Friday, March 13, 2015

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Irish Syriza?

Sean Bresnahan writes about the ridiculous spectacle of Sinn Fein's summersaulting on the Stormont House Austerity Agreement. Sean Bresnahan, is PRO of the 1916 Societies and Secretary of the Thomas Ashe Society in Omagh and is writing here in a personal capacity.

What people should realise when confronted by the ongoing propaganda-drive of New Sinn Fein, posting photos of themselves 'in proud solidarity with the Unions' as though any credibility attaches to the bizarre stance they've taken, is that the current crisis at Stormont does not relate to the overall ‘global’ figures in terms of austerity cuts but relates to where the cuts are to be made. Sinn Fein are as deceptive as they come here and people need to waken up.

The hard reality, once you strip away the cleverly-choreographed misinformation, is that Sinn Fein have been flat-out defending the Stormont House Agreement, figures and all, and have viciously criticised those who opposed it – their venomous attack on the SDLP particularly of note here. So let's be clear, they are not and never have rejected this agreement or its figures and nor are they against austerity. The ongoing dispute at Stormont relates to where austerity cuts will be made not if they'll be made.

Challenging the Stormont Tories

At a rally today in Omagh all speakers who took the podium made it crystal clear that the Stormont coalition — which Sinn Fein heads with the DUP — bears responsibility for what is an unprecedented and indeed an ongoing attack on the working people, only exceeded in that responsibility by Westminster – who's bidding they signed up to at Stormont House to protect their sacred institutions and jobs, 11 percent pay-rise included.

So this is truly the stuff of the charlatan, they are fooling no-one. Sinn Fein are already administering the very 'Tory Cuts' they disingenuously claim to be fighting and have been doing so for months. Two people in the photograph attached physically voted for the Stormont House Agreement — which was the focus of the protests today — and while they may be good enough fellas, and in all likelihood following orders, it doesn't change facts. There's no room for sentimentality, the issue itself is too important.

Those who spoke from the platform in Omagh made it clear that neither Sinn Fein or their DUP partners are in support of their fight but are the ones who've actually forced them into taking the course of action they have. No handy photo-op at the head of the crowd will change that. If New Sinn Fein are serious about change they should begin with an immediate reappraisal of their attitude towards upholding and legitimising British austerity in Ireland – the latest chapter of which is to be found in Stormont House. They are on the wrong side of austerity just as they are on the wrong side of the Union.

They would no doubt have it they've already done so, given their walk-out the other day, but the devil is in the detail. They pulled the plug on the Welfare Bill and not the Stormont House Agreement and as such, as the Unions and others well know and pointed out today, they have accepted the global figures contained therein – which are the product of the UK government at Westminster, its neo-liberal vision for the future and its attack on all sectors of society bar the powerful and wealthy.

Sinn Fein and their DUP partners have already committed to those figures and to implementing them – if that's not austerity and the Tory cuts they claim to oppose then we really need to wonder what is? Their lies and deceit cut no mustard with the people on that street today and for those attempting this ludicrous effort to ride two horses at the one time they were told the same from the platform in no uncertain terms, if they chose to listen.

The lesson is clear. Those who play the game by the enemy's rules are propping up the system and all it brings – austerity included. Whatever argument there may have been for doing so in the past is gone – thus why Unions are prepared to strike regardless of the constitutional consequences and despite insidious attempts to besmirch them as 'anti peace' by none other than the willing hacks of New Sinn Fein.

The constitutional settlement Sinn Fein now upholds is a disaster for the people of this country, as is the crippling economic narrative underpinning it. A good idea, if they're genuinely opposed to austerity, might be to stop propping it up and start the process of engendering meaningful political change. If they're not prepared to do so then in reality they offer the people nothing. Indeed what they do in this instance is legitimise the Tory attack on the ordinary 5’ 8” by giving it the veneer of local accountability through that farce 'on the hill' we know as Stormont.

The British government could be removed from the equation if we were to force a constitutional crisis and demand genuine self-determination. We can do so by democratic and extra-democratic means and in fact these are the means they fear most – and thus the need for a client breed of politicians to keep things ticking over, to keep the people in check through providing the illusion of democratic accountability and participation, while the real power rules from behind.

