Archive for the Armed Struggle Category

PFLP: October 17 remains a heroic example of resistance

Posted in Ahmad Sa’adat, Alex McGuigan, Anti-Zionism, Armed Struggle, Commemoration, Gaza, International socialism, Palestine, PFLP, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2017 by The Plough & The Stars

SOURCE: PFLPpflp 02

The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades, the armed wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, issued a statement on the 16th anniversary of the October 17 operation, emphasizing that those forces that attack the resistance and defend the enemy are on a criminal path, because the path to achieving the Palestinian dream and promise of liberation is that of resistance and revolutionary violence.

“The weapon of the resistance is not up for negotiated, and we will not allow it to be violated or compromised. These weapons are legitimate so long as the occupation remains on the land of Palestine,” emphasized the Brigades.

Marking the 16th anniversary of the assassination of the infamous extreme-right racist Zionist minister of tourism Rehavam Zeevi, the Brigades also stated that the way to break siege and free prisoners is well-known and is our top priority.

The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades emphasized to the Zionist oppressors that their fighters are more capable and better equipped, yet on the road of the heroes of October 17. They emphasized their loyalty to the imprisoned leader, PFLP General Secretary comrade Ahmad Sa’adat, and confirmed that they march on the road of the October 17 heroes, Ahed Abu Ghoulmeh, Majdi Rimawi, Mohammed Rimawi, Hamdi Qur’an and Basil al-Asmar.

The elimination of the Zionist criminal Rehavam Zeevi was not simple revenge or a disorganized reaction. Instead it was a culmination of painstaking efforts made by the special units of the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades to make it clear to the enemy and to all the enemies of the people that the blood of the Palestinian people and their leaders is not cheap and cannot be shed in vain. The operation also came to declare that all the projects of displacement, Zionization and attempts to disperse the Palestinian people will never succeed in eliminating or suppressing the resistance, a fact made clear by a single bullet in the right time and in the right place, emphasized the Brigades.

As we mark this heroic anniversary of struggle and pledge to win the freedom of the imprisoned fighters and leaders of October 17, we re-publish two pieces on this operation and its ongoing meaning:

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October 17 and Beyond – An Interview with Comrade Khalil Maqdesi (original link)

The following dialogue was conducted for this website with Comrade Khalil Maqdesi by Comrade Rayya Amin on October 17, 2008. Comrade Maqdesi covers a broad range of critical topics, from the legacy of October 17, to the Palestinian resistance, to the future of Palestinian national unity in an era of “negotiations” and “security cooperation,” in this wide-ranging and penetrating discussion of the important issues facing the Palestinian cause and the Palestinian national liberation movement today.

Rayya Amin: Today marks the seventh anniversary of the October 17 heroic operation against the racist Zionist tourism minister, Rehavam Ze’evi, in response to the assassination of General Secretary Abu Ali Mustafa by a U.S.-made missile fired from a helicopter into his office by the occupation army. Several days ago, the Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades made statements about the current situation, where Palestinians in Akka are facing an ongoing assault from racist Zionists, and standing steadfast in the face of house burnings, stonings, beatings and repeated calls for their “transfer” – invoking al-Nakba, as well as Ze’evi’s infamous campaigns. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades statement particularly noted the responsibility of Avigdor Lieberman, an infamous advocate of transfer and notorious racist, and warned that if these events do not stop, Lieberman will face the same fate as Ze’evi. This statement – paying tribute to the resistance and steadfastness of our people in our occupied homeland of 1948 – also made clear the unity of all of our people, and that the operation of October 17 was not an isolated heroic act but part of an ongoing and historic struggle. On this anniversary, how do you envision our struggle today?

Khalil Maqdesi: Our understanding, in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, of our enemy and of our conflict with this enemy, Israel, is very clear. We view Israel as a colonial settler project/state backed and fully supported by imperialist powers, particularly the United States. This state is illegitimate and will always be illegitimate, as it has been based on the oppression and suffering of our people for the past sixty years. The PFLP cannot see any reconciliation or acceptance of this state, of any acceptance of racism, colonialism, Zionism and the settler project in Palestine.

We also do not view the situation as a Palestinian – Israeli conflict only, although this is central. It is also an Arab – Israeli conflict, and international conflict. Take, for example, the relationship of Iran or Venezuela with Israel; it is an international conflict. Israel belongs to one camp – the camp of imperialism – against all progressive forces in the world and against all forces who resist imperialism. Israel is waging war against all Arab nations – its aggression has reached the shores of Tunisia. There is not one Arab country that has not faced the onslaught of Zionist aggression, directly or indirectly, over the years. The fact that Arab reactionary regimes, particularly those in Egypt an Jordan, have engaged in ‘peace agreements’ and the like, the fact that these reactionary regimes have attempted to impose normalization with this illegitimate state upon our people, does nothing to change the fundamental nature of the relationship between the Arab people and the colonial settler project. These regimes are illegitimate and unelected and do not speak for the people.

On the other hand, we see another example that does represent our people. We can see clearly, on the ground, that resistance works. We saw that in Lebanon, we are seeing that in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and in Palestine. Resistance works. Submission to Israeli and American conditions, on the other hand, while fooling oneself under an illusion of peace, is a road to nowhere. We have seen this throughout the past fifteen years of the so-called “peace process” of Oslo and beyond, that this is a dead-end road for our people and our cause.

Rayya Amin: This is an important point that you mention. Recently we have been seeing a lot of articles and really, propaganda from the Zionist press, aimed at demoralizing the resistance by promoting the industry of “security cooperation” between Palestinian forces and the Zionist state. These articles have been really disgusting, with Palestinian “security” commanders arranging for funding, arms, and training from U.S. CIA and similar entities and the occupation army. It’s really difficult to see this as anything other than an attempt to forcibly push our people down this fruitless path of a so-called “peace process” and turn Palestinians into the front-line forces suppressing the resistance of our own people.

Khalil Maqdesi: First of all, this security cooperation is met with mass popular condemnation by our people in Palestine and in exile. It was one of the major objects of the Oslo accords – to turn Palestinian forces into guards for the occupation. Furthermore, it enhances and deepens the disunity in Palestinian society and raises the level of military oppression and aggression by the police forces against the resistance. We have seen the actions of the security forces against journalists, writers, trade unionists and other popular activists, and we have witnessed executions like that last week in Jericho prison. We in the PFLP have warned in the path that the road of this so-called “security cooperation” will lead to the authority becoming a tool in the hands of occupation. Those who supported Oslo argued otherwise, saying that this is a necessary step towards building a Palestinian state. We saw otherwise – this is not building a Palestinian state and is in fact contrary to democratic process and values and has racked up countless violations against our people.
It deceives and transmits a false message about the relationship of the Palestinian people with Israel and with these forces, as if there is some form of sovereignty or a Palestinian state. These police operate at the permission and pleasure of the occupation and receive permission in order to attack Palestinians. Some of these forces in the leadership of the security forces are quite clearly collaborators with the occupation, when they receive arms, funds and training from the occupier, they are collaborators akin to the South Lebanon Army, to UNITA in Angola, to the Contras in Nicaragua. There is always an attempt to create a local tool by the colonizers for their work.

