Archive for Anti-Imperialism

Edel ‘Lola’ Carroll – Anti-Fascist Fighter

Posted in Alex McGuigan, Anarchism, Anti Fascism, Fallen Comrades, fascism, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on July 13, 2018 by The Plough & The Stars

lola 3

It was with great shock and sadness we learned of the death today of lifelong Anti-Fascist and Irish Republican activist, Edel ‘Lola’ Carroll.  Lola was subjected to constant threats of violence, often on a daily basis, by the dregs of the British Far Right and in the past had been seriously assaulted by Fascist thugs.  However, she remained fearlessly undeterred and relentlessly campaigned against racism, imperialism and the forces of reaction.  Our deepest sympathies are extended to Lola’s family, friends and comrades.

A crowdfunding page has been set up by close friends and comrades of Lola to try to give this lifelong Socialist activist a fitting send off.  Donations can be made via this LINK

As was anticipated, on hearing of Lola’s tragic death the dregs of the Far Right used social media to harass grieving family, friends and comrades. I have no intention of posting screen grab examples of their threatening, misogynistic, racist and ghoulish messages. Suffice to say, one would probably only encounter such deviant language within the confines of a prison’s Paedophile wing, which aptly enough, is exactly where a growing number of Far Right Patriots are being decanted into for some of the most heinous crimes against children.

The ever popular podcast, FemAnonFatal Women On The Front Line, has been dedicated to Lola, paying tribute and respect at the passing of one of the Anti Fascist movement’s indomitable activists. The Women On The Front Line podcast can be accessed via this Link.

lola 2

I measc Laochra na Fhrith-Faisisteach go raibh a anam dílis.

Beidh ár lá linn! 



IRSP International Department Easter speech 2017

Posted in Anti-Zionism, Belfast, Class Solidarity, Commemoration, Easter Commemoration, Fallen Comrades, Human Rights, Imperialism, INLA, International socialism, Internationalism, Irish National Liberation Army, Irish Republican Socialism, IRSCNA, IRSM, IRSP, Kurdistan, PFLP, Scottish Indepence, Socialism, Solidaity, Statements with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2017 by The Plough & The Stars

Source: IRSP NEWS!

Head of the Irish Republican Socialist Party International Department and Ard Comhairle member Sean Carlin delivered a solidarity message to our comrades struggling abroad.

sean carlin



International solidarity is an important aspect of the struggle for socialism in Ireland. Through this work our International department has endeavored to rebuild old friendships and to find new allies as we try to get support for our struggle but also give support and solidarity to others around the world who find themselves fighting against oppression and injustice.

During this Easter we would like to extend solidarity and revolutionary greetings to our comrades in Catalonia as they demand independence from Spain. They have fought a long and hard fight over the decades and if they can achieve victory this it will bode well for their neighbours in the Basque country. ETA has very recently volunarily disarmed in an attempt to further their cause through politically peaceful activities. It’s been reported that the Spanish government has not reacted in a positive manner to this brave move. History has shown that the Spanish will not come easily to a political solution that gives autonomy to either the Basques or the Catalans and we urge our comrades to exercise caution and to stay resolute when dealing with the intransigence of Madrid. Like here, too many sacrifices have been made and too many imprisoned and too many families broken up over a long period of time for these initiatives not to produce positive political results for our comrades in the Basque country.

Given our experience of the pacification process here in Ireland we would caution. We would demand that the Spanish and French Governments recipricate ETA’s initiative and repatriate Basque prisoners from both Spanish and French jails. We know from experience if you oppose the process for any reason you will be subjected to state harrassment

Since the Brexit referendum there is a growing desire from Scotland to once against vote to leave the UK. We look forward to any coming referdom in Scotland were the scots have a chance to become a free nation as we see this as a real opportunity for occupied Ireland.

This year has seen many groups fighting for to implement a better, more sustainable progressive and revolutionary future for their people. Some are simply fighting against oppression from religious fundamentalists and we will continue to offer support to all these goups.

The Kurds, Palestinians, Syrians, Yemenis, the Free Papua Movement  to name but a few as we see the interests of the USA and backed by the worlds capitalists rain their bombs in civilian targets and hospitals inbuilt up areas but never the oil or the gas depots.

