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Thread: "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

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    Default "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

    This book is clearly an important contribution to the understanding of recent Irish history, but is controversial. It was published last year, but is being discussed at the moment as it (along with "The Lost Revolution") was the subject of a public meeting and debate last night in Dublin.

    The book has been reviewed by Anthony Coughlan, whose own role is discussed in the book, on Indymedia.

    This is an important book on Irish republican and leftwing politics in the 1960s, on the background to the destruction of Ulster Unionist political hegemony by the Northern civil rights movement of that decade, and the formation of the Provisional IRA.

    Dr Treacy gives us much new information on a relatively neglected period. His book will be a significant source for those seeking to understand the explosion caused by the Partition of Ireland half a century after David Lloyd George’s Government of Ireland Act sundered Ireland into two parts in 1920.

    Unfortunately it will not be the definitive work on its subject. This is because Dr Treacy seems somewhat divided over what one might call “the conspiracy thesis” which has been subscribed to by sundry previous writers on this topic. This is that there was an attempt at some form of communist takeover-bid of the 1960s Republican Movement which contributed significantly to the 1970 split which gave rise to the Provisional IRA.
    http://www.indymedia.ie/article/99779

    Anthony Coughlan surprises me by saying that the Communist Party in Britain and Ireland did not want the Irish Republican movement to move to socialism. While it seems to me that there will inevitably be right wing nationalists as well as left wing ones, that it was worth contesting the political ground to win the movement as far as possible as far to the left as could be achieved, and to win new members from the movement.

    But I will have to read the book, as well as Anthony Coughlan's interesting review, to get a fuller understanding of what happened, and why.
    The fact of the matter is that there was no such conspiracy or attempted takeover-bid of Republicanism by people in the communist movement. The persons mentioned did not act in unison. As independent individuals acting on their own behalf they welcomed the moves by the IRA and Sinn Fein leadership to “go political” and move away from militarism in the 1960s, as people all over Ireland did at the time, but they had no desire whatever to see the Republican Movement take up “socialism” or Marxism. In so far as they shared a common view of the Republican Movement they wanted the IRA and Sinn Fein to stick to Republicanism, but a political Republicanism, and to stick to civil rights in Northern Ireland when the campaign for these developed there post-1967
    Coughlan's review includes and invaluable account from his personal perspective and knowledge of the political and organisational splits within Irish Republicanism of the 1970s, that have had enduring, deep political consequences and have shaped the Irish politics of today.
    Last edited by C. Flower; 27-06-2012 at 09:42 AM.

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    Default Re: The IRA in the 1960s in the Irish Republic by Matt Treacy

    Roy Johnston would be very interesting on this topic, even though he was more recently in the Green party.

    If anyone knows about this Roy should, so keep an eye out for anything by him.

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    Default Re: The IRA in the 1960s in the Irish Republic by Matt Treacy

    I'm told it was a fairly heated meeting in Dublin last night. All the players or representatives of the various currents were in attendence and it seems to have been quite the ding dong. Treacy's "history" appears to be significantly inspired by a virulently anti-communist outlook (which given his current position in Sinn Fein says alot about their direction) and the CPI people were not having it.

    The historian Brian Hanley (the other speaker at the meeting - author of The Lost Revolution) it appears gave a measured contribution which significantly undermined the conspiracy theory approach which Treacy appears to have embraced to some degree.
    Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the (female dog) that bore him is in heat again. Bertolt Brecht

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    Default Re: "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

    Here's audio of last nights talk.

    http://www.irishleftreview.org/2012/...treacy-260612/

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    Default Re: "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Summerday Sands View Post
    Thanks.

    I've been thinking about Seamus Costello in regard to the debate. He would have been a significant figure in the Republican Movement in the 1960s. While Costello was clearly a revolutionary socialist it has difficult to see what his politics would really have in common with Roy Johnston, Anthony Coughlan, or the CPGB for that matter. Costello would have looked back to James Connolly. His politics can only be located in the republican socialist tradition that continued on from Connolly's time from him, through the Republican Congress, the republicans who fought alongside the communists in Spain, and so forth.

    The more I think about Matt Treacy's work the more it strikes me as being something that is just not historically incorrect but downright insidious and is designed to present socialist thought as something alien to republicanism and possibly even to Ireland itself. Something that could have only been introduced by outside infiltrators.

    I'm wondering what Sinn Fein activists (if there are any left) who would still avow some allegiance to the socialist republic make of this stuff coming from someone of influence in the party.
    Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the (female dog) that bore him is in heat again. Bertolt Brecht

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    Default Re: "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Summerday Sands View Post
    Thanks Summerday Sands... ....that was a great listen.
    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, misdiagnosing it, and then misapplying the wrong remedies.”

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    Default Re: "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

    Sam, Treacy's thesis on which his book is based earned him a Doctorate!

    Nowhere does he suggest that left wing thought is alien to republicanism. What he did correctly point to was the influence of CP members on Goulding. That was disputed and made the subject of a threatened legal action to stop his book by Coughlan. Treacy subsequently discovered evidence that both Coughlan and Johnston were members of the Party in the 1960s so there clearly was subterfuge at work and the point made by the Provos in 1969 about CP influence and technically 'infiltration' was correct. No amount of bluster and lies obscures that. Hanley by the way has clearly aligned himslef with one side on this issue.

