Archive for the Ta Power Category

Notes on Ta Power

Posted in Alex McGuigan, Ta Power, Ta Power Document with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2014 by The Plough & The Stars



Firstly to explain how the Ta Power document came about, we need to outline a little about Thomas ‘Ta’ Power’s background and his political journey.  At the age of 33, he was assassinated by the IPLO along with John O’Reilly, at the Rossnaree Hotel outside Drogheda. Ironically, he and O’Reilly had gone to the hotel to reach an agreement with the IPLO.   Hailing from from Friendly Street in the Markets area of south Belfast, Ta Power had originally been in the Official IRA but joined the INLA in 1975 while a prisoner in the Cages of  Long Kesh.  Noted for having later spent the longest time on remand (4 years and 4 months) on the word of ‘Supergrass’ Harry Kirkpatrick, he was also held on the evidence of five different Supergrasses, and had just been released from Crumlin Road prison a short time before he was killed.Thomas Power was widely regarded as a theorist and thinker within republican circles and was highly respected within his community and among Republicans belonging to different movements.

The Ta Power document is part history and part analysis on the Republican Socialist Movement.  He also pulls few punches in his analysis and it can be argued he was so bruntly fearless in his critique that he wanted to radicalise the movement into multi-faceted revolutionary political action.

Part one of the document is a broad history of the IRSM, which was formed out of the Official Republican movement in 1974.  In 1969, Power argued that Costello saw the Officials at the time of the ‘split’ as possessing ‘the best possible conditions existing for the development of a revolution movement.” However after the state-sanctioned killing of the militant, Joe McCann, a respected OIRA Volunteer, in 1972 and the ceasefire which followed, Costello stated that should have left the Official Republican movement there and then, instead of trying to work inside the officials and try and change them.  Power believed correctly that Costello hated splits. Costello believed that they led to demoralisation, acrimony and possible feuds. This was not only prophetic in Costello’s analysis but also in Power’s!  Both assassinations, following their respective parting of the ways from former comrades were much to the severe determent of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement.  Seamus Costello formed the IRSP and the INLA at a conference at the Spa Hotel, Lucan in 1974.  Power then points out his analysis as to the difference between the various Republican movements of the time, which are reproduced here:

  • The OFFICIAL’S approach to the national question was basically that it couldn’t be resolved until the Protestant and the Catholic working class “united”, that the six counties could be democratised, that a bill of rights was needed etc.  This position ruled out the national liberation struggle, it ignored the fundamentally sectarian nature of the six county state-let and how the Brits through this maintained their rule and influence over the entire country.
  • PROVISIONALS: At this time they still had a one-sided concentration on the national question, they were still controlled by the old traditional leadership which advocated a “federal solution” which Adams was later to refer to as “a sop to Loyalists.” They concentrated on the military effort to the exclusion of revolutionary socialist politics throughout Ireland. They maintained their abstention position. Costello criticised the Provisional’s for their “elitist and conspiratorial approach” which was no substitute for the development of a peoples struggle.
  • Irish Republican Socialist Party:  Most of the following are the direct words of Seamus Costello, upon outlining the programme of the IRSP, (a) ”we must make no secret of the fact that we are a revolutionary socialist party, prepared to give leadership on the streets as well as in the elected chambers, and that we are out for a socialist republic.”  (b) “Part of that struggle for a Socialist Republic entails resolving the national liberation struggle and ending British imperialist intervention. We stand for the unity of the anti-imperialist struggle and class struggle.”   (c) “What are the vital social issues of the day? Along with the national question there exist many strands to the anti-imperialist struggle. To hold the national question above all others is to isolate oneself from the people and result in inevitable defeat. We must involve ourselves and the masses in issues, which affect them: political agitation, propaganda etc should not be confined to the six counties.”

Costello On Abstentionism 

  • There is no parliamentary road to socialism, but elected members should use such chambers as a platform for the pursuit of our policies and for achieving publicity for them, but members elected to parliament etc would have to be active in politics outside parliament, i.e. extra parliamentary and agitationary politics on the streets.
  • We see both parliamentary institutions in Ireland as institutions that have to be abolished if we are to make progress towards establishing a socialist republic.
  • When we say we are not an abstention party, we mean we are not a party, in principle, committed to abstention. But there are circumstances and conditions under which it might be desirable at any particular point in time to abstain from parliament, and if we felt it was tactically desirable then we would do so.