Comrades as neo liberal agenda ramps up we must be ready to stand by our comrades

We from this platform must send the messge out loud and clear

You have our support and our solidarity

Saoirse go deo

Main Easter Rising Commemorative Oration [2017]

Posted in Commemoration, Easter 2016, Easter Commemoration, Fallen Comrades, INLA, International socialism, Internationalism, Ireland, Irish Citizen Army, Irish National Liberation Army, Irish Republican Socialism, IRSCNA, IRSM, IRSP, James Connolly, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2017 by The Plough & The Stars


This years main oration was delivered by IRSP Ard Comhairle member and Trade Union activist Michael McLaughlin.

Michael McLaughlin reads the main oration

Comrades, supporters, friends, brothers and sisters one year on from the centenary of the 1916 rising we again gather to remember the sacrifice of all volunteers who fell in action in defence of the principles laid out in the  proclamation of the Irish Republic.


In particular this year we remember our young volunteers who died in defence of the Irish Republican Socialist Party’s right to exist. We owe them everything and as a new generation of republican socialists step up to continue the struggle for national liberation and socialism it’s on their shoulders we stand, united and stronger than ever.


Our journey to socialism was a natural progression out of necessity, the jackboot of imperialist occupation was our introduction to the class nature of society. We were failed, we all, at some point, lived with the bitter taste of poverty, our opposition to the physical manifestations of imperialism awakened a consciousness that naturally led us to socialism. As our contempt for the establishment grew so did our understanding that to be truly free, to be truly liberated, means giving ownership of the nation to its entire people.


We seen a society built upon inequality and exploitation of the communities we grew up in, wage slaves, everyone broken on some level all disenfranchised but not powerless, never powerless. The strength that it took to stand up against imperialism, to agitate and strive to confront our oppressors on any level possible, this is the strength that is alive in the Irish Republican Socialist Party today and this is the strength on which the socialist republic will be built.


Real change will come from the streets. As its only by the active participation of the masses, the dispossessed and exploited, taking control of their own interests for the good of our entire class can any change worth fighting for be delivered.


The time for a debate on the type of Ireland we wish to create is here. An Ireland with universal participation in real democracy for all citizens, constitutional rights to work, to rest, to leisure, the right to a properly maintained and funded state health service, care in old age and in sickness, a right to housing a right to education, a right to freedom of expression and a right to privacy, the right to the freedom of information, freedom of assembly, the right to religious worship or to choose not to, the separation of church and state, the right to artistic expression, the protection of the concept of diverse contemporary family. These things are not bargaining chips between the working and ruling classes, they should be enshrined in a progressive collective nation’s constitution, not become a construct of the capitalist toll bridge society to profit the few.


As the political establishments on both sides of the border continue to fail workers, as we witness the commencement of neoliberalist divorce proceedings between the capitalist states of Europe, in this climate a momentum towards an Irish border poll is slowly but steadily growing, we cannot ignore this. A cursory glance around the island points us to the conclusion of a society deeply divided and polarised by class, a border poll is just one issue that needs addressed.


We are serious about our political aims and objectives. We are serious about a united socialist Ireland,this process starts by dialogue between all progressive forces on what type of Ireland we wish to create. The IRSP are ready for that debate. We will never be a barrier to any serious attempts to remove partition, we will stand shoulder to shoulder with all who strive to achieve this, we are willing to share the important lessons we have learned standing outside the Good Friday Agreement though striving for a peaceful resolution of the national question.


All over Ireland a war is waging between bosses and workers. Corporations interests are protected by the state and the media, natural resources stolen and sold to enrich the few. Benefits sanctions attack our most vulnerable while working conditions are slowly eroded. Our trade unions are under constant attack. We stand in solidarity with everyone in their daily struggles. We cannot beg for equality from either the British state or the Irish capitalist state, asking for equality from entities built on hegemonic inequality is a futile act, we must take back what they have stolen, our nation’s wealth, our dignity, we must revive the collective aspirations of our class.


A merging of two corrupt capitalist states into one corrupt capitalist state is not good enough, the struggle cannot stop there, we strive for a society grounded in Irish neutrality and in the vision of Connolly that will never capitulate to, nor serve, the interests of the most wealthy over the needs of Irish workers.