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    Default Re: "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Phelan View Post
    Sam, Treacy's thesis on which his book is based earned him a Doctorate!

    Nowhere does he suggest that left wing thought is alien to republicanism. What he did correctly point to was the influence of CP members on Goulding. That was disputed and made the subject of a threatened legal action to stop his book by Coughlan. Treacy subsequently discovered evidence that both Coughlan and Johnston were members of the Party in the 1960s so there clearly was subterfuge at work and the point made by the Provos in 1969 about CP influence and technically 'infiltration' was correct. No amount of bluster and lies obscures that. Hanley by the way has clearly aligned himslef with one side on this issue.
    I haven't read the book yet, but have just been listening to the recording with great interest.

    The 1960s were generally a period in which the world swung left, and in favour of national liberation of smaller/weaker nations, and the two movements often overlapped.

    The word "infiltration" is highly loaded. For someone to be considered an infiltrator, I would consider that they would have to be putting on a pretence at agreement with the aims of an organisation, while joining it in order to disrupt, or carry out otherwise malign purposes. I would not consider it to be infiltration if someone joins an organisation to support it, while bringing with them their own politics.

    Which do you think was the case ?

    A doctorate would imply properly supervised research and a lot of hard work. But in itself it doesn't mean the content is unquestionable. We have seen a doctorate awarded to a person one of whose interviewees was dead at the time of the purported interview. Supervisors can only do so much.

    Welcome to the forum, by the way

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    Default Re: "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

    If two people were members of the Irish communist party (IWP) which they denied and still deny despite the evidence, and were at the same time either leading members of or influences on the IRA Army Council whose Constitution had a ban on members of the CP,then they were infiltrators.

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    Default Re: "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Phelan View Post
    If two people were members of the Irish communist party (IWP) which they denied and still deny despite the evidence, and were at the same time either leading members of or influences on the IRA Army Council whose Constitution had a ban on members of the CP,then they were infiltrators.
    Ah, the ban is news to me, albeit interesting.

    I've read some of the discussion on this issue, but not so completely as to say I've formed a firm view on this.

    It does seem a bit inconsistent to me for an organisation that wrote to the Bolsheviks and to the Chinese CP looking for assistance to ban CP members from providing assistance.

    I look forward to reading the book.

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    Default Re: "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Phelan View Post
    If two people were members of the Irish communist party (IWP) which they denied and still deny despite the evidence, and were at the same time either leading members of or influences on the IRA Army Council whose Constitution had a ban on members of the CP,then they were infiltrators.
    Lol. We all know what it said on paper and we all know what helped sustain the IRA through many lean decades.

    Coughlan and Johnston were just two individuals trying to find a progressive way forward politically in the 1960's. They were doing their own thing and were not sent anywhere by anyone to infiltrate anything. To think otherwise is just to have the most backward Mccarthyite mindset. Unfortunately, this is being embraced by what passes for intellectuals in SF today.
    Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the (female dog) that bore him is in heat again. Bertolt Brecht

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    Default Re: "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

    Quote Originally Posted by C. Flower View Post
    Ah, the ban is news to me, albeit interesting.

    I've read some of the discussion on this issue, but not so completely as to say I've formed a firm view on this.

    It does seem a bit inconsistent to me for an organisation that wrote to the Bolsheviks and to the Chinese CP looking for assistance to ban CP members from providing assistance.

    I look forward to reading the book.


    The reason the IRA banned CP members was because the CP had infiltrated the IRA on several occassions. Ban was only lifted by Provos in the late 80s.

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    Default Re: "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Sam Lord View Post
    Lol. We all know what it said on paper and we all know what helped sustain the IRA through many lean decades.

    Coughlan and Johnston were just two individuals trying to find a progressive way forward politically in the 1960's. They were doing their own thing and were not sent anywhere by anyone to infiltrate anything. To think otherwise is just to have the most backward Mccarthyite mindset. Unfortunately, this is being embraced by what passes for intellectuals in SF today.




    So they were members but it didn't matter?

    Of course before Treacy proved they had been there were Stalinist attempts to ban and denigrate his book.

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    Default Re: "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Phelan View Post



    So they were members but it didn't matter?

    Of course before Treacy proved they had been there were Stalinist attempts to ban and denigrate his book.
    I believe they dispute the fact that they were members. Personally, I don't think it really matters if they did formally sign up. There is no sense of either of them operating under Party discipline and could not be described as members in any meaningful way.

    Furthermore, even if someone is an active member of a communist party it does not mean that if they join another organisation that they are "infiltrating". I was a member of many organisations when politically active, because the isssues affected my life or out of interest, but no one ever instructed me to "infiltrate" anything and I never joined any group with any agenda other than to assist it in its stated objectives.

    Treacy is just on some anti-communist crusade.
    Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the (female dog) that bore him is in heat again. Bertolt Brecht

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    Default Re: "The IRA 1956-69: Rethinking the Republic" by Matt Treacy

    Quote Originally Posted by Phelan View Post
    The reason the IRA banned CP members was because the CP had infiltrated the IRA on several occassions. Ban was only lifted by Provos in the late 80s.
    I suspect the ban was introduced out of anti-communism. When exactly did the CP attempt to "infiltrate" the IRA?

    I never heard of the ban being lifted. I was told it was part of the Green Book.
    Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the (female dog) that bore him is in heat again. Bertolt Brecht

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