Ultimate Goals

  • To end imperialist rule in Ireland and establish a 32 County Democratic Socialist Republic with the working class in control of the means of production, distribution and exchange.


  • The Broad Front: This advocates the maximum degree of Anti-imperialist unity. We recognise the absolute necessity of securing a constitutional solution to the present crisis, which will allow the Irish working class the freedom to pursue their interests as a class in the context of the development of normal class polities.  In our view, the first step in securing a constitutional solution, which meets this requirement, must be for Britain to concede the right of the Irish people to exercise total sovereignty over their own affairs. This objective can only be achieved through the creation of a united struggle on the part of all Anti-imperialist Organisations. We would therefore support the formation of an Irish anti-imperialist front composed of delegates from affiliated organisations who support the agreed political programme of the front.  The primary objective of the front would be to mobilise the maximum degree of support for its declared objectives throughout Ireland. The front should clearly be seen as the LEADERSHIP OF A MASS MOVEMENT against all forms of imperialist control and interference in Ireland.

The Broad front should have sufficient support and assistance from its affiliated organisations to enable it to open a head office with a full time staff. We propose the following political demands as the basis on which an Irish anti-imperialist front should organise:

  1. That Britain must renounce all claims to sovereignty over any part of Ireland or its coastal waters.
  2. That Britain must immediately disband and disarm the UDR, RUC and RUC Reserve and withdraw all troops from Ireland.
  3. That the British and 26 County Governments must immediately release all political prisoners and grant a general amnesty for all offences arising from the current conflict.
  4. That Britain must agree to compensate all that have suffered as a result of imperialist violence and exploitation in Ireland.
  5. Recognising that no country can be free and independent while it permits imperialist domination of its economic life, the anti-imperialist front, will oppose all forms of imperialist control over wealth and resources.
  6. The front rejects a federal solution and the continued existence of two separates in the 6 and 26 counties as a denial of the right of the Irish people to sovereignty and recognises that the only alternative as being the creation of a 32 democratic republic with a secular constitution.
  7. That the front demands the convening of an all Ireland constitutional conference representative of all shades of political opinion in Ireland for the purpose of discussing a democratic and secular constitution would become effective immediately following a total British military and political withdrawal from Ireland.

These were the primary differences between the IRSP, Officials, and the Provisional’s when Seamus Costello launched the party in December 1974.
Ta Power finished Part one on the death and subsequent loss to the IRSM of Seamus Costello. Here he quotes people who knew Costello and the various political roles Costello had been involved in at the time of his death. This demonstrates the severe blow his death was to the movement. This came basically as the movement was gathering pace.

  • “Seamus was the greatest follower of my father’s teachings in this generation and I hope that his example shall be followed and that his vision for Ireland will be realised in this generation” — Nora Connolly O’Brien.
  • “Seamus was the most sincere man I ever had the pleasure to know” — Father Piaras O Duill.
  • “Without a doubt he was the greatest threat to the capitalist establishment since James Connolly” — Sean Doyle.
  • “Seamus spoke for the IRSP and give a scintillating display of good humour, history, politics and hard facts. No one who listened to his three hours in the afternoon, and by unanimous demand, two hours repeat in the evening, now doubts that they will either have to shoot him or jail him or get out of his way, but they certainly won’t stop him! Costello, the revolutionary, Marxist socialist whose ambition is a secular, pluralist united socialist republic won’t go away until he gets it” — Dr Noel Browne.

From 1964 – 1974, Seamus Costello  held the positions of Adjutant General, Chief of staff and director of operations in the Official IRA and the positions of vice president of Official Sinn Fein.
From 1974 to his death on the 5th of October 1977 he held the position of Chief of staff and director of operations in INLA.
At the time of his assassination he was a member of the following bodies: Wicklow County Council, Co Wicklow Committee of Agriculture, General Council of Committees of Agriculture, Eastern Regional Development Committee, Bray Urban District Council, Bray branch of ITGWU, Bray and District Trade Union Council, of which he was president between 1976-1977, the Historical Society, and chairman of the IRSP.

