle” (Karl Marx)

“The theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property” (Karl Marx)

“In a higher phase of communist society… only then can the narrow horizon of bourgeois right be fully left behind and society inscribe on its banners: from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs” (Karl Marx)

“An Ounce of action is worth a ton of theory”(Friedrich Engels)

Lenin and Trotsky

Quotes From Russian, Chinese and Vietnamese Communist Revolutionaries

“Without revolutionary theory there can be no revolutionary movement” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Bah, tombstones are only good for pigeons to sit on” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“A lie told often enough becomes the truth” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“A revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, not every revolutionary situation leads to revolution” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Any cook should be able to run the country” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Can a nation be free if it oppresses other nations? It cannot” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Capitalists are no more capable of self-sacrifice than a man is capable of lifting himself up by his own bootstraps” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Communism is Soviet power plus the electrification of the whole country” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Crime is a product of social excess” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Democracy is indispensable to socialism” (Vladimir Lenin)

“Despair is typical of those who do not understand the causes of evil, see no way out, and are incapable of struggle. The modern industrial proletariat does not belong to the category of such classes” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Every cook has to learn how to govern the state” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Fascism is capitalism in decay” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Freedom in capitalist society always remains about the same as it was in ancient Greek republics: Freedom for slave owners” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“Give us the child for 8 years and it will be a Bolshevik forever” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“If it were necessary to give the briefest possible definition of imperialism, we should have to say that imperialism is the monopoly stage of capitalism” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“If Socialism can only be realized when the intellectual development 2of all the people permits it, then we shall not see Socialism for at least five hundred years” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“It is impossible to predict the time and progress of revolution. It is governed by its own more or less mysterious laws” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed”(Vladimir I Lenin)

“No amount of political freedom will satisfy the hungry masses”
(Vladimir I Lenin)

“One man with a gun can control 100 without one” (Vladimir I Lenin)

“England is nothing but the last ward of the European madhouse, and quite possibly it will prove to be the ward for particularly violent cases” (Leon Trotsky)

“If we had had more time for discussion we should probably have made a great many more mistakes” (Leon Trotsky)

“If we had more time for discussion we should probably have made a great many more mistakes” (Leon Trotsky)

“In a serious struggle there is no worse cruelty than to be magnanimous at an inopportune time” (Leon Trotsky)

“Insurrection is an art, and like all arts has its own laws” (Leon Trotsky )

“Learning carries within itself certain dangers because out of necessity one has to learn from one’s enemies” (Leon Trotsky)

“From being a patriotic myth, the Russian people have become0 an awful reality” (Leon Trotsky)

“Ideas that enter the mind under fire remain there securely and for ever” (Leon Trotsky)9

“Education is a weapon whose effects depend on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.” (Joseph Stalin)

“History shows that there are no invincible armies.” (Joseph Stalin)

“Print is the sharpest and strongest weapon of our party” (Joesph Stalin)


“Without a People’s army, the people have nothing.”  (Mao Tse Tung)

“Soldiers are the foundation of an army; unless they are imbued with a progressive political spirit, and unless such a spirit is fostered through progressive political work, it will be impossible to achieve genuine unity between officers and men, impossible to arouse their enthusiasm for the War of Resistance to the full, and impossible to provide an excellent basis for the most effective use of all our technical equipment and tactics.” (Mao Tse Tung)

“The enemy advances, we retreat. The enemy camps, we harass. The enemy tires, we attack. The enemy retreats, we pursue.” (Mao Tse Tung)

“Wherever our comrades go they must build good relations with the masses, be concerned for them and help them overcome their difficulties. We must unite with the masses, the more of the masses we unite with, the better”  (Mao Tse Tung)

“You can kill ten of our men for every one we kill of yours. But even at those odds, you will lose and we will win.”  (Ho Chi Min)

“Write in such a way as that you can be readily understood by both the young and the old, by men as well as women, even by children”  ( Ho Chi Min)