There is much talk of the re emergence of a hard border due to a British exit from the EU.This hard border already exists due to British and European Union austerity measures all over Ireland, an uncomfortable truth for some. A most dangerous yet subtle hard border than has ever existed, a hard border that unemployment, poverty, lack of opportunities, underemployment, fear of eviction creates, a hard border that exists at the front door of the majority of homes on this island.

A hard border that prevents the active participation of citizens in society, a hard border at your own front door that breaks men,women and children, a hard border at your own front door trapping people in a cycle of debt and human exploitation. A psychological hard border that destroys the dreams, hopes, imagination and aspirations of our class to collectively achieve a society which protects people, not prosecutes, a society in which no man woman or child is left behind.

This year marks the centenary of the great October revolution. A time to revisit the spirit and determination of the Soviet people who created something unique, the world’s first socialist state, it’s a time to look at the similarities between the IRSP and the Bolsheviks. Both our political parties, although thousands of miles apart we cut from the same oppressed working class anti-imperialist and internationalist cloth.

Historically the IRSP, like the Bolsheviks had no problem in working outside the perceived norms of political activity when the situation dictated it. When seeking funding for their political activities both parties were not above engaging in proletarian expropriation. When facing the might of an oppressive imperialist state both parties were not above taking up arms against it. When facing reactionary counter revolution from within, both parties were not above physically confronting it in whatever way they seen fit. When facing a changing political climate both parties were progressive enough to change with the times.

As we move towards the centenary of the great October revolution the links between the 1916 Irish rising and the Bolshevik revolution are more intertwined than modern historians would like us all to believe.

Shortly after the nineteen sixteen rising a delegation of what were to become senior Bolsheviks arrived in Dublin from exile in London to learn the lessons from the Irish fight against imperialism. What they took away from revolutionary Ireland is all academic and up for debate. But Lenin said at the second world congress of the soviet international in nineteen twenties Petrograd that he considered James Connolly to be head and shoulders above above his contemporaries in the european socialist movement. Lenin said that the easter rising was a decisive blow against the power of English imperialism.

Comrades the complete and honest truth is a powerful weapon we must not ignore when we are confronted by the false propaganda churned out from the establishment. The very curriculum in our children’s schools is capitalist propaganda to create obedient lackeys, from the pulpit, newspapers, internet articles flows capitalist propaganda, it’s an instrument of their rule.

We have to break this cycle of lies we must continue to spread the message a that stable, sustainable, shared, socialist republic is in the people’s best interests, a free Ireland that belongs to them from Ballymena to Bantry Bay.

Posted in Uncategorized

Portraits of the '87 Martyrs are held by family members at the 2017 IRSP Easter Sunday procession.Many hundreds of the Republican Socialist faithful assembled upon Belfast’s Falls Road today (Easter Sunday 2017) to pay tribute to Ireland’s fallen martyrs and the revolutionary dead from all generations of the Irish National Liberation and working class struggles.

In particular recognition of the 30th Anniversary of the attempted neutralisation of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, pride of place was rightly given to the families of those INLA Volunteers who in 1987, gave their lives in defence of the IRSP and the primacy of revolutionary democracy.

Republican Socialist colour party salute the INLA martyrs of 1987.

Despite frivolous warnings from the PSNI/RUC a young Republican Socialist colour party emerged into large crowds congregated at Dunville Park on the Falls Road, before marching towards a small gathering of close family and comrades of INLA Volunteers; Tá Power, John O’Reilly, Mickey Kearney, Emmanuel Gargan and Kevin Barry Duffy, who had gathered with portraits of their loved ones.

Portraits of the '87 Martyrs are held by family members at the 2017 IRSP Easter Sunday procession.

The families of the ’87 Martyrs were then invited to form up at the immediate rear of the colour party, followed by wreath bearers representing the many families of INLA and IRSP fallen from all decades of the modern Republican Socialist movement.

A new appearance from the recently formed ‘Jemmy Hope Republican Socialist Flute Band’ Belfast, was met with enthusiasm from all in attendance, while columns of IRSM ex-Prisoners and veterans from around Ireland formed up at intervals, interspersed with other attending Republican Socialist and Republican Flute bands from around Ireland and beyond.


Comrades from as far away as Sweden and France also joined in the procession which made its way up the Falls Road and into what can only be described as appallingly wet conditions and onto Belfast’s Milltown cemetery.