What if people constructively made these arrangements unworkable rather than prop them up, they couldn't survive. British rule is hanging by a thread – it always has been. That thread is the assent of public representatives to tolerate their presence and sadly Sinn Fein as a party has become a part of that.

'Ruling by fooling is a great British art with great Irish fools to practice on' said the bold James Connolly. I say don't let them fool you and get out on the streets if and where you can going forward. Help us tear down the austerity regime at Stormont HQ doing London's bidding and with it that shameful agreement ALL our local Sinn Fein and DUP MLAs voted for only weeks ago. The struggle to banish austerity to the annals of history, as an anachronism that has no fitting place in any society, is only beginning. Together we can win.


Dixie said...

Great piece Sean. They might as well have turned up today dressed in their Flying Column gear and they wouldn't have looked any more ridiculous than they already did...

Peter said...

Your articles rarely fail to disappoint. I think we agree up to a point that western neo-liberalism is profoundly unfair, and that it skilfully deals with dissent by 'othering' their enemies in the compliant media. It is a massive conspiracy that exports inequality all around the globe, but what do you the 1916 Societies propose to do about it? You are always light on policy. A 32 county socialist republic would need inward investment and trading partners, if the British, EU and USA are not to provide that then who would? How would you stop capital and manpower flight? Are you proposing a cold, wet and windy version of Cuba, reliant on Russia and China?
The real reason for your anti-austerity rant comes at the end where you posit that the anti-austerity protests should be used to end British rule. Have the 1916 Societies no intention to engage with left leaning loyalists? Clearly not. Your rhetoric is sadly sectarian. Would 'Irish' austerity be better than 'British' austerity? I don't think you really care about austerity, rather that it is a means to an end.

sean bres said...

First things first Peter, I haven't a sectarian bone in my body and I'm always keen to hear from Unionists what kind of United Ireland they would like to live in, were one to eventuate in the future. It's a conversation I believe is necessary for the sake of all who live on this island, whether two peoples or one, whether British, Irish, 'foreign national' or whatever. We need a democratically agreed Ireland with constitutional protections that ensure people, not corporate profit, are first in line.

I believe partition is the lynchpin of the status quo that upholds invasive corporate power in Ireland, which is in my reckoning a higher form and the inheritor of imperialism. That's why I'm so opposed to partition and not because I'm a rabid nationalist, as many often assume from my rhetorical style of writing. Perhaps I need to work on that for I've heard elsewhere, much to my chagrin, that some people consider me a Catholic reactionary!

That's not to say though I believe there's anything wrong with nationalism per se; for me the national unit is what we have to work with at this time and this should be used to effect the type of changes we would like to see, in turn setting a worthy example to other communities, be they nation-states, regional entities or whatever. Partition is a barrier to creating those changes and thus why I feel we need to dispose of it as soon as practically possible. We need to create a meaningful democratic engagement to replace it.

Austerity is as much an enemy of the Unionist as it is the nationalist as it is the people who live in the South. It is the enemy of the Scots and English, the Spanish, the Greeks, of anyone, anywhere, experiencing the full force of its destructive impact. We cannot though understand austerity without understanding the fiat monetary system and the insidious purpose of central banking in its modern guise — which is to enslave and control whole societies through debt and subordinate their interests to the banking power. He who controls debt controls everything.

The real problem in our world is the now out of control fiat monetary system and those behind it, that's the root. Until we grasp the root then we only ever modify and thus in turn sustain the system. Everything else — religion, nationalism, whatever-ism — is there to distract us away from this reality. The system obviously prefers governments of the right but do not rule out its capacity to reconcile with the left, as seems now to be the aim in Greece, in order to preserve its fundamental interest — which is to maintain the fiat monetary system from which they profit through controlling debt. Ultimately the real power doesn't care about anything other than retaining that control at the critical point.

sean bres said...