“Love other human beings as you would love yourself”  (Ho Chi Min)


Karl Marx’s Tomb At Highgate Cemetery by Alex McGuigan

Posted in Karl Marx on November 25, 2013 by The Plough & The Stars

Highgate Cemetery is a vast Victorian Necropolis, in the heart of North London, where the world famous Tomb of Karl Marx is situated. Opened in 1839, it is a truly fascinating place to visit. The Victorian bourgeoisie were big on erecting imposing Gothic mausoleums to themselves and their choice of architecture made a final posthumous statement that they were as ostentatious in death, as they were in life. The cemetery staff are very much of this world, helpful even and they know the layout of this massive necropolis better than most. On entering the main gate there is a small cover charge asked, though it may very well be possible to negotiate a group rate or if one can prove/insist  that they have relatives buried there, it my understanding that quite rightfully there is no fee.

The world famous tomb of the founder of modern Communism lies, not unsurprisingly, to the left of the entrance. It is a massive structure with the bust of Karl Marx atop a plinth in vast dimensions, that goes some way to reflecting the impact that Herr Marx’s ideology has had on the world to date.  Marx’s massive tomb was not his original grave marker, the original tombstone was a much less grand affair but still exists in another corner of Highgate.

Highgate is also the final resting place of many other revolutionaries, the famous and not so well known. Karl Marx’s tomb is by far the most widely known feature of this Gothic necropolis, which incidentally was used as a regular film set in many of the old Hammer horror films.

In recent times Marx’s tomb has been vandalised several times by neo-Nazi boneheads and there was an attempt by Fascists to bomb it in the 1970’s, but it is kept in excellent repair with many bouquets of flowers arranged round the plinth of the tomb. The upkeep of the last resting place of Herr Marx is today paid for by the Chinese Embassy, which seems a fair enough arrangement, considering their antecedents and what they have done supposedly in his name. Although I wonder what Karl would think of it all now? But I guess a gift-horses should not be looked at in the mouth and all that.

The author at Karl Marx's tomb

The author at Karl Marx’s tomb

Highgate’s Other Notable Graves

I was pleasantly surprised to find S.W.A.P.O (South West African Peoples Organisation), S.A.C.P (South African Communist Party) , A.N.C, Irish Republican and other revolutionary gravestones within sight of Karl Marx’s famous tomb. They also appeared to be in good repair and It was re-assuring to know that Herr Marx keeps good company even in death, his Highgate neighbours include revolutionaries, renowned authors and other luminaries, such as:

Claudia Jones, black Communist and fighter for social justice 
•Douglas Adams, author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and other novels 
•Edward Hodges Baily, sculptor 
•Farzad Bazoft, journalist, executed by Saddam Hussein’s regime 
•Jacob Bronowski, scientist, creator of the television series The Ascent of Man 
•Robert William Buss, artist and illustrator 
•Patrick Caulfield, painter and printmaker known for his pop art canvasses 
•Robert Caesar Childers, oriental scholar and writer 
•Lucy Clifford, British novelist and journalist, the wife of William Kingdon Clifford 
•William Kingdon Clifford, mathematician and philosopher 
•John Singleton Copley, Lord Chancellor and son of the American artist 
•Sir Charles Cowper, Premier of NSW, Australia (1857–1859) 
•Charles Cruft, founder of Crufts dog show 
•John Dickens and Elizabeth Dickens, parents of Charles and models for Micawber and Mrs Nickleby 
•The Druce family vault, one of whose members was (falsely) alleged to have been the 5th Duke of Portland. 
•George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans), novelist 
•Claire Epstein, doctor 
•Michael Faraday, physicist 
•Copeland Family, prestigious family and romanian royal lineage. 
•Paul Foot, campaigning journalist & revolutionary socialist 
•William Friese-Greene, cinema pioneer. The memorial is credited to Edwin Lutyens 
•Stella Gibbons, novelist 
•Lou Gish, actress, daughter of Sheila Gish 
•Sheila Gish, actress 
•Craft Copeland 
•Robert Grant VC. soldier and police constable 
•Radclyffe Hall, author of The Well of Loneliness and other novels 
•Mansoor Hekmat, Communist leader and founder of the Worker-Communist Party of Iran and Worker-Communist Party of Iraq 
•James Holman, sightless 19th-century adventurer known as “the Blind Traveller” 
•George Henry Lewes, critic 
•Alexander Litvinenko, Russian dissident turned critic, murdered by poisoning in London 
•Charles Lucy, artist 
•Anna Mahler, sculpturess 
•Frank Matcham, theatre architect 
•Carl Mayer, Austrian-German screenwriter of The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari and Sunrise 
•Ralph Miliband, left wing political theorist, father of reformist British Labour Party personalities David Miliband and Ed Miliband 
•Henry Moore, (1841–93), marine painter 
•Dachine Rainer, poet and anarchist