This is also part of the so-called “war on terror” being waged by U.S. imperialism, and an attempt to bring a Palestinian force into this regional “war,” in direct confrontation with the Palestinian resistance.

We have also seen a transformation of our cause into “security” questions. Political and civil issues have been handled by Egyptian, Jordanian, Palestinian and Israeli intelligence services – not by civil or political institutions, including our national dialogue. They want to turn the question of Palestine into a “security issue,” something that clearly and definitely serves the strategic goals of Israel and the United States.

Rayya Amin: Also, the security cooperation and the arming and training of this collaborator force by the U.S. and Israel is very much clearly part of the plans of these parties to divide our people and create disunity. The operation of these “security cooperation” forces does nothing to provide security for Palestinians – that would be providing security against the occupier, not working with the occupier against our people and our resistanc. The attempts to transform our national cause into a question of “security” and the institutions of “security” and “authority” rather than institutions of a national liberation movement can do nothing but cause division and undermine the fundamental framework of our national cause and national unity, that is based on our unity in struggle against the occupier.

Khalil Maqdesi: It is worth noting here, also, however, one of the false illusions about the past before the Oslo era – the idea that the Palestinian national liberation movement and the Palestine Liberation Organization were democratic institutions. In fact, they were not, and because of that, we have come to Oslo. The reason we are here is because of our past, because of things that have come before and policies that were conducted in the past. It is also worthwhile to state that there are no clean hands in this past, in terms of democracy, and we must learn these lessons moving forward.

The tools that have come before Oslo have led to this point, and we must be honest about that. Abu Mazen, Abu Ala’a, these forces who signed Oslo – are those that corrupted the PLO. There is no democratic process of building an authority under occupation. The alternative, however, is to rebuild our institutions not as authorities in league with the occupation, but to reclaim the potential of the PLO as the representative and unifying structure for our people, our cause, our national liberation movement.

Rayya Amin: Speaking of the PLO, the PLO at its best has always stood as a symbol of national unity and national consensus of the Palestinian people. Today, however, we are looking back on 15 years of Oslo, following a campaign to replace the PLO with an authority that exists in cooperation with the occupation and whose institutions have been decimated, and yet does not embrace the spectrum of the forces that comprise our national liberation movement. We’ve seen agreements, like the Cairo Declaration, to rebuild the PLO and make it inclusive, but the real division has only worsened since then. How can we revitalize and rebuild the PLO, and where are we going in the campaign to reassert our national unity?

Khalil Maqdesi: We must end the Oslo process in its entirety. We in the PFLP see that there is a direct connection between the continuation of the negotiations and Palestinian internal disunity. We have also seen the Palestinian leadership of the PA undermining the PLO itself and attempts to fragment the Palestinian people itself, people in the West Bank from Gaza from our people in exile from our people in 48.

Our national unity must be based on our national constants only. For example when Abu Mazen declared to the media his willingness to undermine our fundamental right to return, this only deepens the disunity. We also see that building national unity requires real political will not only on the part of the factions but also popular institutions to take their place and uphold their responsibilities to build national unity from the streets and the grassroots up. when people are confronting their enemy and building their society from the ground up, their institutions and their economic autonomy, national unity is strengthened. There is a clear and honorable example of Palestinian national unity in the prisons of the occupation. Despite all of the attempts of the occupation to fracture the Palestinian prisoners, they have failed and the prisoners are a shining example of national unity in action in confrontation of the occupation.

It is also important that national unity be in the interests of the popular classes of our Palestinian people – against all exploitation and oppression. National unity does not just mean unity of the political forces, but must involve and include all sectors of society – students, women, trade unionists. We cannot discuss national unity without a real discussion of the sectors of our society, their institutions, and the importance of strengthening the relationships and joint programs of struggle against the occupation and the liquidation of the Palestinian cause. This strengthens national unity on the ground.

RA: This is a really essential point. The reason national unity has been under attack by Israel and the United States is because it is so important for our people. The U.S., Israel, the so-called “Quartet”, try to redefine our national unity with conditions and terms that are based on a Palestinian identity that is acceptable to the enemy, and actually present only a path to disunity and division. There is no national unity to be found in these conditions imposed from outside. The point you raise, on the other hand, that national unity is among our people, and it is against the occupation rather than in accordance to its terms – is the only path to meaningful national unity, rather than empty phrases.

KM: National unity is a strategic necessity for victory. The enemy is pushing to create multiple Palestinian discourses, for the benefit of Israel.

National unity is not also a vague slogan, without meaning or implementation. Inside our institutions, schools, and organizations, it has to be a culture that political parties push for and enhance, rather than undermine. This is something we have to build within Palestine and also in exile, among our people and our national institutions – it is our responsibility as political parties.

RA: It is worth noting that national unity is not Palestinian Authority unity, it is Palestinian national unity. These are 2 different things.

So often the discussion of Palestinian national unity is directed as if the question is how to arrange the seats or cabinet members of the Authority, but this does little to address the real question of national unity in our struggle. I want to raise the question – how do you see the dialogue in cairo as being part of building national unity? How is it something other than just another pointless charade?

KM: Yes, we have always called for a comprehensive national dialogue. We have an understanding of this dialogue. First of all, it must come without preconditions, and it must address the real issues – the question of strengthening the Palestinian resistance, Palestinian intitutions, the Palestine Liberation Organization, the Palestinian National Council, the rebuilding of our mass organizations and unions, and dealing politically with the challenges that we face today – the Wall in the West Bank, the siege on Gaza, the struggle for freedom of 11000 Palestinian prisoners, the settlements, the attacks on our people in 48, the attempts to liquidate the right of return. These are all issues of common struggle that we must face collectively. We must also face that the alternative to this comprehensive, open dialogue is division and nothing else. We have seen that the agreement between Fateh and Hamas which took place in Mecca failed miserably because it was not based on national assurance and popular assurance but rather merely on dividing seats and assigning positions.

We must also be patient and acknowledge that, like all nations, we have different political views among our people, within our national consensus. Not all division and discussion or disagreement or contradiction is negative. On the contrary, our national institutions can be a democratic place where these issues are addressed and resolved in a progressive and democratic manner as part of our revolution.

RA: Looking at my bookshelf, I see books published by the Palestine Research Center – by the PLO – in the 1970s, highlighting the various positions of the resistance, of the factions, of the sectors of the revolution. This was not unhealthy or divisive. On the contrary, it reflected a vibrant revolutionary discourse and a living movement. I think it is critical that we look toward examining this in a positive light and look at national unity as unity on our core principles, firm adherence to our national rights, unity in our resistance and in confrontation of the occupation, but that includes as a necessary condition ongoing political discussion and struggle. That is a healthy part of a revolutionary movement. It is the opposite of this bickering over positions and authority that has done so much harm to our people.

KM: In the past, when this rose to the level of armed disagreement, it was known as “the dialogue with guns,” and it came to an end, it was stopped, because our people demanded it. Now, our people – our institutions, popular organizations, civil society – must be heard very loudly and very clearly, from the level of the streets and the grassroots up, demanding meaningful national unity and an end to the division. This is the mechanism that can truly bring this division to a much-needed end.