Ta Power: Marxist Revolutionary

Ta Power was a committed Marxist. He quotes Costello on a number of occasions and points out that his phrase, “I owe my allegiance to the working class” as an example for all comrades to emulate. He also points out that “we must also present our vision of what revolutionary socialist state means. When we say our programme that we want to establish a 32 county socialist state with the working class in control of the means of production, distribution and exchange we must be able to decipher it for the working class to understand what it means.” That is paramount comrades, which basic economic ideology has to be understood by all comrades.Ta Power embraces the notion of a broad front, but it must be lead by the working class.

Analysis of Part Two of The Ta Power Document

In part two, Ta Power discusses, using both historical analysis of the years 1974-1981, in various parts and it’s relevance of the movement. He uses a number of contradictions,  most prominent of which is the problems associated with a party/army movement and the predominance of group ‘B’ over group ‘A’. This is a prolonged debate, in which he is fearlessly open and somewhat scathing of the culture then prevalent within the movement. It is deeply argued that his analysis is spot on here
He states that group ‘A’ by its very nature is “democratic, open structures, working openly, have its own priorities, tasks etc” where as group ‘B’ suffers from, “undemocratic, closed structures, working secretly, have its own priorities, tasks, etc.”  Ta Power is particularly scathing when the dominance of group ‘B’ is over group ‘A.’  He goes into detail of the various outcomes that can arise. Ta is scathing of the macho image of group ‘B’ in particularly in the periods of 1979-1981 and again from 1982-87.

He also states that every time there was an attempt to shift power from ‘B’ to ‘A’, this has led to failure. Perhaps he is being prophetic here, indeed it was a result of a split and power struggle within the movement that led him to being assassinated fighting the very problems he tried to overcome. Indeed again in 1996 another acrimonious split led to the death of Gino Gallagher who was also attempting to implement Ta Power’s recommendations.
Ta Power argues that a common bond should exist. He also rightly argues that that 1981 Hunger Strike was about brave Volunteers dying so that political recognition of our prisoners was restored and that it would thwart any attempt to criminalise our struggle.
“Our movement played a full and committed role in the history of this period – on the streets, the IRSP mobilised in support of the prisoners, and in the prisons our members stood steadfast and firm. Three of our movement’s finest volunteers, Pasty O Hara, Kevin Lynch and Mickey Devine lost their lives on hunger strike.”
Ta then questions why after the Hunger Strike, why the movement didn’t reach its full potential. To this he noted two short words: INTERNAL TURMOIL
He looks at the B/A relationship and decided that the wrong people took control, were in power and there was a predominance of B over A. Ta argued for proper structure and placed a ten point strategy which he argues is extremely important for the movement to implement. The ten point structure is as follows:
1: Politics in command
2: Internal democracy
3: Absolute legitimacy
4: Collective Leadership
5: Central authority
6: Coherency
7: Accountability
8: Discipline
9: Efficiency
10: Effectiveness
Ta Power argues that there has to be coherence and discipline for the 10 point structure to work, any failures will result in each aspect being affected. Furthermore Ta continues to argue that our politics should be in control, the main concern, not the army. Ta argues that Costello wanted to grow the Party, but others deemed resources be ploughed into the army. Ta cites that as the first contradiction. This led to “loss of coherency and the formation of “power blocks” and factions, loss of politics, the political ideals which make us, as a movement are not being addressed.
Power states in his second contradictions that the party is entrusted with “building a revolutionary class conscious party with a revolutionary programme for development. However, in order for this to be achieved, finances, resources time and above all revolutionary mature leadership (The AC) which understood the importance of such, a party was required.
Ta Power goes on and states that the army stifled political development of the Party and firmly believes that without the proper political vehicle no revolution can be won.

