Irish history

Rendezvous in Northern Ireland?

Martin McGuinness shaking the Queen's hand offended socialists because of our contempt for the institution of monarchy but his motive at least was progressive, and also republican in the sense defined by the founder of modern Irish republicanism Wolfe Tone — “to replace the name Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter with the common name Irishman”.

In a hugely symbolic moment on 27 June, during a royal visit to Northern Ireland to mark her jubilee, the former commander of the IRA shook hands with the Queen.

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An Irish Trotskyist Programme for Irish Unity (1948)

This leaflet was produced by the Irish Trotskyists of the Revolutionary Socialist Party in 1948. A section of the Cannon-Pablo-Mandel Fourth International, the RSP had adopted the politics of the Workers Party USA, the Shachtman organisation. The “coalition” referred to is the Dublin government formed after the the February 1948 election in the 26 Counties by Fine Gael, the Labour Party, Clann na Poblachta, Clann na Talmhan and the National Labour Party. It replaced De Valera's Fianna Fail, which had been in office since 1932.


Fine Gael takes hostages

This leaflet was produced by the Irish Trotskyists of the Revolutionary Socialist Party in 1948. A section of the Cannon-Pablo-Mandel Fourth International, the RSP had adopted the politics of the Workers Party USA, the Shachtman organisation.

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The DUP: the really nasty party

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Micheál MacEoin

The Conservative Party’s loss of their parliamentary majority has left Theresa May reliant on Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), a hard-right organisation which has 10 MPs in the House of Commons. So who are the Tories’ new unionist bedfellows?

The DUP has its roots in a politicised form of evangelical Protestantism which arose again in the 1950s and 60s, but has a long tradition in the Protestant areas of Ulster.

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The limits of Labour’s multilateralism

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Clive Bradley

There has been some recent media attention on Jeremy Corbyn’s alleged past links to the IRA and the claim that he is a “pacifist” — meaning, he is opposed to any and every kind of military intervention, even around “humanitarian” issues.

There is certainly much to support in Labour’s manifesto commitments on foreign policy, but the broad sweep of it is pretty “mainstream” — multilateralist, favouring diplomacy over armed intervention, with some commitments to the rights of immigrants.

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Notes on early Irish history

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Sean Matgamna

Ireland has a singular history. Unlike England, it was never part of the Roman Empire. There was trade with the Roman Empire most importantly with Roman England, and Ireland was culturally influenced by the Roman Empire. For instance, a Roman script replaced the primitive and clumsy Ogham script. In the period of the final decline of Rome, the Irish joined the other barbarians in raiding Roman and immediately post-Roman England for loot, including slaves. Among those slaves was, famously, the future Saint Patrick.

How Ireland became "Irish"

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The story of Martin McGuinness

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Sean Matgamna

The young Martin McGuinness was a typical Catholic boy who grew up in the six north-east counties of Ireland, in the Protestant-sectarian backyard of the British state, the "Protestant sub-state for a Protestant people".

McGuinness had talent and he had guts. What he didn't have was a strategy that could win a united Ireland.

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Martin McGuinness

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Gerry Bates

Martin McGuinness became a revolutionary, by his own lights, as a teenager, and ended his life as a bourgeois minister in a political system he had vowed to shun. He died on 21 March, only a couple of months after resigning as Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland.

The underpinnings of Irish national-communal division, the poisonous Partition structures which Martin McGuinness, who has died aged 66, set out to fight remain entrenched.

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Connolly and the Easter Rising

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Michael Johnson

The final part of Michael Johnson’s series on the life and politics of James Connolly. The rest of the series can be found here.

The final part of Michael Johnson’s series on the life and politics of James Connolly.

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Connolly and the First World War

Part 11 of Michael Johnson’s series on the life and politics of James Connolly. The rest of the series can be found here.


In March 1914, Asquith made his new and final proposal on Home Rule, putting forward a scheme whereby the Ulster counties could exclude themselves from the new Irish constitution. It was supposed to be a temporary exclusion, for six years, but a general election in the interim delivering a Tory majority could make it permanent.

Part 11 of Michael Johnson’s series on the life and politics of James Connolly.

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