RA: The General Secretary, Abu Ghassan (Ahmad Sa’adat), is currently continuing to face the occupation courts. It should be noted that Abu Ghassan’s case also is deeply and directly related to these issues – he was a prisoner of the Palestinian Authority for years, before he was kidnapped by the occupation forces. The occupation illegitimate courts have postponed his trial yet again, this time to November 25, and it is clear that they want to keep dragging this out for as extended a time as possible. There have been a number of events around the world – in Syria, in Canada and elsewhere – focusing on his case, and these are very important initiatives.

KM: Well, I think one of the things that needs to be said about Abu Ghassan’s case is that obviously the occupation wishes to continue this case forever. It is a battle between the General Secretary and the illegitimate courts. They are trying to pressure Comrade Ahmad on a personal level as well as to pressure the PFLP, denying him family visits, transferring him, holding him in isolation and solitary confinement, for example. The very first thing we must understand that he is a hostage and must be liberated. The prisoners are 11,000 hostages and the occupation is seeking to use them to pressure our people everywhere, to try to extract concessions in order to free these hostages.

The conditions of the prisoners and of the national leadership among the prisoners are really quite harrowing, and the daily oppression directed against the prisoners has been continually increasing. We’ve seen them trying to force Guantanamo clothing – the infamous orange jumpsuits – upon our prisoners, and Abu Ghassan has played a leading role, in the prisoners’ rejection of this. Abu Ghassan’s case symbolizes the war against the resistance and the entire Palestinian people, while the international community is silent.

RA: They are worse than silent. The U.S. and Britain are directly culpable for his imprisonment – they guarded his illegal imprisonment for four years, and arranged in advance to vacate their posts to allow for his kidnapping in the attack on Jericho prison by the occupation forces.

KM: Every time they take him to the court, he refuses to recognize it and its illegitimate nature, but instead uses it as a soapbox to call for upholding our Palestinian constants and the brotherhood and sisterhood of all of our people, and for our national unity. His clarity exposes the occupation and its crimes and the failure of its policies and the entire Zionist project in Palestine, and upholds the achievements of the Intifada. They are continually restricting his personal situation so that even his wife and children cannot visit him – they have been continually denied visits since March. They want to pressure him and silence this vital, symbolic and critical voice. The only link he has to the outside world is through his attorneys.

His steadfastness is a symbol of all Palestinian prisoners and, it is worth noting that he is a leader among the prisoners as well. He has always been a leader in the prisoner movement, in his past experiences in prison, and now he plays a major role in the struggle inside the prisons.

RA: You raise an important point about Abu Ghassan’s speeches before the court – you mention the achievements of the Intifada, this second Intifada. There are many who degrade this intifada, and say it has failed, or accomplished little to nothing, or even harmed our people and our cause, and it is quite refreshing to hear, instead, about upholding the achievements of the intifada, particularly when it has become a trend to dismiss this intifada rather than to celebrate it.

KM: The first achievement of this Intifada is that it proved, conclusively, the utter failure of the Oslo process. It exposed the bankruptcy of the “peace process” and made clear that it has been nothing more than a charade based on the continuing abrogation of Palestinian national rights. It made clear that our core rights – our right to return, our right to self-determination, our right to be free of occupation – were nowhere to be found in the Oslo process, and that our people were not willing to accept this and will continue to demand these rights until victory.

It is also key to note that this intifada strengthened the military resistance inside Palestine in such a way as has never been seen before, which is an enormous accomplishment of our people and our resistance.

Furthermore, this Intifada put Israel in the position of being forced to constantly confront the issue of the nature of the Israeli state and raised these critical questions: What is the nature of Israel, its racist, colonial, illegitimate nature? How can there be any solution in the face of this racist state? How can such a state exist? And it faces these questions and this discourse now, because of the resistance and steadfastness of the Palestinian people in this Intifada, in the face of this aggression. This intifada has made quite clear two sides of the equation – Palestinian steadfastness and suffering and Israeli occupation and oppression. Both point to the fundamental issue of what is Israel. This intifada has exposed this question of the world, raised it among intellectuals and in the academy. The emergence of this discourse that challenges the Zionist project and its illegitimacy in our homeland, the reason this is a topic of debate and discussion now, is because of the achievements of the Intifada and the sacrifices of our people.

RA: There is now an attempt almost to set the clock back, and to erase the last eight years, to instead speak of a path of endless “negotiations” leading nowhere, of “final status agreements” and a “peace process” that seems to have no connection to reality. Even the “security cooperation” harkens back to the conditions of Oslo, and the implementation of the so-called “Roadmap” designed by the U.S. – only, of course, against our Palestinian people. –

KM: Israel is given a green light – all of what it did, its crimes against our people, are ignored, and it acts as if it is a “peace partner” while building settlements, arresting and killing our people and engaging in a daily siege and occupation. The process of security cooperation goes hand in hand with the negotiations – one cannot be separated from the other, as the whole intention of the “peace process” is to find a Palestinian governance to act on behalf of the occupier.

In fact, Israel has practiced U.S. policy on a regional scale throughout the Intifada, from the slogan of “harboring terrorism” to the assassination of the first ranks of the leadership of our people – from Yasser Arafat, to Abu Ali Mustafa, to Sheikh Yassin, to Fathi Shiqaqi and hundreds of others. The Palestinian leadership cannot blame the intifada for their failures – when they blame the intifada, they are actually blaming the people. When Abu Mazen, or the PA leadership, or the Fayyad regime blames the intifada, they blame the people, the martyrs, and the prisoners. Indeed, they have shown little concern for the prisoners other than as yet another issue in the so-called “negotiations.” It is worth pointing out that the Authority created this situation for Abu Ghassan when they imprisoned him in Jericho and allowed him to be held under U.S. and British guards, and today – there is no statement of solidarity with him.

RA: It is adopting the argument of the occupation that the people are at fault for our own oppression because we continue to resist. And returning to the question of resistance, and highlighting the point that you have made about the war of assassinations against our people and particularly against the front ranks of our leadership, how do you assess today October 17 and its lessons?

KM: The lesson of October 17 is that the occupier must learn that for its actions, there will be consequences and repercussions. We are as Palestinians and in the Popular Front, to praise the heroic quality, strategic and skilled ability and will of our resistance, and the firmness of the decision-making and action by political leaders and the heroes of the Wadie Haddad Group who executed the operation, in which the infamous racist Zionist tourism minister and advocate of the “transfer” of our people, Rehavam Ze’evi, was killed by the arms and the awareness of fighters from the PFLP, coming in response to the assassination of our great leader Abu Ali Mustafa.

However, the official Palestinian leadership did not succeed in taking the message of October 17 – that there is no end to the assassinations of our leaders and our people carried out by the enemy forces, without just such strategic decisions that extract a high cost from the enemy but also require great steadfastness and political will on behalf of our leadership, who are subject to great risk. It is regrettable that the operation of October 17, though an act of valor, accuracy and accomplishment, ramians an orphan. We have not achieved the collective goal of the Palestinian resistance, in all of its visions and currents, in this long battle with a vicious and strong enemy.