The issue across the board for me then, whether in Ireland or wherever, is sovereignty, or more accurately the lack of. And I don't mean over territory. Without sovereignty over our lives we are condemned to the imperial machinations of those who control the system as it now exists, of which the partition-system in Ireland and its two-state model is key in terms of ourselves. In that respect my approach is we must be outside the state as it exists, we must be outside the system. The system itself must be constant with the sovereignty of the people otherwise it's of no use to us and serves only to perpetuate the dominance of the corporate elite.

If we do not disrupt and dismantle the underlying working of imperial capital but merely modify and rebalance it, as seems to be happening now in Greece, we perpetuate the control of the money power. What we need do instead is establish a sovereign and democratic republic in control of the supply, import and export of money, with a central banking system predicated on the sovereignty of the people. Greece needs to do the same. In short we have to rout and bring to an end the banking power, for this is the real enemy — not just in Ireland but everywhere. If we do that then capital flight is irrelevant.

Beyond that I feel democracy should be extended as far as possible so that communities can meaningfully engage in the decisions that affect their lives. The cooperative model of economic organisation should be tied into all of this to promote the necessary entrepreneurship productivity requires, within the community mindset to discourage accumulation of private interest.
I don't know if that's a revolutionary analysis or not, nor do I really care. What I know is that this is something that can be achieved. If we achieve the above we can enter international markets, which of course will still exist, on our own terms and pursue bilateral arrangements with other states, federations, confederations or whatever on the basis of mutual solidarity, in what is a changing world.

What we need do at this point in my opinion is to engender a democratic engagement to help determine how a new republic in Ireland might appear — to set out its broad parameters in concert with the people, with the people themselves involved in and helping to develop the process. As far as 1916 Societies might be concerned, the above can be married to a campaign for an all-Ireland referendum, which itself allows us to present the wider argument while building political strength on the back of that argument. But ‘One Ireland One Vote’ is not, and nor should it be, the sole focus of the Societies, it’s only one part of what we’re about.

Ultimately and after all that, in a new Ireland power would hopefully belong to the people in a truly sovereign arrangement, in which the private money-issuing banking houses would no longer have control. It wouldn't matter if you were Unionist, nationalist, Marxist or Martian, we would be free and independent. For me that’s the only revolution worth striving for. Under any arrangement which preserves the position of those in question we remain subject to what is an insidious form of slavery out of sync with my notion of what it means to be free — both as an individual and as a society.

Henry JoY said...


The failure to forge strategic alliances no matter how tenuous or flimsy they may be is the glaring inadequacy of all the republican groupings.

Around ten years ago I initiated a dialogue with a former loyalist prisoner, whom I had identified and contacted through some extended professional networks we both shared, with the view to facilitating a conversation between RSF and the PUP.

Though this was entirely off my own bat I did it with O'Br√°daigh's blessing. He gave me a policy pamphlet which he had signed with a brief hand written comment for my contact. My contact, when we eventually got to meet face to face, led me to believe that he was working with the approval of David Irvine.

Alas it never went further than that. A good time afterwards (and subsequent to David Irvines death) I brought it up with Rory again. He told me that his attentions were tied up at the time with an internal schism that had developed and continued for some time within the organisation in Limerick.

If republicans are to forge new ground such engagement ought be encouraged. Too many of them are looking over their shoulder protecting their narrow little power bases rather than taking on the risky burden of effective leadership.

Peter said...

Henry Joy
When these republican micro-groups say they are non-sectarian and working for all on the island I don't believe them. When they say they want a socialist revolution on the most socially conservative piece of land in the western hemisphere I almost feel sorry for them. As if the people of Ireland are going to trust the justice system, schools and hospitals to a largely northern bunch of dissident/alternative republicans.

Henry JoY said...


Your position is well stated and understandable. All the more reason that these groups start engaging with the PUL communities.

Alas when put to the challenge, we're likely to find that they'll have difficulties in letting go of their old patterns of thrust when asking PUL's to place themselves in their trust!

Even with the best will in the world there's no quick fix to overcoming the consequences of our collective and painful past. We need to put aside, in the short to medium term, all delusional and grandiose expectations; to face up to where we're at and content ourselves that the excesses we inflicted upon each other have greatly diminished. We need to do this for the generations to come.

