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Correspondence: Republican regroupment – John McAnulty gets it in the neck!

17 October 2007

Recently we carried a report by John McAnulty on a debate on republican regroupment in Belfast (see:  The IRSP took umbrage and laid into Cde. McAnulty.  Below we carry their comments and John’s response.

The Plough responds.

Comrade McAnulty fails to recognise that the Alternatives Processes was organised by the RYSM and was specifically geared towards the youth wings of political organisations. Perhaps John should have realised this when he saw that the “supporters were young, working class, enthusiastic and with a very serious approach to the discussion.”

As regards the accusation of “political insecurity” by inviting the youth wings of the SDLP and the ILP this is just hot air. Does John think one should only invite those who we agree with?  In that case there would be few at the meeting. And as it was geared towards young people does John not think that exposure to different ideas could only help clarify and lead to questioning?

The absence of other republicans cannot be held at the door of the organisers and as for fragmentation leading towards “unclarity” and “uncertainty” perhaps John should consider the history of Sinn Fein (provisional). For many years it was an organisation united and strong and its only rivals in republican terms were the IRSP. Yet its politics, surely the critical issue, were a mish mash of nationalism, popularism, sectarianism and vague leftist leanings. 

Fragmentation has actually helped raise the level of debate about the way forward for those who still consider themselves anti- imperialist.

Debates and meetings are one way to help rebuild the anti-imperialist movement. Perhaps Socialist Democracy should follow the example set by the RSYM and lobby for or actually organise “ A regroupment of republicans and socialists (which) would consist of patient political discussion and attempts at joint activity leading to a common programme.”

John replies:

I must say I am rather unhappy with a ‘cut and paste’ approach which enables the writer to ignore the majority of points I made and adopt a hostile and carping approach to my article.

The article was a critique, rather similar to an earlier critique that I made of the recent republican conference in Derry.  A critique is not a criticism.  Socialist Democracy are not hostile to republican regroupment and in fact we believe that a successful political regroupment would transform the situation.  What we have to offer to the discussion is the observations that a new movement will have to overcome the fragmentation of the republicans, will have to have a programme of supporting the working class and exposing the contradictions in the current settlement and, above all, will have to explain the total and absolute collapse of republicanism that the current settlement represents.

Instead of a response we get an attack.  More significantly, although the main agreement in the meeting was to hold further meetings, our name seems to have been left off the invitation list.  When we send around notice of our own upcoming school and the opportunity for discussion that it represents the Plough, that routinely prints all that arrives, fails to print our notice nor does any member of the IRSP sign up to attend.

I note in passing that it was not I who initially objected to the SDLP and LP presence, but members of the audience.  On the evidence so far, the reformist parties are to get more of a hearing than a revolutionary socialist current such as ourselves.


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