We are discussing a mere act of a “culture of revenge.” Rather, we are discussing a concrete and strategic decision to make it clear to the enemy that there is a distinct price to be paid for the campaign of assassination and sixty years of crimes against our people, and that we will simply not allow this to continue without creating a situation in which it is very difficult for the occupier to continue its crimes.

It is no secret that the Front has and will make further attempts to liquidate such symbols of the Zionist enemy. Even attempts that are not fully successful exert pressure upon the enemy. However, for the Front to continue along this difficult path of struggle means that dealing with this in the resistance, the logic of force and deterrence, and utilizing October 17 as a model, must become a culture of all of the resistance forces, and not just a heroic tale of glory that speaks to our emotions. October 17 is a symbol of heroism, yes, but it is also a difficult yet necessary strategic action and path for our resistance. The enemy knows well that the conflict between it and the Front did not begin with the assassination of Abu Ali Mustafa, nor with October 17. There is no need for a narrative of confrontations, but only to point out that we will meet with this enemy only in the field of confrontation.

Everyone knows the lesson – that the liquidation of the personality is not nearly so important as the impact of the liquidation of the role of that individual and the school and the trend that he represents. Comrade Abu Ali Mustafa was well-known to the Zionist enemy for his positions, his commitment and his leadership in the Palestinian arena, and he was known to face the daily threat of assassination because of who and what he represented, stood for and lived. They killed him, and the Front responded by killing the one who represented the naked and ugly face of Zionist racism – the school and the trend of the occupier.

At the end, October 17 is a shining example – a star on the path of Palestinian resistance toward victory.

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PFLP: Arrests of our leaders will not deter us from continuing resistance

Posted in Ahmad Sa’adat, Alex McGuigan, Anti-Zionism, Armed Struggle, cadre, Gaza, Human Rights, Hunger Strikes, Imperialism, Internationalism, Palestine, PFLP, PFLP/IRSP Solidarity, Political prisoners, Solidarity, Statements, zionism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 4, 2017 by The Plough & The Stars

Source: PFLP

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine confirmed that the Zionist occupation forces launched a pre-dawn campaign of raids across the occupied West Bank of Palestine on Sunday, arresting a number of leaders and activists of the Front, led by the Palestinian Legislative Council member Khalida Jarrar, feminist activist Khitam Saafin and former prisoner Ihab Massoud, as well as a number of activists in al-Khalil. The Front declared that these attacks will not stop it from continuing its role in resistance to occupation and confronting the crimes and projects that attempt to liquidate the Palestinian cause.

The Front emphasized that these arrests only underline the futility of the choices of the Palestinian Authority to continue to bet on settlements, “peace process” and security coordination. It also confirms the correctness of the Front’s position and its continuing struggle to build the resistance and the primary contradiction with the occupation as a major feature of its approach and political positions.

The Front further stated that these arrests have come after the major campaign of incitement launched by the Zionist entity and its prime minister, the war criminal Benjamin Netanyahu, against the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the resistance factions.

The PFLP urged the Palestinian masses to escalate the popular movement to support the struggle of the brave prisoners in Israeli jails, for Jarrar and Saafin and the prisoner Muhammad Allan, on hunger strike for 25 days.

The Front promised to continue to defend the rights and principles of the Palestinian people. Continued targeting by the occupation only emphasizes the importance of continuing the path to return and liberation.

الجبهة الشعبية لتحرير فلسطين

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine
July 2, 2017

Don’t Try Us Again! Great Speech by Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah

Posted in anti-ISIL, Anti-Zionism, Armed Struggle, cadre, Hezbollah, Internationalism, Lebanon, Sayyid Hasan Nasrallah, Solidarity, Statements with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 1, 2017 by The Plough & The Stars

Hezbollah Helps Civilian Population of Haifa

Assessing Armed Actions (Source: IRSP News)

Posted in Armed Struggle, IRSP on November 16, 2014 by The Plough & The Stars

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Source:  IRSP News  (An Internal IRSP Cumann discussion document)

Throughout 2014, a plethora of veterans and independent Republican commentators aired their opinions on what they saw as the futility of armed actions in the current environment. Consecutive letters, interviews and press releases emerged, in what was clearly a co-ordinated if well meaning attempt to put pressure upon those Republicans still on a war footing with the British state in Ireland.
The following analysis from the IRSP is not part of that public initiative and should not be viewed in that light.
Rather, five years on from the formal announcement of an end to the INLA armed campaign, it is intended as a dialectical analysis of the merits and drawbacks of continued armed actions, and from the perspective of those still deeply committed to maintaining the Revolutionary tradition in Ireland.

In 2009 the Republican Socialist movement standing collectively, stated their belief that future Revolutionary struggle in Ireland would be best served using unarmed methods, while simultaneously reaffirming our opposition to the failed reformist politics of the Good FridayAgreement.

That statement was made during a period, in which the remaining IRA groupings were assuring themselves and their supporters that they were in the ascendancy and following a short upsurge in armed activity including the shooting dead of two British soldiers near Antrim and a Police man in Craigavon.

In the five preceding years, the groupings involved have sustained losses well beyond any perceivable logistical or political gains which could have been attained through their combined efforts.

Many scores of Republicans now languish in prison, often in sub-human conditions and facing a heartless and vindictive regime that has decades of experience in the torture and marginalising of Irish POWs.

As a movement supportive of all POWs, and whose membership are all too aware of the realities and hardships of prison struggle, we have no interest appearing to belittle the position of today’s Republican prisoners and it is not for us to point out the dynamics which may have led to their incarceration.

We do however maintain the right to comment upon the impact which continued armed actions have had on the general political landscape here and on the Republican Socialist struggle in particular.

The immediate impact

Firstly the imprisonment of so many political activists has been a godsend to the state and to opponents of popular political struggle in Ireland and not only in terms of bodies lost on the ground.

In addition to locking up scores of Republicans; Britain has seized the opportunity to tie down remaining activists in an endless cycle of prison based campaigns; ensuring that the time, resources and energies of militantly minded Republicans are eternally deflected from the vital task of building a viable street basedalternative to the corrupt political and economic setup which now exists in Ireland.

This alone amounts to a successful outflanking of certain anti-GFA republicans, it is the result of a clearly thought out strategy on Britain’s behalf, yet it has rarely been mentioned by supporters of those practicing armed actions. Instead a misperception is promoted which claims that a viable armed Republican movement can magically be built on the back of prison campaigns.

Yet this is rapidly proving not to be the case, and today the partitionist states, their policy makers, financiers and apologists escape relatively unscathed from militant political and social upheaval, certainly in comparison to other European countries, as hundreds of young Republican activists here instead focus their energies (however gallantly) on white line pickets and protests relevant only to a single issue.

At a time when Irish revolutionary voices could have been using their energies and talents to utilise public frustration on the street to build the Republican Socialist fight against austerity, sectarianism and the ongoing failures of partition; proponents of armed actions here are in fact depleting that potential, offering a scapegoat argument to our oppressors – who by talking up the threat – both maximise their own budgets and draconian powers and deflect the public’s mind away from the increasing raft of socio-economically grounded injustices and inequalities which are facing the Irish working class today.

This is a bizarre position for Irish Republicans to remain static within, it is neither logistically wise nor in keeping with traditional IRA practice, which since 1916 and throughout the decades always advocated recognition of when the time simply was not right to fight.