The Third contradiction is that between 1974-1977, there was no collective leadership, Power Blocks, Macho man image, all of which points to early predominance of B over A, particularly within the Belfast leadership. Politically astute leadership is required, class consciousness and education within the movement is paramount. If division and power blocks continue that can (and did) lead to disaster, it was a prophetic for Ta Power.
It is argued that Ta Power wanted an armed struggle with soldiers who were politically aware and conscious and politicians who understood the need for armed conflict against the imperialists and capitalists. “Every Solider a politician, every politician a soldier.”
In conclusion, at every stage of the history of the IRSM, Ta argued that COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP is extremely important. In all areas of the movement it has to be a democratic collective leadership has to initiate work and consciousness amongst the membership. To conclude, Ta Advocated
(1) Politics in command: A over B
(2) Principle of Collective Leadership (no one man shows)
(3) Stability (ending of factions)
This will then lead to a structure that will see the ten point theory being implemented.
How does that relate to recent developments? Well firstly, recently the movement has decided to involve itself in purely political action. The dominance is now in the court of A so to speak. The movement is still some way away from achieving the ten point structure but the right direction is being pursued.

Would Ta have welcomed the 2009 decision for group ‘B’ to leave centre stage, given the very different political climate of contemporary times?  This is hard to analyse or answer, as Ta Power is sadly not around to offer his advice and consultation.  Ta Power was no pacifist but as a revolutionary he would no doubt have been  adaptable to contemporary conditions for modes of struggle.  It could be argued that the revolutionary political road that the IRSM is currently travelling is in keeping with Ta Power’s credo of ‘politics in command’ with ‘every soldier a politician and every politician a soldier’ that he stridently advocated is closer than ever to being realised. Ta Power would certainly have advocated and supported the revolutionary education of party members and the continued fight on behalf of the working class.. He was a proud and brave INLA Volunteer, a great theoretician and political thinker. It would be a fitting tribute to him if we implement his ideals as best as we can.

To quote Ta Power, at the conclusion of his essay written 27 years ago:

“If we have achieved even part of that success, then the effort has been worthwhile.”


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)


The Ta Power Document Examined by Alex McGuigan

Posted in Polarisation of the classes, Primacy of politics, Ta Power, Ta Power Document on October 19, 2013 by The Plough & The Stars

Thomas ‘Ta’ Power

This article is a brief analysis of the Introduction section and Part One of Ta Power’s dissertation on the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, which is now widely known as the Ta Power Document. It is hoped that this article will be of help when discussing Ta Power’s critique of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement (IRSM.)

What Is The Ta Power Document?

We hear a lot about the Ta Power Document but what exactly does it contain? Certainly, one could probably read Ta Power’s critique in an afternoon, but arguably the best way to appreciate fully what is contained in his critique, is to take the time to read it as one would approach a serious study. This is because there is so much data compounded into those pages, that a quick reading will not do justice to Ta Power’s project, which was so comprehensively written under the most difficult of conditions, partly in a cramped prison cell.

It is also helpful to acquaint oneself with the life of Thomas Ta Power as the INLA guerrilla and the Revolutionary Socialist theorist. Ta Power’s life was very closely associated with the earlier years of the nascent Irish Republican Socialist Movement. Contained within the pages of the Ta Power Document is the genuine, early history of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, written by an INLA Guerrilla who knew only too well, that as a committed revolutionary, he was simply, as he fearlessly stated, a dead man on leave!

James Connolly, Ireland’s first Marxist Revolutionary, wrote 89 years before Ta Power’s assassination that:

“Apostles of Freedom are ever idolised when dead, but crucified when alive.”

They were prophetic words both for Connolly, Ta Power and all those who have sought to bring revolutionary change to Ireland, defy Imperialism and fight for a Socialist Republic.

Who Was Ta Power?

Thomas ‘Ta’ Power was an INLA guerrilla fighter and an Irish Republican Socialist Party activist from the Market area of Belfast, whose revolutionary military actions were backed up with an insightful analysis of the age old struggle for National Liberation and Socialism in Ireland. The Republic that Ta Power believed was worth fighting for was one that guaranteed economic liberty for the Irish working-class, not just an exchange of one ruling class for the homegrown Gombeen variety, which successive one-dimensional Nationalists have repeatedly eventually settled for throughout Irish history. Ta Power believed in the Workers Republic of Marxist revolutionary James Connolly, who rejected traditional Nationalism espoused by the likes of Sinn Fein, just as vehemently as he opposed British Imperialism.