We both can agree with Sean that Western neo-liberalsim is essentially unfair but Sean will need to listen our concerns too. He needs to hear the legitimate views of those on the middle ground. We're concerned about the consequences of idealistic rhetoric and flag-waving. Some of us have valid reservations about where this usually tends to end up.

He needs to realise that some of us are content to accept slower and safer evolutionary change rather than bind ourselves to idealistic, impatient and unpredictable revolutionary proposals.

Alas, the revolutionary path requires societal destabilisation so I suppose its unrealistic to expect those of a revolutionary bent, except the wiser with greater discernment, to engage in matters which might be perceived as contributing to greater cohesiveness.

Such are the dilemmas that need consideration.

Peter said...

Henry Joy

I totally agree. I come on here week after week hoping to read a detailed piece on what these socialist republicans actually plan to do, but the articles are always big on repetitious republican rhetoric and light on policy. Socialism has been all but defeated by the neo-liberal elites, groups like Syriza and Podemos are trying to change the discourse to appeal to the frustrated and squeezed but here we get the same old shit. Nearly all of the articles from the 1916 Societies and the IRSP are formulaic republican nonsense. They all talk about "struggle", "Brit Imperialism", "revolution", "the proclamation", "gombeens" etc etc. Nobody is inspired, they are preaching to the converted. Nobody votes for these groups nor will large numbers ever vote for them.
What will they do if they get their one island referendum? What next? Who will lead the new socialist republic? What sort of republic will it be? How will they deal with my community? Can we be sure they won't start stiffing each other if they fall out? They must surely know they will never succeed in taking power on this island, so why do they continue? Your postings a few months ago about the cultish nature of Irish republicanism were spot on. It reminds me of the Mercerism cult in the book Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

AM said...


your comment got deleted by mistake. As the email account it would normally also show up on is down at minute so I can't copy and paste it for you. I think this is the thread you posted on. Can you repost?

pat murphy said...

Have no copy myself or if there is I haven't a clue of how to access it. Shot from the hip,but if memory serves me right through the haze of the finest Jamesons I directed my post primeraly at peter.
I ask if he is so sure no one would vote for this outfit why would he be against a referendum. My opinion would be that those who fear a vote are those who know they will loose. Also,take power from who?. This country belongs to everyone in it no matter orange or green and if numsculls would take of their blinkers they would see this. No government in Westminster gives too fucks if our children have breakfast in the morning. When your back is against the wall you would be glad of your neighbour even though he be wrapped in a fleg you don't like. The big police and security jobs are over,no more big cheques and cushy jobs for the loyal few. Waken up,as Bliar said,the train is leaving the station time to jump aboard. The people of this country can work together the pricks who would presume to rule you have devided us for too long. I was also going to reply to Henry but thought I would just not waste my time.

AM said...


it will reappear eventually once eircom sort out their woeful glitches

Peter said...

I'm against a referendum because I'm a unionist. In my opinion Ireland is not ready for a UI just yet. When republicans say we have nothing to fear and then cheer the Druids saying "go home planters" my suspicions are raised.
As for people voting for eirigi, 32CSM, RNU, IRSP, RSF etc the clue is in the amount of micro groups. They can't even agree with each other why would anyone waste a vote by giving it to one of these groups? This island is crying out for a pragmatic left group that speaks to real people, but articles like Sean's just rant the same old crap.

pat murphy said...