Fantastic neighbours to have in death or life, although if there was to be some mysterious, improbable resurrection in that corner of Highgate cemetery, there could well be some heated debate or riotous assembly.

The most prominent inscriptions on Karl Marx’s tomb are from the last lines of Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto:

Workers of All Lands Unite”

 and of equal prominence is a prophetic quotation from Marx’s Theses On Feuerbach many interpret may mean that social revolutions throughout history have rarely come on our own terms:

“The Philosophers have only interpreted the World in various ways. The point however is to change it” 

The above were first written well over a century ago, yet still retain their resonance in contemporary times. For some a visit to Highgate Cemetery may be a fascinating historical trip, and no doubt for others it may well even be a pilgrimage of sorts.  Highgate cemetery is easily accessed by public transport which is listed in detail on it’s own dedicated website.

Alex McGuigan

Review of The Lost Revolution: The Story of The Official IRA And The Workers Party by Alex McGuigan

Posted in Uncategorized on November 22, 2013 by The Plough & The Stars

Brian Hanley and Scott Millars’ book The Lost Revolution is as near a definitive history of the Official Republican Movement as there is available. At over 650 pages The Lost Revolution requires a fair degree of commitment but it is well worth it. Unlike Ed Moloney’s ‘Secret History’ of the Provisional IRA, this is far from a hatchet-job and although there will be some uncomfortable retrospective reading for old and not so old Stickies, the authors are fairly sympathetic to the Officials aims, if not their means.

The ‘Lost Revolution’ charts the progress of Official-style Republican Socialism from the 1969 split in the Irish Republican Army, which initially saw two competing IRA’s who became known as the Provisional IRA and the Official IRA. The Official IRA, overtly the more Left-wing entity, became known colloquially as The Stickies due to their opting for adhesive backed Easter Lilly badges to differentiate themselves from the Provisionals and that moniker literally ‘stuck’ to them for over four decades. (The Provisionals were initially nicknamed ‘pinheads’ due to their Easter Lilly badges being kept in place by traditional pins but unlike their separated comrades in the Officials, that nickname didn’t last!)

The Lost Revolution goes into great detail of the trials and tribulations of the early Official IRA following the 1969 split and the various internecine feuds with their old comrades, which they refer to as ‘pogroms’ although it would be fair to say that both IRA’s were prolific in their near fratricidal feuds and indeed revisited their definition of pogroms on members of the then fledgling Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) who were formed from the more militant elements of the Officials. The book goes some way to challenge the later blatant anti-Republican revisionism that the Sticky leadership adhered to, especially when they achieved favoured status from the British government in later years following their 1972 indefinite ceasefire. Hanley and Millar are not shy in identifying the malevolent influence of Eoin Harris and the near hegemonic grip the Sticks had on various sections of the media and specifically RTE.