Ta Power’s Legacy To Contemporary IRSM members

Ta Power’s legacy to contemporary Republican Socialism was his insightful analysis of how the Irish Republican Socialist Movement needs to be structured along democratic centralist lines, to become the effective vanguard for a Socialist Republic. The Ta Power Essay could arguably be described as being as important to Irish Republican Socialism, as VI Lenin’s ‘What is to be Done’ was to the Bolsheviks at the beginning of the 20th century.

Contemporary comrades of Ta Power will have their own personal and revolutionary memories of one of Irelands most outstanding Republican Socialists, who by all accounts was very much cut from the same cloth as the late Seamus Costello. It is glaringly apparent that British imperialism and their lackeys in the Gombeen Free State feared Ta Power’s Republican Socialist ideology and that they viewed him personally as a dangerous revolutionary foe. The Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) held him in de facto internment without trial in prison for nearly 5 years, on the word of 5 separate bribed ‘supergrass’ paid perjurers!  When Ta Power was assassinated in January, 1987, along with his comrade, John O’Reilly, at the Rosnaree Hotel, by members of the counter-revolutionary IPLO, we can be sure that Imperialism uttered a sigh of relief.

Before his tragic assassination at the young age of 33, Ta Power spent part of his lengthy time in prison, held without trial, conducting a root and branch analysis of the revolutionary forces involved in the struggle for National Liberation and Socialism in Ireland and the IRSM in particular. Ta Power recognised the leading role of Republican Socialism’s most outstanding advocate, Seamus Costello and the nearly ‘incalculable loss‘ the movement faced by his assassination at the hands of an Official IRA gangster. Power pulls no punches in his critique of the IRSM’s varied fortunes but his analysis points out that at the heart of any excesses and contradictions in the movement were structural defects, which made those mistakes not only possible but inevitable..

Ta Power’s historical analysis of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement

Power begins by plotting the course of the Republican Movement pre-1969 split and again pre-1974:

“the Republican Movement at that time, as indeed throughout its history was a monolithic movement, ideologically united and disciplined in its strategy and tactics.”

He rightfully asserts that even at that time, within the monolithic pre-1969 Republican Movement, a distinct reformist tendency was gaining in strength, in tandem with the more traditionalist Republican strand and an overtly more Socialistic strand. A smaller, more radical trend, centred round Seamus Costello, sought to marry the need for both National Liberation and Socialism, correctly treating them as intrinsically linked. The Official IRA leadership was at variance with the more militant grassroots and Ta Power cites the friction between the militant Belfast OIRA leader, Joe McCann and the reformist Official IRA leadership. Costello was of the same militant ilk as McCann and similarly was victimised by the Official’s leadership, culminating in his eventual expulsion at the 1974 Official Sinn fein Ard Fheis. Ta Power correctly states that:

“the dismissal of Costello formalised what was already a fact…’the parting of the ways’ of a revolutionary & reformist strategy on the National question!”

The Birth of the IRSM

In the gaols and all over Ireland, the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) grew out of the militant grassroots, disaffected membership of the Official Republican Movement. In Belfast the Officials’ leadership ordered immediate armed pogroms against the fledgling IRSP, which initially left 3 dead and many more wounded. When counter-revolutionary attacks on the fledgling IRSP, ordered by the Official IRA leadership were concerned, Ta Power points out ironically that:

“the arms the officials had starved and denied their own membership to confront Imperialism had been delivered in plenty!”

Power was just as scathing of the Provisionals, as he was of the Officials’ leadership in his critique. While he viewed the reformism of the Stickies, as ignoring the proverbial elephant in the living-room of partition, he viewed the Provisionals as being hopelessly elitist. Ta Power correctly saw the Irish Republican Socialist Movement as the only vehicle to:

“stand for the unity of the anti-imperialist struggle & the class struggle.” (4)

The IRSP and the Broad Front?

He saw that a movement which placed genuine equal emphasis on the struggle for both Socialism and National Liberation, was ultimately capable of leading an anti-Imperialist Broad Front, while the IRSP retained the clear understanding that there could be no reformist ‘parliamentary road to socialism‘. However, their political agitation was not to be restricted by any elitist, traditional republican principle of ‘abstentionism’ (although in some circumstances that would be acceptable as a tactic.) The anti-Imperialist Broad Front would adhere to core progressive Republican Socialist principles.