Yet the self defeating dynamic remains in place, it is a dynamic which Britain and supporters of Stormont can live with indefinitely and for as long as the remaining IRA groupings allow, it will ensure that their supporter’s role in building a viable alternative to the rotten political setup here is reduced to a minimum.

The political impact of armed actions

To date the combined efforts of the various IRA groupings have resulted in British/State casualties on a par only with the least successful IRA campaigns of the past. In addition the state has learned valuable lessons from those campaigns and has chosen not to give the Republican tradition anymore martyrs but instead to wear down the morale and resources of its limited support base with a conveyor belt system of questionable arrests, convictions and increasingly harsh sentencing. In this process they have been tutored well by former Militant Republicans now loyal to the state.

As unsavoury as that reality may seem, it remains a reality and one which is not likely to change should the IRA groupings remain within the tight pigeon-hole in which Britain and its Stormont subservients have clearly backed them into. Furthermore the military capability which would be required to kick hard enough in an attempt to break out of that dynamic quite simply does not exist.

The British state in Ireland has successfully gauged the extent to which the Irish public will tolerate Judicial and human rights abuses of Irish Citizens, the PSNI directed by MI5 are adhering strictly to a set policy of maximum depletion of Republican resources yet minimum comeback as in terms of any public backlash.

By and large that policy is working for them and not least because the public are being taught to focus upon failing and questionable armed actions of Republicans while ignoring the litany of crimes being committed against the Irish Working Class by both the British and 26 County states; ruthless austerity, cutbacks in health and social spending and a general downgrading of the lives of ordinary people.

Again this is a self-defeating dynamic, into which the Republican armed groupings have stepped and one which the British and 26-County states are happy to allow exist.

And within this unfavourable environment, although IRA groupings claim that their actions are disrupting normalisation, their perceived successes have become successes in their minds only, without having adequately politicised and radicalised a new generation of young people (by stressing primarily the socio-political realities of the time) they are in reality impressing only their own small base.

What is at question here is not the right to take up arms against the oppressor; the IRSP does not and never will question that right.
The only relevant question which Irish Revolutionaries should be asking themselves at this juncture is ‘what works’?

Sporadic armed actions are not working; they are placing zero pressure upon either the British/Stormont or Free State regimes nor upon the capitalist economic systems which underwrite all of those states.

In fact they are bolstering the budgets of British Military intelligence and handing a monthly propaganda victory to those who wish to make partition, capitalism, austerity and overt security measures appear to the general public as the rational state of affairs in Ireland; rational in comparison to actions which only achieve a temporary sense of personal achievement for the individuals involved and their supporters on the ground.

All criticisms which we as Irish Revolutionaries, as Republican Socialists have of the failed politics of Good Friday; its inescapable ethos of sectarianism, economic inequality and perpetual partition, wrapped up as it currently is, in the environment of savage Tory & Fine Gael cutbacks upon the livelihoods and wellbeing of our most vulnerable citizens; can, will and are being explained away by reference to the sporadic actions of the remaining IRA groupings.

As with so many times in our recent history, what is required is the building and mobilising of a fighting Labour movement with a sound position on the question of Irish National Liberation, such as that mobilised by Connolly in the years running up to 1913. Years in which a similar economic reality faced the Irish working class as does today.

There is no shortcut to building such a movement, it will not be achieved by one movement or party alone and it will have many hardships and setbacks. Yet now should be the prime time to set the foundations for such a movement, one which could truly challenge the status quo as it now exists, truly upset normalisation and awaken the true national and class spirit of the Irish people.

The politics of sporadic armed actions are an attempt to bypass the process of building such a movement; furthermore it is a failed attempt at doing so and one which holds the real potential to create setbacks for those who seek to build a truly effective class based resistance to capitalism and modern partitionist rule in Ireland.

Just as advocates of current armed actions assert that they have a right to bear arms in the name of Irish Freedom; in the spirit of comradeship we must urge them to consider what duties come with that right. Not least the duty to consider the logistical limitations which come with practicing armed struggle perpetually in a woefully unsuitable environment. And the very real costs of that decision, both to you personally and to the cause of building a capable Revolutionary momentum, which the Irish people so dearly need and deserve.

Source: IRSP NEWS

The INLA Operation To Assassinate Sectarian Serial Killer Billy Wright Inside Europe’s Most Secure Prison

Posted in Alex McGuigan, Anti-Zionism, Armed Struggle, Billy wright, fascism, INLA, Internationalism, Irish National Liberation Army, Long kesh, Sectarianism with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 12, 2013 by The Plough & The Stars

The prison bus where Billy ‘King Rat’ met his demise

The End of King Rat…

The 700 page report into the execution-style killing of Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF) death squad leader, Billy ‘King Rat’ Wright, in Long Kesh prison in December, 1997 was made public in September 2010 and categorically ruled out any state collusion in his assassination. The eagerly anticipated report was formally released after Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Owen Patterson, announced it’s finding in the House of Commons on September 14th, 2011 which despite ruling out collusion was scathing of the ‘management of the “Maze prison.”

The Billy Wright Report, costing the British taxpayer £36 million, was established at the behest of the Wright family who allege that the British government, the Northern Ireland Prison Service and the security services colluded in facilitating the murder of the Loyalist godfather. The 700 page report was understandably critical of the prison regime which allowed Billy ‘King Rat’ Wright and his fellow LVF prisoners to share the same H-Block 6 as prisoners belonging to the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA). Prior to Wright’s assassination in 1997, both INLA and LVF prisoners had been vocal in pointing out the volatility of the situation in H 6.

The Rat Trap

Wright died at the hands of what was termed an INLA active service unit (ASU) while still imprisoned inside the top security Long Kesh (aka the Maze) Prison. On the morning of the 27th of December 1997, a three man INLA ASU had armed themselves with two handguns and made their way through a pre-cut hole in the chainlink fence in one of the block’s exercise yards. From there the INLA trio scaled the roof of the one storey H-Block and dropped into the courtyard of the entrance to block where Wright had just boarded a prison bus en route to the prison visiting area.

The INLA hit-team led by Christopher ‘Crip’ McWilliams, with fellow INLA prisoners Sonny Glennon and John Kennaway in supporting roles, forced access to the prison van where they quickly shot Wright dead, then returned to their wing in H6. The entire military-style operation reportedly took less than 2 minutes, from the time the INLA unit emerged from the pre-cut exercise yard fence.

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Equipment used in the operation

Conspiracy Theory?

The main contentions of the Loyalist death-squad leader’s family are that several ‘irregularities ‘ in security procedures occurred either on the day of his murder or in the lead up to it. David Wright, the LVF leader’s father was allegedly later contacted by individual prison guards who were on duty on the day of his son’s assassination. The Maze prison guards alleged that key security watchtowers were left unattended – in direct contravention of established security procedures, but on the orders of the then ‘number one’ prison governor, the late Martin Mogg.