Seamus Costello, the emergence of the Irish Republican Socialist Party and the INLA from the most radical elements within the Official IRA does not receive particularly favourable treatment from Hanley and Millar but that is to be expected considering the authors’ background. However, The Lost Revolution does not maintain the fiction of the Official IRA’s supposed non-existence and clearly charts it’s continued existence as possibly the Stickies worse kept secret throughout the years. The authors recount the Officials’ (in their various guises from Republican Clubs/Official Sinn Fein to Sinn Fein/The Workers Party, to eventually just The Workers’ Party ) dubious fraternal relationships with RUC Special Branch, the NIO, Loyalist paramilitaries and Unionist politicians while acting as possibly the most vocal critics of the Provisionals and indeed Irish Republican Socialists – who they described as“Costello’s gutter-rats!” Ironically, Seamus Costello is respected and commemorated in equal measure over 30 years after his murder by the Officials, yet few will remember Tom Gill..

The Officials/Workers Party certainly had many brilliant ideas, for instance their cadre education camp at Mornington and building strong fraternal links with the former Socialist countries. No-one can doubt their commitment to their project and the Lost Revolution confirms that. For the dedicated Sticky cadre, their ends always justified the means and no departure from traditional Republicanism or indeed Republican Socialism, was too much of an ideological stretch for them in their pursuit of political power and respectability. There are invaluable lessons for contemporary Irish Republicans from the Officials’ political journey from literally boom to bust! At the height of their political influence, especially in the Southern 26 counties, they had 7 TDS in Leinster House and came within a whisker of eclipsing the Free State Labour Party. Unfortunately for the Workers Party the various contradictions within their movement contained the seeds of their own destruction, as their mixed bag of Social Democrats, Stalinists, professional politicians, professional thieves, secret paramilitaries and anti-paramilitaries eventually caused unreconcilable contradictions. The rest is history – with the majority of the Southern and parliamentary party morphing into Democratic Left and finally merging with the southern Labour Party. The rump of The Workers’ Party which was left with two TDs, the more Stalinist politicos, the Northern element and the Official IRA members eventually split again, with the supposedly more Republican element forming the Official Republican Movement (ORM). The more or less moribund Socialist Network has its’ origins in that split.

Today The Workers’ Party and Official Republicanism is a mere shadow of it’s former self. The party has a couple of councillors in the south of the country and as more ‘69ers’go up the road to Milltown in Starry Plough covered coffins, their presence in Belfast is maintained by a couple of drinking clubs. In the words of Tom Gill (Tomas MacGiolla):

“It took twenty five years to build into a great and effective party and it has been smashed from within in a week!”

As a postscript there are indeed serious lessons for contemporary Irish Republicans to be learned from the machinations of the Officials, their tactical dumping of core values and their journey to near political power. Provisional Sinn Fein‘s current dash towards political respectability, posing as a centrist party in the north while posturing as a leftist party in the 26 countiesw looks very like repeating the mistakes of their old adversaries. The Lost Revolution: The Story of The Official IRA and The Workers’ Party is invaluable reading for anyone with an interest in Irish Republican politics and it will no doubt be political commentators and the fourth estate’s primary reference in years to come when examining the activities of the Stickies and their various incarnations

“Yes, ruling by fooling, is a great British art with great Irish fools to practice on.”

(James Connolly From The Irish Worker, September 1914)


Belfast IRSP Hunger Strike Mural Unveiling 17th November

Posted in Hunger Strikes, Murals on November 14, 2013 by The Plough & The Stars

Belfast IRSP will be unveiling a mural dedicated to the Hunger Strikers on Sunday 17th of November at 2pm at Shaws Road shops, West Belfast.

All welcome!

Contact Gerry Foster, secretary of Belfast executive at Costello House (028 90321024) for further details!

Saoirse go deo!

For further details see IRSP News!