Ta Power rounds off his recounting of the complicated birth of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, by recalling that by mid-1975, the worst of the Official IRA attacks had ended and by later in the year the IRSP had a politically healthy membership of 800 activists in Ireland. The party had a quarterly internal theoretical bulletin, plus the monthly newspaper The Starry Plough.

Basically by this stage, Ta Power states that, the IRSM had survived the counter-revolutionary Official IRA attempts to strangle it at birth and Republican Socialism was on the road to party political stability, progress and growth.

The IRSM and concerted state repression

Ta Power continues with his historical analysis of the IRSM by stating that after a brief period on the road to party political stability, following the early attacks on the fledgling movement, the party had a healthy active membership. The southern Free State government then set out to systematically smash the Republican Socialist Movement. By April 1976, after the Sallins Train Robbery, the Gardai’s Heavy Gang conducted systematic repression and brutality on IRSP members, culminating in the framing of 6 party members, including Nicky Kelly, for the mail train robbery. Amnesty International were partly responsible for exposing the brutality of the Garda Heavy Gangs habitual tactics of torture and perverting the course of justice, to frame those they perceived to be ‘Enemies of the State’.

In the north of Ireland, the IRSM were involved in all facets of the anti-Imperialist struggle which included armed guerrilla actions against the British occupational forces. The IRSM also took a leading role in the nascent agitation on the streets against the criminalisation of Republican POW’s both inside and outside the gaols, which included the earlier INLA successful mass escape from Cage 5 in Long Kesh concentration camp on the 5th May, 1976.

The impact of Costello’s assassination

Ta Power stressed the massive blow to the Republican Socialist Movement caused by the assassination of Seamus Costello in 1977:

“the sheer stature of the revolutionary Seamus Costello is too great for what can be expressed in feeble words, yet words are the only (way) to express and convey this stature albeit in a feeble way” (5)

He goes on to list many of the testimonials to Seamus Costello’s outstanding Revolutionary character from the likes of Nora Connolly O’Brien (James Connolly’s daughter), Fr Piaras O’Duill, Sean Doyle and Dr Noel Browne. He recounts the lengthy list of elected and appointed positions held by the  Indefatigable Seamus Costello from 1964 until his tragic murder in October 1977 in Dublin’s North Strand as he sat unarmed in his car by a Sticky hitman, allegedly the ‘bagman’ Jim Flynn.

The Struggle in the H-Blocks

Ta Power admits that the IRSM were the main beneficiaries of disillusionment within the Official IRA in Long Kesh, in the early 1970’s, which produced a ready made reservoir of recruits, but at the time it was in a volatile state. At first the gaol authorities did not grant recognition to the IRSP prisoners, but after the correct pressure was applied, they did give in.

Shortly after this, the infant IRSP had the morale boost of 5 prisoners escaping from Newry courthouse and then the first ever mass escape from Long Kesh by 9 INLA prisoners from via a tunnel in May, 1976. However, by this stage political status was being phased out by the British as part of their ‘Ulsterisation‘ aka “Normalisation” counter-revolutionary strategy. The H-Blocks of Long Kesh concentration camp then became the main focus of the anti-Imperialist struggle for the Republican Socialist Movement and indeed the entire Irish Republican community:

“suddenly, captured republicans were thrown back to an active role & again to the forefront of the struggle. Their courage, resolve & mettle would be tested to the full. The tremendous responsibility, which was imposed on them, was a heavy burden to carry but carry it they did!”

As well as invigorating the Republican Socialist Movement, the campaign for political status was a double edged sword:

“with the end of [political] status came the end of segregation. The effects of this on our movement was more profound than are sometimes realised. Because of our numerical weakness we were always a minority within the broad republican family & this created further problems for us. The IRA always set the tempo & pace but we always retained our seperate organisational structures, independence & identity .” (7)

What is to be done?

From page 14 Ta Power begins his ‘What is to be done‘ and quotes 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.”

Ta Power’s sentiments in this part of his critique echo those of Seamus Costello, in that he advises a multi-faceted Revolutionary Socialist approach. For instance, agitation both on the streets and in elected bodies, bluntly emphasising that there can be:

“no easy way to the Socialist Republic, no shortcuts!”

