Barricade Bulletin (2016)

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BB 2016click here to download

August 2016 saw the first issue of a four page Barricade Bulletin from Derry Anarchists (an initiative of the local Workers Solidarity Movement branch).  It is “our intention to issue this free news sheet every two months locally to help generate anarchist info and knowledge of class struggle anarchism to a wider audience beyond the boundaries and limitations of the internet”.

Articles include an interview with one of their own members about how he became an anarchist, and a cover story about the ‘internment by remand’ of dissident republicans like Tony Taylor and the jailing of the Craigavon Two, whose case is “an obvious miscarriage of justice not witnessed since the Birmingham Six and Guildford Four”.

BB 1969click here to download

There was another Barricade Bulletin published from “Free Derry” in 1969.   The Northern Ireland Labour Party was a lethargic and liberal unionist party which died from irrelevance by the end of the 1970s.   However in the late 1960s Derry had a lively and militant branch, involving much of the city’s left, and they were the publishers of this.  Among those involved were Mickey Divine, who joined the INLA and died in the 1981 hunger strike; Eamon McCann, now a People Before Profit MLA in the Northern Ireland Assembly; and veteran feminist and journalist Nell McCafferty.

The Irish Trade Union Defence Committee (1966)

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IM march

IM Walsh

The Irish Militant of September 1966 reported on a march of the Irish Trade Union Defence Committee to the Irish embassy in London.  Among the banners listed as present were those of anarchists, and the chair of the rally was Mike Walsh of the London Federation of Anarchists.

The photograph shows Saor Eire activist Frank Keane carrying the Irish tricolour and Dublin republican Eamonn Nolan carrying the Starry Plough.  Behind Keane is Butch Roche who threw a canister of CS gas into the House of Commons in 1970, after the British army had fired thousands of rounds of CS into the Bogside area of Derry, and the Lower Falls in Belfast.

IM cover 1click here to dowload

This paper was published by the Irish Workers Group, a 1960s London-based group of Irish emigrants, which brought together disaffected left republicans and Trotskyists.

Members of the IWG later influential in the Irish left include SWP member and Derry MLA Eamonn McCann, and former Peoples Democracy leader Michael Farrell.  Paddy and Seamus Healy were also involved, later setting up the League for a Workers Republic in Ireland.  Today Seamus is an independent TD for Tipperary.

 

You can find copies of the Irish Militant at Red Mole Rising

and more information about Saor Eire at the Irish Republican & Marxist History Project

Anarcho-Syndicalism in Ireland 1984 – 2016

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Anarcho-syndicalism might be said to have arrived in Ireland in the mid-1980s when it was adopted by the Ballymena Anarchist Group.  There had been individual anarcho-syndicalists active in their trade unions previously, including some Dublin supporters of the (British) Syndicalist Workers Federation in the 1960s, but this was it’s first public appearance.

The past three decades can give an impression of there having been numerous shortlived groupings.  The reality is that, despite many changes of it’s name and that of it’s publications, there is a continuity of politics and members.  Essentially, we are seeing different phases in the development of the one organisation.

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Membership was initially based on Antrim town and Ballymena.  By the late 1980s Belfast had more members and it has remained like that since.  Membership has been almost totally north of the border, with just the occasional member in Cork, Kildare and Dublin.

 

1984

saw the creation of Ballymena and Antrim Anarchist Groups. The Ballymena group, some of whom had previously been in the Young Socialists, was in existence for several months before the Antrim group and published two issues of Black Star.  Both groups then went on to jointly publish six issues the Antrim Alternative, with a circulation of 300-500.

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1985 – 1989

The Antrim Alternative was succeeded by an explicitly syndicalist magazine, Organise! the Voice of Anarcho-Syndicalism.  By late 1986 the Ballymena and Antrim Anarchist Groups had changed their name to Organise!  

Organise 5 coverClick here to download

1991 

Belfast Class Struggle Anarchist Group – Initially influenced by the British Class War, this small group from the (loyalist) New Mossley and Rathcoole estates, found their definition of working class too narrow.  A couple of those involved went on to contact Organise! and were involved in that group’s re-emergence.  While still sympathetic to anarcho-syndicalism, it initially described itself as “class struggle anarchist”.