Volunteer Patsy O’Hara was the first of the INLA Hunger Strikers to die


The New ‘Improved’ Supergrass System by Alex McGuigan

Posted in IRSP, Supergrass Trials on November 7, 2013 by The Plough & The Stars

supergrass 02

Joint Loyalist & Republican protest at Stormont against the ‘Supergrass’ paid perjurer show trials of the 1980’s

The northern statelet’s recent unrolling of a new ‘improved’ version of the so-called ‘Supergrass’ legislation, officially termed the ‘Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005‘ after over 25 years gathering dust on the statute books, should be a cause of concern for Republicans, Socialists and activists of all hues possessed of a world view not shaped by neo-liberalism and the likes of the Murdoch media.

Those within the recently expanded constitutional nationalist community who seemed to welcome the last Supergrass show-trial, primarily due to the fact that on this occasion, it was utilized against members of Haddock’s sociopathic north Belfast UVF death-squad and the publicity surrounding the forthcoming Gary Haggerty supergrass trial, displayed regrettable political myopia, not to mention serious amnesia. Not to mention glaring selective amnesia from some sources, most notable being the new Supergrass system’s chief proponent, Public Prosecutions Service (PPS) supremo, and former defence lawyer, Barra McGrory, whose late father represented scores of ‘supergrass’ defendants in the 1980’s.

The bullet proof dock at Belfast Crown Court during the 2012 UVF Supergrass trial


Between 1981 and December 1985 close to 30 paid perjurers or so-called “Supergrasses” were induced to give evidence against over 600 INLA, Provisional IRA and Loyalist defendants.
In the first of the Supergrass trials, involving UVF member Joe Bennett and Provisional IRA members Christopher Black and Kevin McGrady, 90% of defendants were found guilty on the word of their alleged former ‘comrades, while 75% of those who were found guilty were convicted without any supporting or corroborative evidence.

Despite the best efforts of the RUC combined with all the weight of the northern statelet acting in their habitually zealous supportive roles, publicly pushing the concept of the “converted terrorist”, the system eventually fell apart some two years later. Appeal Court judges, their hands forced by international jurisprudence and human rights pressure and the sterling efforts of some of the best lawyers employed by the defendants, overturned convictions that had been secured solely without corroborative evidence.

Republican Socialists suffered disproportionately due to the ‘Supergrass’ system, with scores of IRSM activists imprisoned on the words of a series of paid perjurers. The well-documented repercussions of the Harry Kirkpatrick Supergrass trial almost proved fatal for the entire Republican Socialist Movement, with one of the first victims of the state-induced counter-revolutionaries being the late Ta Power, who held the distinction of being the longest serving remand prisoner in legal history.

The Harry Kirkpatrick Supergrass trial saw 25 Republican Socialists gaoled for lengthy sentences in December, 1985, on the word of a paid perjurer. However, over a year later the vast majority of those gaoled walked free on appeal and in effect, this saw the entire discredited ‘Supergrass system’ being shelved, until 2009, when the new ‘improved’ legislation was first tested on a smaller scale to convict mid-Ulster loyalist Steven Brown (also known as Steven Revels) where his former co-accused, Mark Burcombe, agreed to give evidence against him. The defendant’s appeal was later refused by the Appeal Court and it is thought that this signaled the legal precedent and proverbial green light, for a much more extensive use of the Supergrass system being implemented in the north, as we saw in the recent UVF trial involving the supposedly religiously converted Stewart brothers giving evidence against their former Loyalist death-squad members.

INLA “Supergrass” Harry Kirrkpatrick who would now be now be 58

The New Improved Paid Perjurer System

Unlike the previous Supergrass system, the new so-called ‘Serious Organised Crime and Police Act (SOCPA)’ where those giving evidence are legally referred to as “assisting offenders”, new style Supergrasses are not officially offered ‘immunity’ but are legally guaranteed a significantly reduced sentence. However, in effect, this amounts to what factually happened to many supergrasses from the 1980’s period, who were held in a special ‘Supergrass unit’ in an isolated section of the Crumlin Road gaol, known as the ‘Annexe’, until such times as they gave evidence at the trial of their former comrades.