Peter I am disappointed in you. I thought that maybe you were a bit different from the typical drum beating kick the pope type,obviously not. I would hate to think that I based my opinion of unionists on what the media portrays on the six o clock news around twadell avenue or the blinding hatred shown towards a few little children trying to get to school in ardoyne. The Druids do not influence my politics and I don't think they would have much effect on any other with a bit of wit. You have a right to express your opinion that you think we are not ready for a UI but I also have a right to differ. The false union has failed. Ireland must be allowed to act on its own behalf. We don't want or need foreigners telling us how to live. 800 years of history has proved this. We do not surrender to force,Cromwell tried,Lake tried,Travallion tried,the Black and Tans tried,Thatcher tried,they all failed and you know it. When I say we I mean you and I both. Peter I don't know what to say that would help you see that your are being taken for fools. When you step of the boat at Holyhead you are paddy. When you die in Flanders you are paddy,when your car is blown to bits you are paddy. While you were needed to stop a bullet you were useful,nothing more nothing less. You were still classed as one of the fighting Irish. Get it through your head you are living on the Mainland. Across that narrow strip of water you are not wanted. I have crossed it too often to know. Kick the pope, fly your fleg piss around the chapel gate, all the backing you will get will be from a few biggotts on the Larne to Stranraer boat. The tragedy is this country could be a Mecca if its people could only see past their own little tribes. This country is certainly crying out for a pragmatic left group that speaks to real people,do you in all honesty believe that this would ever be a possibility under British rule. Peter not so long as your asshole points down.

Peter said...

I can't imagine why you would think I was a 'kick the pope type'. I am an atheist and a liberal, I haven't been to an OO parade since '91. I 'kick' the new earth prods as hard as I kick the lovers of the superstition cult of Rome.
As for the old republican line of "sure the English hate you" well the people of the south don't much like us either. You seem to misunderstand our culture. I am an Ulster-Scot, a planter, I have more in common with our neighbours in Ayrshire than with Kerrymen. I can see Ayrshire from my living room window and trace my ancestory to there in the early 1600s. I don't give a fuck what the English think of us. There are one million of us mostly in the north east of this island and we don't trust republicans. Until something changes we won't go for a UI. Republican obsession with partition is a waste of time and energy. The idea that a UI will be a glorious panacea to the problems we face is simply nonsense. Articles like Sean's above say nothing to the people of this island and offer no attractive alternative. Your micro groups will continue to be an irrelevance unless they see the futility of their ways. It is refreshing to see so many posters on this site acknowledging the reality of the situation here, why can't you?

Henry JoY said...

Once again Peter your position is well stated. Your assessment and mine are largely similar save that'd I'd let them have their stupid vote. They'll be humiliated.

These guys and gals haven't an original thought nor idea. Hence they trot out the same old hand-me-down dogma(s). They can't even begin to countenance that the unification proposals included in the proclamation were improbable and unattainable.

'Republicanism' like 'flegger loyalism' tends only to find traction with those who have not succeeded in getting their normal needs for status, and for meaning and purpose, met in conventional ways. Over-identification with, and fixation on political dogma and traditions are clung to in order to fill that void.

Its very unlikely that our comments will be heard Peter. They won't be heard for that would require these fundamentalists facing up to the scary task of looking into their very own personal abyss.

pat murphy said...

Peter where did you ever get the idea that a UI would be the answer to our problems? Certainly not from me. It would indeed be a first step if you could open your eyes and see the potential. I feel that a few years ago you would have tried to justify your opposition by declaring there was some fiendish popeish plot to exterminate all prods and sell their children into slavery. That shit doesn't wear now so you announce to those who would listen that there is now a republican plot to do something similar. Catch yourself on. I don't want to insult you but deluded comes to mind. Seriously how do you see things going forward?. Not surely more of the same. Your days of dominating me are over and I don't want to dominate anyone. So where from here?. That is the reality of the situation,it is a pity you can't/refuse to see it. Good luck and keep the faith. Pat.

AM said...

pat murphy has left a new comment on your post "Irish Syriza?":

Henry,nah your not worth a reply. Peter,if your so sure no one would vote for an all Ireland referendum what is there to fear?. You say THEY will never take power on this island. Take from who?. This island,if you could open your stubborn eyes belongs to us all. Wake up,you have and are being used by an outfit that doesn't give two fucks about where or what fleg you fly so long as they can profit from your stupidity. The days of the big police and security jobs are over. You are surplus to requirements. You have already been bought(sold) out. None in Westminster gives two hoots if you or your children gets breakfast tomorrow morning. You can't eat a flag. The only help you will get when you are on your knees will be from your neighbour,it doesn't matter if he is orange or green. The one thing you could bet your last dollar on he will definitely not be from government in either London or Dublin.

AM said...


the eircom account eventually worked and a copy of your comment came through