Matgamna on Gerry Adams and the Provos

May 2, 2014 at 7:33 am (AWL, communalism, crime, elections, From the archives, history, Ireland, populism, posted by JD, republicanism, tesco)

Gerry Adams

Shiraz Socialist is not in a position to express any opinion on the alleged involvement of Gerry Adams in the 1972 murder by the Provisional IRA of Jean McConville. Adams denies any involvement. Certainly, the timing of his arrest raises the possibility that it was politically motivated. However, this 2002 article by Sean Matgamna casts a useful light on Adams’ relationship with the Provos and the “physical-force” tradition within Irish republicanism:

I once knew a man who was shot by a Provisional IRA gang which included Adams

“Ireland occupies a position among the nations of the earth unique in… the possession of what is known as a ‘physical force party’ – a party, that is to say, whose members are united upon no one point, and agree upon no single principle, except upon the use of physical force as the sole means of settling the dispute between the people of this country and the governing power of Great Britain…

“[They] exalt into a principle that which the revolutionists of other countries have looked upon as a weapon… Socialists believe that the question of force is of very minor importance; the really important question is of the principles upon which is based the movement that may or may not need the use of force to realise its object…”
James Connolly, 22 July 1899

Seeing pictures of Gerry Adams grinning his Cheshire-cat-who-has-eaten-six-mice grin in triumph at SF/PIRA’s latest success reminded me that I once knew a man who was shot by a Provisional IRA gang which included Adams.

His name was John Magennis. Who was he? A British soldier? A member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary? A member of an Orange paramilitary group? One of the Northern Ireland workers shot by the Provisional IRA in the early 1990s for doing repair work on RUC stations?

No, John Magennis was a Republican. He belonged to the then mainstream Republican movement from which the Provisionals split away in December 1969. Those who remained were thereafter called the “Officials”. They seemed to be the left wing of the Republican movement. They talked about class and about socialism. But in fact their leaders were Stalinists.

The Provisionals were traditionalist Catholic right wing Republicans. They recoiled from the Officials for a number of reasons – their leftism, their Stalinism, their feebleness in responding to the communal fighting in Northern Ireland in August 1969, but, most of all, their turn to politics in general. The split was triggered by the decision of the IRA leaders that Sinn Fein would henceforth take any Dail seats which they might win in an election.

The split led to conflict between the two Republican groups over control of weapons and to a shooting war in which people on both sides died.

John Magennis, a member of the Official IRA, refused to surrender his gun to the gang of Provisional IRA men. They shot him, leaving him paralysed. He survived in that condition for some years and then died.

I met John Magennis only once or twice, about the time the IRA split was taking place. John Magennis was not yet an IRA member. He had come to Manchester to visit his uncle, John-John, a one-time Belfast Republican and later a prominent trade union militant on the Manchester docks, where he worked closely with a small group of Trotskyists, of whom I was one.

A big debate on Ireland had been going on in the IS group (now SWP), at that stage a democratic organisation in which such issues could be debated and of which we were members, since the deployment of British troops on the streets of Northern Ireland in August 1969, when serious sectarian fighting broke out in Derry and Belfast. Were we for or against British troops in Northern Ireland?

The discussion was very heated. Those of us who rejected the IS majority’s tacit support to the British state in Northern Ireland were denounced as bloodthirsty “fascists” at the September 1969 IS conference.

John Magennis came with one of his uncles to one of the debates in Manchester. He said he couldn’t see any acceptable alternative to “troops in”.

I remember something he said which later took on a special meaning. He expressed it in the jargon of Catholic nationalism, which idealises patriotic self-sacrifice “for Ireland”, the so-called “blood sacrifice”: “I don’t want to die for Ireland”.

Back in Belfast, he joined the “left-wing” Republicans. I heard he had been shot and paralysed, and later that he had died. It was many years before I saw him again – on TV on a home video, filmed in a nursing home, trying to learn to walk again – staggering painfully, spastically, a poor wreck of the vigorous young man he had been.

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The SWP at its best…and worst

February 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm (anti-fascism, Jim D, red-baiting, sectarianism, Socialist Party, SWP, tesco, youth)

Well done the SWP!
Now there’s something you never expected to read here. I’ve been meaning to say it for a week or so: ever since the Government’s workfare programmes began to unravel with major particpants like Tesco effectively pulling out and  the A4e cheap labour outfit exposed as a fraud-ridden money-making scam whose main aim is to further enrich Cameron’s chum Ms.Emma Harrison.

What’s this got to do with the SWP? Well, according to employment minister Chris Grayling, it’s all the fault of “a small group of long-standing militant activists from the far Left… (running) a big internet campaign that is being run by an organisation that is a front for the Socialist Workers Party.” At one point, the preposterous Grayling even accused the SWP of hacking his email – an allegation he has since had to withdraw.

The claim that the campaign is simply a handful of SWP’ers is repeated in more detail in today’s Sunday Telegraph, which names SWP full-timer Michael Bradley, party member Julie Sherry and Right To Work chairperson Sam James, as key figures.

Now, I have not been personally involved with the present incarnation of the Right To Work Campaign (it’s a relatively recent revival of the original 1970’s campaign), but it’s obvious that it is being largely run, financed and directed by the SWP. You could even, perhaps, call it a “front”:  in principle, what’s wrong with that? In fact, congratulations to them – it’s by far the most useful and progressive activity the SWP has been involved in for many, many years. But I can also guarantee you that people other than SWP’ers are involved, and even the Torygraph acknowledges that the Socialist Party’s Youth Fight For Jobs and the non-aligned UK Uncut are part of the campaign.