Power bluntly states that neither can the IRSM fool the Irish working class, as they know only too well ‘who the phoneys‘ are.  Power prophetically states that:

“we must be vigilant that we dont 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” (10)

Power states that an important facet of Irish Republican Socialism is that it should be able to describe it’s vision for a Democratic Irish Socialist Republic, not just limit their vision to the transitional stages and the process to achieve it. He again echoes James Connolly, in his belief that it is only by the actions of the Irish working class that the age old project of Ireland’s liberation from British imperialism can be achieved. Bourgeois parties will always compromise with Imperialism, which VI Lenin accurately described as the most advanced stage of Capitalism.

Ta Power writes that the might of the pro-Imperialist forces can only being defeatable by a Broad Front of progressive anti-Imperialist forces. Power advocated the convening of a conference of anti-Imperialist parties. This is very relevant in today’s context where Irish republicanism is very much splintered, despite various half-hearted calls for Republican Unity. He criticizes Stalinist Stage-ism, as adhered to by the likes of the Officials, as a deflection from the National Liberation struggle:

“it is only by strengthening ourselves ideologically, inculcating in ourselves the values & ideals of the struggle and building up the ranks of the revolutionary party that we will make it! Finally, we must constantly review, criticize & self criticize all aspects of our actions, policies, tactics etc. Keep appraising the whole situation & keep striving to raise the class consciousness, spirit & capacity to fight & win of the working class.”

The Primacy of Politics

As Ta Power indicates, the Irish Republican Socialist Movement followed what is known as the ‘party/army model’ and Ta Power critiques the ‘contradictions’ in that relationship.Ta Power utilises Marxian dialectics to explain the relationship between the political activities of the IRSM, which he refers to as:

‘A’ the party (IRSP) and: ‘B’ the military wing, (INLA.)

He states that ‘group A’, the party, should guide ‘group B’, the army, but due to structural defects that Ta Power identifies, group B ended up being the dominant element and therefore a very retarded form of Marxian Praxis existed. He states that for many within group B, overtly political work was viewed as being unimportant, unfashionable and a distraction from armed struggle:

“therefore there arises a definite trend of spurning “A”[political] type work as being beneath their standing, style etc; there arises contempt for those involved in “A” type work ” 

He questions why political work came to be looked down upon as a lesser form of revolutionary struggle, despite there being so many extremely intelligent individuals involved. This one dimensional militaristic political culture within the IRSM at that time led to factionalism and power-base building:

“Are we amateurs & not professionals? We know the lessons of history, we know the mistakes & we either act accordingly or collapse. Salvation lies in clarity & the courage to implement change!”

Ta Power states that doing things in half-measures will only prove to be counter-productive, as he states that ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions!’

He then uses Lenin’s polemic against the myopic, cordite soaked Socialist Revolutionaries (SR’s) in Russia, to critique the purely militarist tendencies within the then IRSM. (It is worth noting that Lenin and therefore Ta Power, are using the term ‘terrorism’ in the strictly sociological sense here, not the bourgeois subjective sense)

“their terrorism is not connected in any ways with work among the masses……it distracts our very scanty organisational resources from their difficult & by no means complete task of organising a revolutionary party “


Although this article deals primarily with Part One of the Ta Power Document, the central theme of his dissertation is to assert the principles of Politics in Command‘ as the only salvation for the Irish Republican Socialist Movement. Power is fearless in his critique of one dimensional militarism within the IRSM and how that culture of disdain for overtly ‘political work’ led to such tragedies as the emergence of the IPLO counter-revolutionaries, power-base building by individuals and a general ‘running down’ of the role of the party.

Unlike the Irish Republican Socialist Movement’s various detractors who spend their time sniping from the sidelines, Ta Power’s critique came from within and therefore his essay should be studied, discussed and itself critiqued and indeed added, to if need be, in light of today’s political climate which has changed significantly since 1987 when the only ‘Republican’ groupings were essentially the Provisionals, the IRSM and the Officials, whereas in contemporary times there are a variety of Provisional movement splinter groups competing for primacy.

However, Ta Power’s critique of the IRSM still retains it’s resonance, even after a quarter of a century and it’s final prophetic lines are as apt today as in the late 1980s:

It will take a resolute leadership and the use of a firm but fair hand to drag this movement back onto the rails. Those who stand in the way of development and progress must be cast aside, no one or group will dictate solely the pace and path this movement will take to overcome its difficulties.