Organise - where we stand 1991Click here to download

1991- 1999

Organise! – IWA  (publication: Rebel Worker). In this period Organise! again became specifically anarcho-syndicalist and the name of the bulletin, for a time a magazine, reverted to Organise – the voice of anarcho-syndicalism.  In 1996 Organise! affiliated to the International Workers Association as it’s Irish section.  By 1999, with a much reduced membership, it found sustaining local activity and their involvement in the IWA increasingly difficult to maintain, and decided to disband.

Rebel Worker 4 coverClick here to download

 

Organise 2:8 coverClick here to download

1999 – 2001

After the dissolution of Organise!-IWA a series of discussions were held by anarcho-syndicalists under the banner of the Syndicalist Solidarity Network.  Those involved created the Anarcho-Synicalist Federation shortly afterwards.  The SSN produced a single issue of Solidarity Magazine.  They also produced the Belfast Solidarity Bulletin.

 Solidarity mag cover Click here to download

 

2001 – 2003

The name changed to Organise! – Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation and they continued to produce the Belfast Solidarity Bulletin.  They also put out 2 issues of Wildcat, a joint bulletin of Organise! and the tiny Anarchist Federation (Ireland).  The AF(I) was very closely connected to the (British) Anarchist Federation.

Resistance 10Click here to download

In it’s brief life, the AF(I) -with a scattering of members in Kildare, Dublin, Warrenpoint and Belfast – produced 10 issues of Resistance, before merging into Organise!

 

2003 – 2012

In 2003 it was announced that “after successful discussions, the Anarcho-Syndicalist Federation, Anarchist Federation (Ireland), Anarchist Prisoner Support and a number of individuals merged to relaunch Organise!”   Published Working Class Resistance,

WSR10 coverClick here to download

then The Leveller.

Leveller 6 coverClick here to download

This version of Organise! initially attempted to build a broader class struggle anarchist federation becoming specifically syndicalist again, probably by 2005.

 

2012 -2015

The organisation decided to join the British section of the IWA, the Solidarity Federation, as it’s Belfast branch.  Members of Organise! in other parts of Ireland were attached to the Belfast branch.

At the 2013 conference of the Solidarity Federation Belfast was formally admitted and its constitution changed so that it was now the IWA section for Britain and Ireland.  Irish members reserved the option of forming an independent IWA section in Ireland in the future.  Organise! remains the name of the SolidarityFederation (Ireland region). Currently this consists of the Belfast branch, along with members in Lisburn and Portadown.

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In April 2016 they opened an office/meeting room/library at 22 Berry Street in Belfast city centre.

The impact of the Spanish Civil War on Captain J.R. White

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The 2015 issue of Saothar, the journal of the Irish Labour History Society, features new research by David Convery into Jack White‘s move to anarchism in the mid-1930s.

Although a member of the Communist Party when he arrived in Spain, he was already in contact with prominent anarchists like Augustin Souchy, and was writing for the CNT‘s English-language bulletin.  Convery sees the fact that White did not make the final break with the CP until mid-January 1937 as demonstrating “a process of thought over a number of months, rather than a sudden realisation upon his arrival in Catalonia that he was an anarchist all along”.

Saothar40-226x322px

click here to download

This article also looks at White’s allegation, and provides good grounds for it, that the CP in London sabotaged the sending of a medical unit to Spain because he was to be in command of it.  Additionally it looks at White’s view of Catholicism (he wasn’t a fan!), and at his collaboration with Emma Goldman in the London-based CNT-FAI Defence Committee.

JW

A 3D quality badge of Captain Jack White, co-founder of the Irish Citizen Army and Presbyterian Republican from Broughshane in Co Antrim.  Available from Calton Books

 

If this writer has one small criticism, there is a line the article would be better without, or at least more clearly expressed:

It is true that for much of his life, White’s disposition fitted many of the characteristics of an anarchist; but it also fitted the characteristics of a socialist. (page 52)

Since its foundation in the First International the anarchist movement has always been a branch of the broad socialist movement, often referred to as libertarian socialism or anarchist-communism.

‘Scattered internationalists: Irish anarchism in the interwar world.’