Regardless of whether it’s fair to call Right to Work a “front” for the SWP, the dramatic success of the campaign (Tesco, for instance, have now abandoned the unpaid work experience scheme and announced its own programme paying £7 per hour) proves that a determined, well organised campaign focussing on an issue of immediate relevance to working class people, can achieve real results – something we perhaps tend to forget after years of defeats and setbacks.

The identities of hard-left militants orchestrating a campaign to undermine a Government scheme to provide youngsters with work experience can be exposed today.

 Above: SWP / Right To Work activists outside McDonald’s, Oxford Street

Sadly, at yesterday’s Unite Against Fascism (UAF) national conference, the SWP were back to their usual form:

“There has been quite a bit of fuss, including inside the SWP, about the lack of democracy in UAF, and so this year – for the first time since the campaign’s founding in 2003, believe it or not – there were elections for the national committee. However even this small step was largely a formality or, to be blunt, a fake. Rather than a proper open election for a multi-member committee, candidates had to be nominated for a variety of individual positions (chair, vice chair, secretary, assistant secretary, parliamentary officer and so on).

“Obviously this will have discouraged people from standing – and, lo and behold, there was only one candidate for each position. (Many of them were nominated by “Love Music Hate Racism” and “One Society Many Cultures” – “organisations” which decide these things how, exactly?) However this was only achieved by excluding Justin Baidoo, a young socialist and trade unionist from South London wishing to challenge SWP full-timer Martin Smith for assistant secretary, on a technicality. (See here.) The chair of his union branch had sent in the nomination, but failed to send in the reaffiliation form.

“Given this is the first time UAF has held elections, and given there were no other contested elections, you might think something could be done? Wouldn’t it have been positive to have a real election? But no, rules are rules – that is, when they allow the UAF leadership to carve out opponents. I guess it would have been particularly embarrassing for the SWP to have Martin Smith attacked from the left by a young, black socialist. (I should say that Justin chose not to get up on the floor of the conference and demand a vote on his exclusion – which I think was a mistake.)

“Nonetheless, surely the election still went ahead, with participants having the chance to vote for ‘Re-Open Nominations’? Don’t be silly! The ‘candidates’ were simply declared elected. I wondered if some SWPers cringed at this total absence of democracy.”

Read the rest here.

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Workfare and the inside gen on A4e

February 23, 2012 at 2:06 am (class, Human rights, Jim D, Slavery, tesco, Tory scum, workers, youth)

.Tesco protest
Above: Right To Work campaigners shame Tesco into paying Workfare workers more than their JSA…
…meanwhile the government’s “Families Czar” Emma Harrison pays herself £8.6 million,  lives in luxury and her A4e cheap-labour outfit is investigated for fraud.
This excellent site  (obviously written by an insider) follows the activities of A4e with a forensic eye:
Thought we might get a day off, that the furore would be dying down.  But no. First, A4e put out a press release yesterday.  Two things are really exercising them.  The first is that continual reference to 9% outcomes on Pathways to Work.  That wasn’t the figure.  They don’t actually say what the true figure was, but we’ve seen low twenties percent mentioned.  The target, however, was 30%.  The figure isn’t some aspiration, it’s what the bidders promise in order to get the contract.  The best performer on this contract was Jobcentre Plus!  A4e has consistently underperformed, promising 50% outcomes on the 2006 privatised New Deal contracts and delivering around 25%.  Flexible New Deal was even worse.  So while it must be galling to see the error repeated, the fact of poor performance is inescapable.
The second factor is the reporting of the fraud investigation.  A4e states again that the disclosure was the result of their own internal processes and they reported it to the police.  Today that becomes somewhat irrelevant as we learn that four people have been arrested.  (See the BBC report.)  Now, I know nothing about what went on in Slough.  But A4e is one of a number of contractors which pay commission to staff for getting someone into work.  The temptation to fiddle must be that much stronger. Yesterday the Guardian published a long article by John Harris.  Most of it rehashes what has already been published, but he has spoken to Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the PAC.  She became annoyed, she said, when she found that A4e had the contract in her own area but sub-contracted it to a local charity while taking 12.5% of the attachment fee.  Harris points out that this all began under Labour, and she accepts that.  It was a mistake.  Harris is one of the first journalists to see this fuss as part of a wider problem.  “The rise of A4e also highlights a very modern fact of public life: handing over large swaths of what the state used to do to the private sector has become so mundane as to barely attract comment, and some people have been doing very well out of it indeed.”  Now we read on the BBC news site that a London charity, London Citizens, is claiming to be doing much better at getting people into work than the big contractors, and doing it much more cheaply.  And the article says: “There has been increasing scrutiny of work-to-welfare schemes.” That’s what we need, of course.  The current targeting of A4e should be the start of a much wider debate on the role of private profit in public service delivery.

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Judge not a man by his words, but by his actions

March 26, 2007 at 10:44 pm (puritan, tesco, voltairespriest, whiskey, whisky, wild man)

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketYeah, you’ve all heard about Jim Denham. The hard drinking ladies’ man, the revolutionary, the man who would roar his defiance at a battalion of Chetniks charging at him with bayonets fastened.

But present him with an old lady and a petition trying to ban Tesco’s from selling booze, and he melts like a spun sugar sculpture in an oven. You may recall that Jim rather shame-facedly mentioned his capitulation before said old lady when she presented him with a Tory-inspired petition to stop (horror of horrors) his putative local supermarket from selling intoxicating beverages. “Of course it won’t mean anything, Volty”, he assured me.

And yet, today we learned that he and his band of Tory/Temperance brothers have won, and the sacred dryness of his local area will be maintained. Nice one, Jim!

Ah well, I guess he has to suffer the consequences of his actions – it’s like a half hour walk to his local offie.

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