Wright’s father further alleges that his son, who many commentators believe was a security services protected asset, became surplus to requirements in the era of the fledgling Irish peace process. The Wright family became convinced that his son’s assassination within supposedly Europe’s most secure prison was the culmination of an unlikely chain of conspiracy, that began with his son’s transfer to the Maze prison from the nearby Maghaberry Gaol.  David Wright contends that his son’s transfer to Long Kesh was at the behest of the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) and would have required clearance at Cabinet level. Wright Senior, is critical of the decision to place Billy Wright and his fellow maverick LVF followers within the same prison H-Block as INLA inmates.

Sectarian Serial Killer

Billy ‘King Rat’ Wright was the leader of Northern Ireland’s most prolific sectarian murder gang who terrorised the mid-Ulster area with impunity for several decades of the Troubles. Wright’s ability to carry out a sectarian murder campaign, unhindered by any serious prosecution, was seen to have been clear evidence of British government collusion in state-sponsored murder.  Nationalist and even moderate Unionist politicians accepted that Billy Wright was indeed a protected species and that his seemingly charmed and largely unhindered campaign of sectarian murder was allowed to continue because it was a key element of Kitsonite military counter-insurgency strategy in the north of Ireland. Originally a regional commander of the Unionist Ulster Volunteer Force, he fell out of favour with the UVF’s Belfast leadership due to their engagement in the fledgling Irish Peace Process . Following his expulsion from the mainstream UVF and on foot of a blanket death threat from the same organisation Wright formed his own ultra-right wing paramilitary gang, the Loyalist Volunteer Force (LVF).

The DUP: Political wing of Wright’s LVF?

Billy Wright and the LVF were closely associated with Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and their ultra-right wing brand of Protestant fundamentalist politics. Wright allegedly received the backing of a number of well known D.U.P parliamentary figures, including gospel music crooner and arch-bigot, the Reverend William McCrea, Westminster MP for South Antrim. Many saw the DUP as being the de facto political wing of the LVF amidst allegations that senior DUP politicians were responsible for laundering LVF drugs money for many years. Investigative Journalist, the late Martin O’Hagan, was murdered by the LVF, reportedly just as he was about to expose the details of financial links and money laundering activities that occurred between the DUP and Wright’s pseudo-gang.

Wright was eventually jailed for a relatively minor charge and his Mid-Ulster Loyalist followers maintained that he had been taken out of circulation in the interests of the nascent Irish peace process. Although imprisoned within supposedly the most secure prison in Europe, it was widely accepted that he continued to direct the sectarian murder campaign of the LVF from his prison cell.

The Irish National Liberation Army

The INLA had objected strongly to the Maze prison authorities placing Billy Wright and the LVF prisoners within the same H-Block as a recipe for trouble, but for reasons best known to themselves these warnings were ignored by the Northern Ireland Prison Service.  In the immediate aftermath of the killing of Wright, one of the INLA unit, Christopher Crip McWilliams, when arrested by police in December 1997 stated:

“Billy Wright was executed for one reason and one reason only, and that was
for directing and waging his campaign of terror against the nationalist people from his prison cell in Long Kesh.”

The three members of the INLA active service unit including crip McWilliams and his comrades John Kennaway and Sonny Glennon subsequently faced counts of murder and possession of firearms. At their much publicised trial they offered no evidence in their defence but refused to plead guilty.  After a short hearing they were sentenced to Life imprisonment, but due to the terms of the Good Friday Agreement’s political offenders release programme, they served just over two years jail time. Since their release both Crip McWilliams and John Kennaway have since died, leaving Sonny Glennon as the sole surviving member of the INLA hit team.

The Billy Wright report and the tribunal that was commissioned due to concerns raised by David Wright, heard evidence from prison guards, prison governors, LVF members, MI5 intelligence officers, Special Branch detectives and other ‘interested’ parties. Some of the findings on the reams of evidence that emerged during the inquiry focused on how the INLA active service unit managed to smuggle the two handguns, a Makarov 38 pistol and a .22 LR  two-shot Derringer into the prison. However, the Irish Republican Socialist bureau which released a statement shortly before the Wright Inquiry findings were published have always maintained that there was no collusion at any level and that their member’s simply took advantage of circumstances as they presented themselves to their members. It is thought highly unlikely that the INLA would have colluded with the NIO or the State, Wright had been the INLA’s number one target for many years.

Billy Wrong

The findings of the 700 page report further exposed the ‘unique’ regime that existed within the now closed Long Kesh prison. Both Republican and Loyalist prisoners were largely in control of the day to day running of the gaol. Many of the main allegations of conspiracy, collusion and cover-up surrounding the murder of Billy Wright are contained in the book by Chris Anderson, entitled ‘The Billy Boy.’ Anderson maintains that from the moment Wright entered the Maze prison, he was as good as dead!  Of that much, Anderson’s hypothesis is correct.

One thing is certain, there were even fewer tears shed for Wright in 2010 than there were in 1997.  Some commentators have alleged that it was possible that the security services knew in advance, through electronic surveillance bugs in the prison, of the plans by the INLA to kill Wright but due to a change in tact of security policy, it was their view that it was politically expedient to let him die. Security figures within Long Kesh prison and MI5 spooks who gave evidence at the Wright Inquiry denied that there were covert listening devices concealed anywhere within the prison, when it was a common;y held belief among prisoners that such surveillance methods were routine.

Shadowy Kitsonian figures had created an uncontrollable Frankenstein monster in Billy Rat who was proving impossible to control in the impending era of the ‘new dispensation’ in Anglo-Irish politics. Billy Wright fatally believed his own propaganda and failed to see that he was increasingly surplus to requirements and therefore no longer had the charmed cloak of protection that had prevented previous numerous assassination attempts. Even if Wright had survived his stay in Long Kesh prison, there would have been no place in the era of the so-called new dispensation for figures like Wright. The Billy Wright Inquiry can be accessed in it’s entirety here and it’s key findings are available on-line from the 14th of September, 2010.

Sectarian serial killer Billy Wright

The Irish National Liberation Army – Formed in 1974

Miriam Daly Irish Republican Socialist Martyr

Posted in 'The Troubles, Alex McGuigan, Armed Struggle, Belfast, Class Solidarity, Collusion, Commemoration, Community, death squads, Dublin IRSP, Fallen Comrades, Feminism, History, Human Rights, Hunger Strikes, Imperialism, INLA, International socialism, Internationalism, Internment, Ireland, Irish National Liberation Army, Irish Republican Socialism, IRSCNA, IRSM, IRSP, James Connolly, Long kesh, Loyalism, Miriam Daly, Murals, Police brutality, Political prisoners, Primacy of politics, Proletariat, PSNI/RUC, Ronnie Bunting, RUC/PSNI, Seamus Costello, Sectarianism, Socialism, Solidarity, State sponsored murder, Thatcher, The founding of the IRSM with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 19, 2013 by The Plough & The Stars

Miriam Daly, an Irish Republican Socialist activist, was callously murdered in her home in Andersonstown, West Belfast, shot dead by a pro-British death-squad on the 26th June, 1980.  She was a founding member of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement a dedicated Republican activist and a highly qualified academic who at the time of her brutal murder by the armed agents of imperialism was a much respected lecturer at Queens University Belfast (QUB) Department of Economic and Social History.