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pat

Frank Barcena and Irish-American anarchist Pat Read with the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain

 

The Irish Centre for the Histories of Labour & Class held a conference on November 13th/14th, 2015 to mark the centenary of the birth of Dr Noel Browne.

Among the contributors was Morris Brodie of Queens University Belfast whose paper, ‘Scattered internationalists: Irish anarchism in the interwar world’, looked at the part played by Irish emigrants in the 1920s & 1930s anarchist movement in Britain and the USA; and at the almost forgotten Irish who fought with anarchist columns in the Spanish Civil War.

This link will bring you to the conference web site and Brodie’s talk begins 22.30 on the audio file for Panel 5 – Ireland and the International Left

The other papers in that panel are David Convery (NUIG) – ‘John Wheatley: Irish-born Minister of Health in Britain’s First Labour Government’ and Liam O’Discin (UCD) – ‘Catholics, Communists and Steelworkers, 1936-1948.’

 

Anarchist newspapers sold by a Dublin newsagent in 1916

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A guest post from Sam of the excellent Come Here To Me blog

After nearly 130 years of production, the anarchist newspaper Freedom moved its operations online last year.  Sadly unable to sustain a regular printed publication in this era, the East London-based Freedom Press now publishes its news and opinions on the web accompanied by a quarterly freesheet and a monthly email digest.  From 1886 to 2014, it was the stalwart organ of the English-speaking anarchist movement and could boast of links with some of the world’s foremost anarchist thinkers including Peter KropokinMarie-Louise Berneri and Colin Ward.

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While reading a copy of Freedom (sub-titled the “Journal of Anarchist Communism”) from March 1916 on the Libcom website, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that along with major cities like London, Manchester, Glasgow and smaller ones such as Plymouth, Yeovil and Falkirk – names and addresses of Freedom newspaper sellers are listed for Dublin and Belfast.

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They were:

“Belfast – W. Robinson, 167 York Street

Dublin – J.C. Kearney, 59 Upper Stephen Street”

Jospeh C. Kearney (c. 1887 to 1946) was a bookseller and stationer who lived above his shop at 59 Upper Stephen Street his whole life. There are a small number of fleeting references to him and his family online. I think it could be assumed that he had some sympathy to socialist or anarchist politics he was happy to both stock Freedom and let the newspaper publicly advertise the fact.

In 1901, Joseph C. Kearney (14) was living at home with his widow mother Lilly Kearney (38) nee Walsh and two younger brothers Thomas (11) and Alfred (10). Lily was a tobacconist and employed an assistant, Mary Callaghan (19) from Cork, in the shop downstairs. Obviously reasonably financially well off, the family also enjoyed the services of a servant Ellen Byrne (16) from Carlow.

On the first anniversary of her death, a notice was put into The Freeman’s Journal (4 December 1891) in memory of a Mrs Anne Walsh of 59 Upper Stephen Street . I suspect this was Lilly’s mother.

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The Kearney family put an advertisement in the Freeman’s Journal (8 March 1902) looking for a “respectable, strong, young country girl” to work as a general servant. They inserted similar notices in 1904 and 1911. The family were decidedly middle-class.

By 1911, Lily (50) had re-married a Royal Dublin Fusiliers Army Pensioner by the name of Vincent Walter (60). Her three sons Joseph (24), Thomas (22) and Alfred (20) all still lived at home with her and listed their profession as “News agent shop men”. Lily’s brother Alfred Walsh (52), an “Engine Fitter”, and a cousin Louie Wilson (16), a “Drapers Shop Assistant” from Liverpool also lived in the house at that time.

In August 1918, Joseph C. Kearney was fined after his wife Louisa Kearney illegally sold matches to a customer. It was the first prosecution, according to the Irish Examiner (28 August 1918), under a new act which “provided that matches must be sold in boxes and not in bundles under any circumstances”.

On 23 February 1922, a notice was put into the Irish Independent by Lily Kearney-Walter who then living in California, San Francisco to mark the 5th anniversary of the death of her brother Alfred. Lily obviously moved back home as she died in Harold’s Cross Hospice on 6 June 1924. The notice in the Irish Independent (9 June 1924) mentioned her late husband V.B. Walter was late of the SMRASC which I think stood for Service Member (?) Royal Army Service Corps.