In the new tweaked Supergrass system, those prepared to give evidence against former associates or comrades, are legally bound to proverbially sing for their supper, with any retraction of agreed evidence (as happened regularly in the 1980’s, with many ‘retracted-Supergrasses’ walking free) leading to a return to court and a re-sentencing to much harsher terms of imprisonment. Furthermore, as was reported following the acquittal of the 14 UVF defendants during the Stewart brothers’ 71 day trial, the prosecutions were reportedly one of the most costly criminal legal actions in legal history.  The Stewart brothers singing for their supper was seen to have been seriously out of tune for their handlers  The PPS stated that they were considering if the Stewart brothers “knowingly failed to give assistance” which negated their part in the SOCPA ‘deal.’ The PPS, headed up by former defence lawyer, Barra McGrory, officially stated:

“Section 74 (2) of the Serious Organised Crime and Police Act 2005 provides the mechanism to examine whether an assisting offender has knowingly failed to give assistance in accordance with the agreement with the prosecutor. The PPS is actively considering this in light of Mr Justice Gillen’s judgement.”

No Jury, No Justice and now No Right To Silence!

What certainly has not changed since the 1980’s Supergrass system is that political trials in the north of Ireland are still not afforded the legal safeguard of a jury. Lecturer in Law at the University of Ulster, Mary O’Rawe, stated that:

“Many of the same concerns that stalked and ultimately resulted in the shelving of the use of such evidence in the early 1980s, still attend the current process.

What certainly has changed since the Supergrass trials of the early 1980’s, is that unlike legislation of that period, when suspects were afforded the ‘right to remain silent’ during interrogation, this has now been factually removed under the “Police and Criminal Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 1988” and the later “Criminal Procedure (Amendment) Rules 2009/”. This legislation allows adverse inferences to be drawn by a Diplock trial judges when considering a verdict, based on a defendant’s failure to mention something prior to being charged with an offence that they may later seek to use in their subsequent defence.

Implications for Republican Socialists, Republicans and Socialists

Like every repressive measure or legislation enacted by the state, it will undoubtedly be used at a time of their choosing against those who seek to challenge the status quo, whether they be Irish Republican Socialist activists, traditional Republican armed groups, anti-Capitalist protesters or even militant trade unionists. With the current crisis in Capitalism allowing states to introduce much more draconian measures to screw the working-class, one can be sure that the iron fist of repression is being prepared to both legally and if need be, extra-judicially, crush any serious oppositional fight back. As was seen in England, with the infamous entrapment and agent provocateur case involving undercover cop-gone native-Mark Kennedy, it is not just’the usual suspects such as Irish Republicans who the state will use extensive legal and illegal resources to repress. Accordingly, non-violent groups, such as environmentalist protestors or in effect, any group that dissents, however mildly, from the status quo could find themselves the latest defendants in a trial under the new Supergrass system.

It would be extreme folly to suspect that the new Supergrass legislation will only be used against Loyalists. Ironically, it was during the previous Supergrass era of the early 1980’s that Republicans and Loyalists took part in rare joint protests against the use of paid perjurers in the north of Ireland. Irish Republican Socialists are right to point out the injustice of the new ‘improved’ Supergrass system on principle, irrespective of who it’s latest victims are, not least because history has shown us how easily the same repressive measures may be aimed directly at ourselves, when deemed politically expedient by the forces of reaction and the armed guardians of the state.

Many may think it equally ironic, that a former defence lawyer whose  late father, Paddy McGrory, would have been one of the most vociferous  critics of the original Supergrass system, is now it’s chief proponent and public apologist but others, better-versed in the anomalies of the Irish dialectic, rightly would adhere to United Irishmen leader, Henry Joy McCracken’s oft quoted assertion that when it becomes politically advantageous for the petit-bourgeoisie:

“The rich will always betray the poor!”

Henry Joy McCracken


Alex McGuigan,

Belfast 2013

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