Ireland: a century of counterrevolution
17th - 19th October 2021
The Irish revolution of 1916 and the war of independence were followed by partition and a sweeping counterrevolution. The counterrevolution extended well beyond the unionists and the forces active then continue to triumph today.
Chris Patton is longstanding socialist and Trade Unionist, activist in UNITE and editor of the Socialist Democracy Website.
Homelessness, sky-high rents, exclusion from housing. These all relate to Ireland's position as a client economy ruled in the interests of the banks, transnationals and the ECB. Housing is a commodity and used to attract capital inflow from vulture and Cuckoo funds, aided by local REITs. The antidote to this financial plague is mass public housing.
Brian Leeson is a leading member of the socialist republican group Eirigi. He and his group are to the fore in the housing action movement and have produced sterling work documenting the financial interests of the Vulture funds and of their local collaborators.
Conor McCabe is author of Sins of the Father: Tracing the Decisions that Shaped the Irish Economy, and a research fellow at the UCD School of Social Justice.
Last year a flood of Irish NGOs, including the Irish section of Amnesty International, launched a savage attack on new Irish feminist and LGB organisations. They denounced them as foreign agents and called for them to be excluded from the media and from political discourse because of gender critical views in relation to some aspects of gender identity ideology. For these critics, defending people who identify as Transgender from physical attack and discrimination is not enough. Questioning the metaphysical idea that sex is an internal feeling rather than a biological reality is seen as bigotry. Yet to go along means rejecting objective reality and wipes out the distinct category of woman making it impossible to defend women's rights, constantly under attack in Ireland. More generally it prevents rational debate and leaves the door open to a culture of intimidation and exclusion that alienates many and prevents the sort of political discussions workers movements must have to move forward.
Orla Ni Chomhrai is a long standing socialist and feminist activist. She has spoken and written extensively on this issue.
The prospect of a left government in Dublin is certainly very exciting. Interest pales slightly when we find that the conversation is actually about Sinn Fein in a coalition government. Alliance with smaller parties is supposed to make it left, but in private most leftists admit that the most likely combination is with a section of Fianna Fáil. Apparently this would still be progressive because of voters expectations. Left out of the conversation is the history of coalition in Ireland, the recent history of attempts at left government across Europe, the history and politics of Sinn Fein and their role in administration in the North. The left government suggestion is driven by an increased reformism and parliamentarianism in the socialist groups. The alternative is popular mobilisation, driven by recognition of economic dependence on imperialism and the collaborationist role of local capitalism.
John McAnulty is a founder member of the '68 group Peoples Democracy and currently a member of Socialist Democracy. He has been a political activist over 50 years and written extensively on the class struggle in Ireland.