Kearney had another brush with the law but this time for more interesting reasons than selling matches. In April 1928, Joseph C. Kearney was found guilty and fined a total of £60 for selling two “obscene” publications entitled “Family Limitation” and “The Married Women’s Guide”. It could be concluded from this that Kearney was still politically inclined.

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In court, the state prosecutor Carrigan was quoted in the Irish Times (20 April 1928) as saying:

“The theories contained in the publications might find support in England or in large communities, but in a comparatively small community, like that in Ireland, he did not think that they would find favour, not that the Irish were superior people, but they, happily, were more old-fashioned than were people elsewhere. The public good in Ireland would not be served by the circulation of these books.”

Joseph C. Kearney tragically lost his wife and two children in the 1920s and 1930s.

His wife Louisa Kearney died on 8th October 1923. Emily Lousia, his second daughter, passed away on 10 March 1939 aged 22 and was buried in Glasnevin cemetery. His youngest son Vincent Joseph Kearney died on 24th February 1936 aged 15 after a short illness.

Joseph C Kearney himself died on 29 January 1946 and was buried in Glasnevin with his family.

After his death, the newsagent at 59 Upper Stephen Street was taken over  by a P. Smyth. This house and that whole row at the corner of Upper Stephen Street and South Great George’s Street was demolished and replaced by a modern office block (Dunnes Stores head office) in 2007.

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Pat Read – another Irish anarchist who fought fascism in Spain

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Sean Cronin’s* article from the Irish Times in 1969 about Irish-Americans and the Industrial Workers of the World mentions Pat Read, “an Irish born rebel who fought with the Anarchists in Spain”.  Thanks to Sam McGrath for passing this on.

Read extract

Click here to download the full article

More recently Ciaran Crossey has written about Read for the Ireland and the Spanish Civil War site.  He has also authored a pamphlet, Pat Read – An Irish anarchist in the SCW.

Below is his obituary from the Industrial Worker, Nov. 22nd 1947.

Patrick J Read, former editor of the Industrial Worker, dies

Patrick J Read, former editor of the Industrial Worker, life-long battler for bona fide unionism, died Sunday morning, Nov. 16, of cerebral haemorrhage, in a Chicago hospital. His fellow workers arranged for an IWW funeral the following Tuesday.

Pat Read joined the fight against exploitation in his boyhood. He has carried on that battle in many lands. In Ireland, off whose coast he was born half a century ago; in England, in France, in Spain, in Canada, as well as in these United States. A staunch supporter of the militant struggles of James Connolly in Ireland, he carried that philosophy with him wherever he went, and did his utmost to put it into action. He was associated with the most militant syndicalists of France, proud of his membership on the CNT while fighting Franco during the Spanish Civil war, as he was proud these many years of his little red card in the IWW.

During the First World War he married while in France, but his wife died and his son was killed during WW2. He is survived by his friends and fellow workers, and by a working class whose eyes he laboured diligently to open.

Pat Reid in Spain

Pat Reid in Spain

Read was a fighter intellectually and physically. He stopped more than one of Franco’s mercenaries from further murder, and left his mark on the scabs of more than one big strike. Gifted with a warm heart, a keen mind and a caustic tongue, he lashed at the humbug and hokum of labor fakirs and politicians; at the futile reformer and the labor-shacking ‘do-gooder’.

For various reasons writing under various names he contributed much too the analysis of the labor movement. His approach was predominantly the psychology of what makes it tick – and what stops it from ticking. For many years he was endeavouring from his approach to make a complete analysis of unionism. Some of this material was run up as “The ABC if unionism”, a study of the fervour and fife that goes into the building of a union, and of the processes whereby in too many instances it has degenerated into the drabness of a labor brokerage. His more serious analyses received the limited attention such hard work usually receives; the lash of his irony is best known through an incidental piece of writing that has been reprinted many times and translated into many languages, a letter ‘Chicago Replies to Moscow’ in which he told off the Commies as they have never been told off before….or since.

The thinking of the labor movement is richer, and the fires of revolt burn the brighter, because Pat Read lived and wrote and fought.

*Cronin was a member of the IRA, and its Chief of Staff in the late 1950s.  After the failure of the IRA’s border campaign (1956-1962) he was among those republicans who moved sharply to the left.

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