Miriam’s Background

Miriam Daly grew up in Dublin in the South-East of Ireland, attended University College Dublin (UCD) as both an undergraduate then a postgraduate student and subsequently became a member of the academic staff, lecturing in Economic History. Miriam’s first husband, Dr Joseph Lee died tragically of a heart attack aged only 37, leaving Miriam a young widow. Some years later she met and eventually married Jim Daly, a fellow Republican Socialist, university lecturer and lifelong partner. By 1968 both Miriam and Jim Daly had secured lectureship posts at Queens University Belfast (QUB) just as the Civil Rights movement was gaining public momentum. Miriam Daly became active in the struggle for civil rights and as a gifted orator became a publicly prominent spokesperson. Ironically, due to the very real threat of assassination by Loyalist paramilitaries the Daly’s had to move from their home in the then largely Unionist Stranmillis area of South Belfast near QUB, to the perceived safety of Andersonstown in Republican West Belfast.

As a founding member of the Irish Republican Socialist Party Miriam Daly was elected chairperson of the IRSP following the murderous assassination of the IRSP’s co-founder,Seamus Costello. Miriam and her husband Jim were very active in the burgeoning H-Block/Armagh Committees and were tireless workers on behalf of all Irish Republican prisoners. Miriam Daly would have been particularly prominent in the H-Block campaign and would have become a household name as one of the campaign’s most articulate spokespersons and advocates on behalf of the H-Blocks’ Republican POW’s.

 The Murder of Miriam Daly

The brutal murder of Miriam Daly by a British military death-squad can not be viewed in isolation, as her particularly callous assassination was part of a very definite state-sponsored murder campaign targeting Irish Republican Socialist Party members and H-Blocks campaigners. Articulate IRSP leaders and/or Republican prisoners’ campaigners such as Miriam Dally, Ronnie Bunting, Noel Lyttle and John Turnley were all brutally murdered within a short period of time. IRSP co-founder and H-Block campaigner, Bernadette Devlin-McAliskey and her husband were also critically wounded by a pro-British death-squad. Countless other activists were targeted in concerted attempts to silence the most able advocates of Irish freedom.

The British death-squad gunmen who callously murdered Miriam Daly bound the mother of 3 and then waited at her home in Andersonstown hoping to also murder her husband Jim who they were expecting to return from work. However, on that tragic day, June 26th 1980, Jim was in Dublin attending a German language course and it is assumed that when the British death-squad realised that he would not be returning they shot Miriam dead before making good their escape. The Daly children discovered their murdered mother when they returned from school and it can only be imagined how traumatic and heartbreaking an experience that was for the young Dalys.

Just as with the murders of Miriam Daly’s comrades Ronnie Bunting and Noel Lyttle, the death-squad’s modus operandi was that of a British military undercover gangs. They murdered M/s Daly in the heart of Belfast’s largest Republican area, Andersonstown and even waited for some time in the Daly home hoping to murder her husband, Jim. The British death-squad carried out their foul deed in the safe knowledge that, at the very least, the uniformed British military who would normally have been very much in evidence in West Belfast were giving them safe passage both in and out of the area.

Jim Daly, Miriam’s grieving husband, was certain of collusion and the hidden hand of British military involvement in her murder. Jim said of his beloved wife and comrade:

“She came very much to the notice of agencies that were poking their noses in here, for sure. That’s why she was targeted. She had a tremendous energy and never stopped. People called her in the middle of the night to come to an RUC station to help out, while relatives would phone her to find out where their loved ones were. She never stopped. It was amazing how much dedication she had. She was always upbeat and confident and optimistic. If there is an opposite to demoralise, she moralised people.”

As her funeral cortege passed her home in Andersonstown four members of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) fired a volley of shots in tribute to Miriam Daly, the Irish Republican Socialist Party activist, the Irish National Liberation Army guerrilla, the H-Block activist, the university lecturer, the wife and the mother!

Miriam Daly is buried in Swords, County Dublin. Irish Republican Socialist martyrs like Miriam Daly who made the ultimate sacrifice will always be remembered and commemorated by her comrades. Miriam Daly’s image appears on IRSM commemorative plaques, murals and her name is inscribed on the Irish Republican Socialist Movement (IRSM) memorial stone in Milltown cemetery, Belfast. One of West Belfast’s best known and most striking wall murals on Oakman Street in the Beechmount area commemorates Miriam Daly and was actually painted by her son, Donal, along with others.

Many people who often pass the striking mural dedicated to Miriam Daly, the author included, will think of one of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement’s most outstanding comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice in the struggle for national liberation and socialism. It should be remembered that Miriam Daly had a successful career as a university lecturer and she could quite understandably have chosen to immerse herself solely in the infinitely safer world of academia but instead Miriam chose to fight for human rights and the Irish Socialist Republic envisaged by James Connolly. Being a Republican Socialist activist in those intense and dangerous days was not an easy path to choose as the full weight of the murderous British military industrial complex was ranged against those who dared oppose imperialism. Miriam Daly was one of those courageous Republican Socialists who defied Britannia’s iron grip on Ireland and she sadly and tragically paid for her brave resistance with her life. Today’s Republican Socialist activists are determined that Miriam Daly’s sacrifice will not be erased by the historical revisionism, currently being pushed by imperialism’s lackeys and it’s fellow travellers. The Miriam Daly mural prophetically bears the inscription:

“History is written by the winner.”

Miriam Daly’s widowed husband Jim Daly elucidated further on the well known quote at a commemoration remembering the 25th anniversary of Miriam Daly’s murder:

“This year, on the 25th anniversary of Miriam’s death I feel there is at least one thing I can do, and that is to restate an important message she never tired of repeating. It was: to beware of and shun so-called “conflict resolution” the alleged academic discipline which is in fact an imperialist confidence trick.” 

Miriam Daly the INLA Volunteer, the political activist, the esteemed academic, the loving wife and mother who was gunned down by the forces of British imperialism will never be forgotten by her comrades in the Irish Republican Socialist Movement and even in death remains an exemplary model for today’s young activists who follow bravely in her footsteps!

miriam daly

 

Alex McGuigan

The Starry Plough Flag And Irish Republican Socialism

Posted in 'The Troubles, activism, Alex McGuigan, Armed Struggle, Belfast, Class Solidarity, Commemoration, Dublin IRSP, Easter Commemoration, Flags, History, Hunger Strikes, INLA, International socialism, International Womens' Day, Ireland, Irish Citizen Army, Irish National Liberation Army, Irish Republican Socialism, IRSM, IRSP, James Connolly, Jim Larkin, Joe Craven, Kevin Lynch, May Day, Memorabilia, Mickey Devine, Other Republican groups, PFLP/IRSP Solidarity, Political prisoners, Solidarity, The Starry Plough Flag, Trade Unions with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 7, 2013 by The Plough & The Stars

 

James Connolly

No symbol is as closely associated with the IRSP and the Irish Republican Socialist Movement as the Starry Plough flag. The modern day Starry Plough flag has seven white, 5 pointed stars, in the shape of the Ursa Major constellation (also known as the Plough of the Heavens or The Great Bear) on a blue background. The Starry Plough flag has been intrinsically linked to Irish Republican Socialism for close to a century, since it’s first use, in April 1914, by James Connolly’s small but famously courageous Irish Citizen Army (ICA). The ICA were a worker’s militia, created to protect Trades Union members and James Connolly’s Irish Socialist Republican Party.