Those who seek to impose shackles must be cast aside without hesitation. We either go forward or backward.

Finally let us return to what we said in the first page of part one. There we said our objective in this draft, was an attempt to UNDERSTAND THE PAST so that we may ANALYSE THE PRESENT in order to INFLUENCE THE FUTURE. This is a bold claim to make, and an even bolder one to succeed with!”

Ta Power’s final words of his essay pulls no punches and is stridently honest and relevant  in the tasks facing the Irish Republican Socialist Movement in contemporary times if they are to grow as a viable revolutionary movement and not fall into the sad guise of a commemorative body, a one-dimensional nationalist grouping or a reformist movement far removed from it’s revolutionary raison d’etre but continue on as Ireland’s most progressive and revolutionary movement as envisioned and encouraged by Costello, Power, Bunting and Gallagher into the political and economic realities of the 21st Century.  Thankfully the IRSM continues to be involved in the struggle against imperialism, builds links and often leads the most militant elements workers’ movement in the struggle against Gombeen Capitalism, has created links in solidarity with revolutionaries abroad and continues to spread what Connolly described as ‘the divine gospel of discontent!’

Alex McGuigan,


The Primacy Of Politics by Garry O’Ciánain

Posted in Garry O’Ciánain, Irish Republican Socialism, IRSM, IRSP, Primacy of politics, Ta Power, Ta Power Document on September 11, 2013 by The Plough & The Stars

Thomas ‘Ta’ Power

(This article was written by comrade O’Ciánain in 2011 and just like the subject matter it explores, it retains it’s resonance today and acts as a guide for future Irish Republican Socialists)

This year marked the twenty fourth anniversary of the assassination of Volunteer Thomas Power and his comrade, Volunteer John O’Reilly. The ‘Ta’ Power document highlights the political intellect of Ta Power. Power spoke of the need for the primacy of politics for greater internal democracy within the Irish Republican Socialist Movement. Thomas Power’s assassination by counter-revolutionaries who espoused the idea that:

“….Republicanism in Ireland is adequately served by Sinn Fein and the IRA… a new organisation at this time is premature”.

This theory was an old one going back to Eamonn De Valera’s statement that “Labour must wait.” Republicanism is not adequately served by Sinn Fein. That is evident by their acceptance of the Good Friday Agreement, which is built on an Apartheid basis of an elite minority taking precedence over the will of the working class people on this island. Sinn Fein whilst hypocritically condemning public service cuts in the 26 counties, are quite prepared to implement them in the North. Similarly in the 26 counties when Labour was asked to wait, it did and it is still waiting! The wait has resulted in a dictionary-definition republic which is controlled by corrupt and capitalist politicians. This is why the primacy of politics is vital to the Irish Republican Socialist Party. Labour will not wait any longer.

The Irish Republican Socialist Party have an obligation to the working class people of Ireland to ensure that their interests are not passed over or ignored. When we talk about the primacy of politics, we do not mean Armani suits at Stormont or the Dail. We mean the politics of the street which are created by hunger in the belly and anger in the head. Street politics means our involvement in community action, public demonstrations and self-education. Placing politics at centre stage also means that there is a need for self-education that destroys the myth that victory for our political cause can only come through force of arms. The Irish Republican Socialist Party states that their can be no military solution to a political problem Ireland’s problem was not a military one in 1922, 1969 and it is not a military problem in 2011. The evil social and economic effects of partition must be challenged by the working class people as a whole.

The primacy of politics means that the IRSP must have a high level of commitment and activism from its members. This means involvement in community issues and a continual presence on the streets. The IRSP must be active and relevant to the ongoing social, political and economic issues in West Belfast and beyond. We live in an era now where conditions have changed. This means our response must change. This does not mean our objective has changed our ultimate goal remains the end to imperialist rule in Ireland and the establishment of a 32-county socialist republic with the working class controlling the means of production, ownership and exchange.

The primacy of politics is essential not just for the Irish Republican Socialist Party but for the Irish working class!

“Understand the past so that we may analyse the present in order to influence the future!”
(INLA Volunteer Thomas ‘Ta’ Power)

By: Garry O’Ciánain

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