Irish anarchist interviewed about the 1970s and 80s (part 1)

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Belfast Anarchist banner at a Peoples Democracy march (1969?)

Belfast Anarchist banner at a Peoples Democracy march (1969?)

As a teenager Alan MacSimoin joined the Official Republican Movement but soon moved towards anarchism, later being a founder member of the Workers Solidarity Movement.

In this interview filmed in October 2014 he talks about republican debates about militarism and mass politics, the Northern Ireland civil rights movement, the Peoples Democracy march from Belfast to Dublin, the successful anti-nuclear campaign of the late 1970s and the Dunnes Stores anti-apartheid strike of the mid-1980s.

The man beside Alan on the picket at Dunnes Stores in Dublin's Henry Street is fellow WSM member Eddie Conlon,  later Honorary Secretary of the Teachers Union of Ireland.

The man beside Alan is fellow WSM member Eddie Conlon, later Honorary Secretary of the Teachers Union of Ireland.

The interview was conducted by the Irish Republican and Marxist History Project, and is at


Radical politics in late 1960s/early 1970s Ireland

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As part of his work to preserve the history and memories of Irish left and left republican movements, Mick Healy is hosting a public meeting in Dublin on September 12th.

Alan MacSimoin of the Irish Anarchist History Archive will talk about the group of Official Republicans who moved towards anarchism in the early 1970s, the case of Marie & Noel Murray, and the Dublin left of that period.


Sacco & Vanzetti – the Irish connection

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In 1920, the anarchist Italian immigrants Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were sentenced to death in the USA, falsely accused of a robbery and murder.  This was a time when the ruling class had been given a fright by the Russian revolution, and they tried to break the growing socialist, anarchist and trade union movements.

Smithfield Square

Smithfield Square

Sacco & Vanzetti were convicted of murdering two men during the armed robbery of a shoe factory in Massachusetts in 1920. Among the members of the Defence Committee in Boston was Mary Donovan, who had been a Sinn Féin organizer.  Among those in Ireland who took up their case was George Bernard Shaw.

After a controversial trial, a series of appeals, and a large but ultimately unsuccessful international campaign to free them, the two were executed on August 23, 1927.

In 1977, Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis issued a proclamation that Sacco and Vanzetti had been unfairly tried and convicted and that “any disgrace should be forever removed from their names”.

North King Street

North King Street

In 1971 Sacco & Vanzetti, an Italian language feature film (with English subtitles) was made, with much of the filming in Dublin.  Among those appearing were Irish actors Cyril Cusack and Milo O’Shea.  The soundtrack was by Ennio Morricone, who also composed the music for spaghetti westerns like The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, and A Fistful of Dollars.

British anarchists and Ireland in the 1970s

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Coalitions, Libertarian Communism and Ireland

How did British libertarian communists understand the conflict in the north of Ireland, and face up to events there? Did they support specific campaigns for withdrawing British troops out of Ireland?

This article deals with the debate within the British Anarchist Workers Association in 1976, which brought forward views ranging from the belief that the national question had to be solved before socialism came onto the agenda, right through to doubts that imperialism was still a reality in a world of globalised capital.

This paper was given by Tony Zurbrugg at a conference on the life and work of the French anarchist Daniel Guerin.  It was held in Loughborough, England, in 2004

click here to download

Anarchists stop theft of strikers’ money (1979)

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As reported on the cover of the Anarchist Worker below, the gardai tried to seize money collected for the McDonalds strike fund as the AWA had no permit for a street collection.  Refusing to hand over the buckets of cash, the AWA members were quickly joined by a large group of fellow trade unionists and the cops backed off after taking a couple of names.

£200.04 was delivered to the union office the following day.  (This would be roughly €1,200 at 2012 values)