The ICA proudly carried the Starry Plough as they marched through Dublin on the first day of the 1916 Easter Rising. With no short measure of poetic justice, during the Easter Rising, the standard of Republican Socialism flew over commandeered premises belonging to the infamous Capitalist villain, William Martin Murphy. Murphy was the Dublin workers’ class enemy number one, a notorious strike-breaker and chief Gombeen of the Dublin Lock-out of 1913-14!

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ICA Plough & Stars flag

The Starry Plough Flag And The 1981 Hunger Strike

The Starry Plough flag in it’s original and modern form has been used by various Republican, Trades Union and Socialist organisations throughout the years and has been carried at parades, marches and demonstrations. However, it was during the tragic Hunger Strikes of 1981, when ten IRA and INLA prisoners gave their lives for the right to be treated as political prisoners, that the Starry Plough flag became very publicly and indelibly linked to the Irish Republican Socialist Movement in the eyes of the world.

During the Hungers Strikes of 1981, the Republican funerals of the Hunger Strikers were beamed to television screens in living-rooms all over the world by the assembled global media. Almost a third of the Hunger Strikers, who bravely gave their lives, were members of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement’s military wing, the INLA. The three Irish National Liberation Army Hunger Strikers, Volunteers Patsy O’Hara, Kevin Lynch and Michael Devine, were all rightfully accorded full Republican Socialist military funerals, even under the most difficult of conditions.

The coffins of the three INLA Hunger Striker’s had both the Starry Plough flag and the National flag draped on them. Arguably, it was from these images, which were broadcast all over the world, that the Starry Plough flag became the publicly perceived flag of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement. Anyone watching the INLA Hunger Striker’s funerals, who saw the prominence given to the Starry Plough during the H-block martyrs requiem ceremonies, would have made the connection in the symbiotic symbolism of National Liberation and Socialism, being of equal importance to the Republican Socialist Movement.

gay plough

 A Brief History of The Starry Plough Flag

The original Starry Plough flag was first adopted by James Connolly’s Irish Citizen Army in April,1914. The original design had the symbol of a gold ploughshare, with a sword as it’s cutting edge, with the seven stars of the Ursa Major constellation superimposed upon it, with a green background. This flag is also carried by the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, although the various factions of the Official IRA used it quite prominently as a de facto logo, in the not so distant past. The original Starry Plough was designed as the military ‘colours’ or ‘standard’ of the Irish Citizen Army and this explains it’s slightly oversized appearance when reproduced on conventional flags’ dimensions.  In recent times the Provisional Sinn Fein splinter group Eirigi have to a certain extent re-claimed the ICA version of the Starry Plough flag.

The modern day Starry Plough design, with it’s striking seven white stars, on a blue background, made it’s first appearance during the 1930’s as the emblem of the Republican Congress. The Republican Congress of the 1930s was a Left-wing Republican political construct, created by Peader O’Donell and others in the hope of placing Irish Republicanism on a more overtly Leftist trajectory. Since then, the modern day Starry Plough has been intrinsically and rightly linked to Irish Republican Socialism.

Derry IRSP have an excellent, more in depth history of the Starry Plough flag published online which can be accessed: Here

starryplough

 The Starry Plough And Irish Republican Socialism

Various Irish Trades Unions have adopted both versions of the Starry Plough or incorporated them into their emblems over the years. The Irish Labour Party at one stage used it as their party logo, on a red background but have since ditched it, along with any pretence at being remotely a Socialist party (and are currently paddling in the murky waters of coalition government with Fine Gael, a party who spawned Ireland’s only Fascist movement, the Blueshirts!)

The Communist Party of Ireland’s youth wing, the Connolly Youth Movement, have used the Starry Plough in their banners. One of the most iconic images from the early ‘Troubles’, showed militant Belfast Official IRA leader, Joe McCann, armed with an M1 Carbine, with the Starry Plough flag flying beside him, at the battle of Inglis’ Bakery, in the Markets area of Belfast. (It has been convincingly argued that had Joe McCann lived, given his adherence to militant Republican Socialism, he would have been one of the Official Republicans who would have joined Costello’s Irish Republican Socialist Movement)

The Workers Party use the early Starry Plough design (which is also known as the Plough and Stars) in their party logo and for some time that version of the flag was closely associated with the Stickies. However, over this past two decades, the original Starry Plough flag has been carried by the Irish Republican Socialist Movement during demonstrations and in Colour Parties, along with the modern, Republican Congress version of the flag – the instantly recognisable 7 stars on blue background.

All contemporary Irish Republican organisations, including Provisional Sinn Fein, Republican Sinn Fein, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and others carry the Starry Plough flag during parades, although it is more for traditional symbolic purposes, than any real political commitment to Connolly’s Marxism. Incredibly, during a Free State army commemoration of the 1916 Easter Rising, one of their colour parties, uber inappropriately, carried the original Starry Plough standard of Connolly’s Marxist militia, the Irish Citizen Army! One may very well ask what connection the Free State armed forces could ever claim to have to the Revolutionary Socialist flag of a worker’s militia, the ICA?

red plough 01

The IRSP and the Starry Plough

The IRSP use both versions of the Starry Plough on party logos and sometimes it appears on a red background, for party flags or banners. During funerals for Irish Republican Socialist Movement veterans, the Starry Plough is usually the only flag draped on the coffin, which differs slightly from the era of the Hunger Strikes, when the Irish Tricolour usually accompanied the plough on the coffins of IRSM martyrs. In some funerals of Republican Socialist veterans, such as the funeral of Johnny White in Derry, the Starry Plough and the plain Red Flag of International Socialism, shared equal prominence on the coffin during these sad occasions. During the funeral in Derry in April 2012, of INLA veteran, Seamus ‘Chang’ Coyle, a striking Starry Plough with 7 stars on a red background adorned his coffin on it’s journey to the City Cemetery.

changA

In conclusion, the Starry Plough has been, and will continue to be, the flag most closely associated with the Irish Republican Socialist Movement. The Irish Republican Socialist Party can carry the Starry Plough safe in the knowledge that they are the direct heirs of Ireland’s first Marxist revolutionary, James Connolly. The IRSP endeavour to build the basis of Connolly’s vision of a re-united, 32 County Socialist Republic and they seek to make the Starry Plough the flag proudly shouldered by all Irish workers, irrespective of religious denomination, in the struggle for economic liberty as well as national liberation.  James Connolly’s words written over a century ago aptly differentiate Irish Republican Socialism from the various one dimensional nationalist groupings who insist on the stages credo that ‘labour must wait’

“Ireland, as distinct from her people, is nothing to me; and the man who is bubbling over with love and enthusiasm for ‘Ireland,’ and can yet pass unmoved through our streets and witness all the wrong and the suffering, the shame and the degradation wrought upon the people of Ireland – yea, wrought by Irishmen upon Irish men and women, without burning to end it, is, in my opinion, a fraud and a liar in his heart, no matter how he loves that combination of chemical elements he is pleased to call Ireland!”

(James Connolly: The New Evangel Preached To Irish Toilers 1901)

 irsm plot

Alex McGuigan, Belfast

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