Upon entrance to Milltown it became apparent to all those in attendance that numbers had swelled to what may well have been record levels for a Belfast IRSM gathering, a fitting recognition of the determination of the ’87 Martyrs and all the INLA & IRSP fallen, who over the years imbued the wider Republican Socialist family with a spirit of eternal resolve and commitment to always bounce back, stronger than before.

Despite appalling conditions, flags are lowered at the home of IRSP founder, James Connolly

With proceedings chaired by Belfast IRSP activist John Nugent, this theme of resolve was touched upon by main speaker Michael McLaughlin from Strabane, who (in reference to the ’87 martyrs) reminded all those in attendance that ‘we stand upon their shoulders’.

Comrade McLaughlin then went on to touch upon the resounding political themes currently emanating from the Stormont establishment and mainstream nationalist politicians, reminding those in attendance of the ‘hard border at the door of all working-class families’.

Michael McLaughlin reads the main oration

He stated ‘This hard border already exists due to British and European Union austerity measures all over Ireland, an uncomfortable truth for some. A most dangerous yet subtle hard border than has ever existed, a hard border that unemployment, poverty, lack of opportunities, underemployment, fear of eviction creates, a hard border that exists at the front door of the majority of homes on this island.’

Confirming that the IRSP would get behind any progressive efforts to end partition, he continued however ‘A merging of two corrupt capitalist states into one corrupt capitalist state is not good enough, the struggle cannot stop there’.

Ex IRSM prisoner Jimmy McCafferty reads the INLA, IRSP & H'Block, roll of honour.

For Republican Socialist POW Jimmy McCafferty also gave what was a quite unique and personal rendition of the IRSP, INLA and H-Block roll of honour, paying attention to the individuals and how they died.

Comrade Canice Millen of the Republican Socialist Youth movement read out the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic, while Comrades Danny Morrison (Derry IRSP) and Gerard Murray (Belfast IRSP) read out statements of solidarity from both the Republican Socialist Associations of North America and Republican Socialist Prisoners in Maghaberry and Portlaoise.

John Nugent (Belfast IRSP) chaired proceedings while the 1916 proclamation was read by Canice Millen

Wreaths were also laid on behalf of IRSP and INLA structures from across Ireland.

In what was a deeply moving and personal gesture, long term Belfast Republican Socialist activist Fra Halligan also read his own tribute to the fallen INLA martyrs of 1987, addressing both the personal loss of the families and friends of the fallen, but also the counter revolutionary dynamic which lay behind the events of that dark period, stating firmly that (contrary to media spin) what occurred was not factionalism in any form, but a premeditated attack upon the structured of Costello’s Irish Republican Socialist Movement, an attack which has had failed and which (should similar circumstances arise) would surely fail again.

Fra Halligan (Belfast IRSP) gives a deeply personal and moving tribute to the INLA martyrs of 1987

Fra Halligan (Belfast IRSP) gives a deeply personal and moving tribute to the INLA martyrs of 1987

Overall, Easter 2017 was a special occasion for the Irish Republican Socialist Movement, a living tribute and testimony to the spirit ideals and resolve of their fallen comrades and all of Ireland’s revolutionary dead.

Belfast IRSP activist John Kearny, proudly poses with family members and a portrait of his brother, INLA Vol Mickey Kearny.

A relative of INLA Volunteer Emmanuel Gargan rests at the Milltown Republican Socialist plot

Danny Morrison (Derry) reads statement on behalf of Republican Socialist prisoners.

Gerard Murray (Belfast) reads solidarity statements from comrades around the world




Chris Hedges – Socialist, Presbyterian Minister, Anti-Imperialist & Pro Palestine Activist

Posted in Socialism, Solidaity, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 16, 2017 by The Plough & The Stars


The Hezbollah – Lebanon’s Broad Front Resistance Movement

Posted in Anti-Zionism, Internationalism, Solidarity, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 23, 2017 by The Plough & The Stars

Forget Israeli, Brit, US and EU Imperialist propaganda – make up your own mind..

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.

IRSP Hunger Strike Debate & Exhibition 11.4.12 093.JPG

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

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 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!


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


 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.


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

%d bloggers like this: