RIP Vincent Ryan

March 2, 2016

I cant put into words the horror i felt hearing about the murder of Vincent Ryan. It cast my mind back nearly 4 years ago to the day we lost Alan. Having to watch my brother break the news to me and my confusion and disbelief brought everything rushing back. The Ryan family is now being forced to endure once again a media spotlight on their trauma. Vinny is being vilified and smeared by a craven corporate press. This however gives us an opportunity to recall what exactly has occurred in Dublin. The Republican movement Alan Ryan built devastated the gangs of North Dublin and was breaking their stranglehold on the communities. They attracted growing support. Alan and Vinny were to the forefront of anti austerity demonstrations in Dublin in 2010 and 2011. I distinctly recall at the time their presence being noted and used by the tabloids to attempt to smear the campaigns. There has been no mention of Vinny Ryan as a dedicated political activist in the wake of his murder. i met him first when i was 18 years old and was struck by his commitment and intellectual confidence and critique of the state. He stood in stark contrast to most of our generation. At 16 years old he was educating himself about his country’s past and preparing to fight for its future. The Republican movement was directly attacked by the state in the wake of Alan’s murder as well as by the cartels coalescing into a broad based alliance. The minister for Justice at the time Alan Shatter was vehement in calling for such action. He has since had to retire in disgrace and lost his seat. Martin Callinan the Garda commissioner directed the campaign. He has also since had to step down in disgrace following his description of whistle-blowers exposing Garda corruption as “disgusting”.

At the time of Alan’s murder his friends and comrades publicly pointed out the utter Garda inaction which was allowing the gangs a free hand whilst they attacked Republicans. Our accusations about Garda corruption and their relationships with criminal gangs have been largely substantiated in the past 4 years with the entire Garda culture finally being exposed. The working class communities of Dublin had long since reached these conclusions. Those who stood by Alan and Republican Socialist principles found themselves hounded by the state, criminals and former comrades who saw fit to use Alan in life and abandon him in death. The communities we once hoped to build a better society from lie devastated reeling from austerity and the brutality and fear inflicted by the gangs.

We live in a time of confusion and uncertainty. The alienation felt by many people is leading to frustration and hopelessness. Vincent Ryan never gave up his hope in the future. He saw it in his new daughter, his nephews and nieces and his family. He tried for as long as he could to secure the Republic he wanted them to grow up in. He was moving forward with his life in a society going backwards. Those that murdered him, facilitated by state inaction will continue to drag our country in that direction. The memory of Vincent Ryan will haunt them in their sleep because they know that in time more men and women will emerge and take up the struggle for the Ireland of Connolly, Costello and Vincent Ryan.

RIP mo chara

Remembring Alan Ryan

September 2, 2014

It’s been two years to the day since Alan was murdered. Since that day those who truly cared about him have been forced to endure a series of painful realizations. Amongst these, that nobody has been brought to account for his murder, that his reputation continues to be sullied by those who buy ink by the barrel and that the Republic which he laid down his life for remains far from our grasp. It is not uncommon for Republicans and indeed all political activists to project our own aspirations onto our martyrs and to imagine that they could have achieved that which we through our own efforts have been unable to. Yet with Alan there is the inescapable conclusion that with his loss we incurred not only a personal tragedy but have been left without a figure who inspired as much through individual character as through action. To anyone who knew him there requires no more explanation and to anyone who didn’t it is almost impossible to express in words what he meant.

It can be problematic to attempt to formulate lessons from the lives of those we have lost. There is always the possibility, if not the probability that we seek to retrospectively make sense of the present and provide hope for the future. With Alan there can be no such fear. His humanity and humility remain always as a reminder to those of us who remain striving for the ideals to which he committed himself. We are not simply struggling nor should we be, for a flag or anthem or abstract ideal. What Alan lived and ultimately died for was a sense of people, those disenfranchised and disillusioned by a state and system in which their only role was subservience.

There are no simple answers about where we go to from here. It is up to each to take their own course of action. However amongst those who knew and loved Alan we can trust that there is a seed of dignity and resistance to the status quo. That there remains as fresh recollection and fond memory the times Alan faced down the multifaceted threats to his own community. We owe more to him than simple platitudes and an annual wreath. The only fitting tribute is to attempt to live up to a standard of activism and personal integrity which he established and committed himself to.

RIP Alan, Friend, Comrade, Father, Brother

Never Forgotten

Oglach Alan Ryan anniversary

September 3, 2013

Today, 3rd September marks a year since IRA volunteer Alan Ryan was murdered by criminals. A march will take place on Saturday 7th September at 2.30pm from Grange Abbey drive to his grave.

wrap me neath a blood red flag

As freedom’s battle

peals in thunder,

salute me with a blood red rose,

Then tear this rich man’s world asunder

RIP Volunteer Alan Ryan

Dublin Brigade

Irish Republican Army

Never forgotten by his true friends and comrades

1913: lessons from the lockout

August 22, 2013

1913 lessons from the lockout
We are rapidly approaching the 100th anniversary of many of the seminal moments of the 1913 strike and lockout. The meagre attention afforded to the centenary both by the state and the media is nothing short of a historical whitewash. The stark contrast to the airtime and soundbites we were forced to endure during the royal visit in 2011 is hard to ignore. There were no shortage of right wing commentators during that week falling over themselves to remind us of the importance of history’s link to present political conditions. History it seems has been co-opted as another tool in the state’s war on the Irish working class.
It is not difficult to deduce the reasoning behind this orchestrated silence. The events of the lockout present an embarrassing reminder of how little progress has been made in the subsequent century, cosmetic changes aside. The Free State has been from it’s inception a bastion for gombeen capitalism. The changing of the flag, the painting of post-boxes and other nationalistic alterations did little to alleviate the devastating poverty in the slums of Dublin. The slums today have been replaced with sprawling housing estates. The scourge of TB gone to be replaced with drug abuse, unemployment, and for the fortunate low paying unsecure employment. The figure of William Martin Murphy is left to the shadows of the past, a supposed relic of times long since improved. Today we have Michael O’ Leary, a latter day Murphy complete with PR firms and colourful press releases. His disdain for the rights of workers is celebrated as the spirit of entrepreneurship by the Irish media. The essence of what drove Murphy is all pervasive. We can hear it on the Anglo tapes. Capitalism uncensored, gloating at their stranglehold on power. Murphy would no doubt be impressed with Denis O Brien’s media influence, in 1913 the Irish independent and Times cheered on the reactionary right wing causes of their owners. They’ve gotten worse since.
The trade unions have made tokenistic efforts at commemorating the lockout. The truth is they have too been cowed by the establishment. The years of social partnership and cronyism have left them floundering and toothless in the face of austerity. In 1913 the sympathetic strike was utilised because the workers understood that their only defence was solidarity. Trade union members in England were aware of and supportive of their comrades in Dublin. The unifying element was not Nation but class. Solidarity in Irish trade unions has been replaced with complicity.
The poor efforts at Commemoration and education surrounding the lockout is perhaps not surprising given the nature of the Free State. What is surprising is the attitude of the Republican organisations to the centenary. Tokenistic efforts and the odd meeting aside 2013 has not been used to highlight the anniversary. This perhaps speaks to the current political stances taken by the various groups. Since 1997 there has been a paltry attempt made to politically analyze or develop. Beyond a reiteration of the right to conduct armed struggle there has been little original offered in the way of strategic development.
The veneration of 1916 remains a key element of commemoration for all of the groups, in fact it has become the very point for some. Their is a safety in this stance, no requirement to actually produce the political goods. It also masks the internal political differences between their supporters. The past can become quite a convenient place to focus your efforts on in lieu of planning for the future. They use the proclamation as a template for their political stances. Yet if they were to examine the events of 1913 they should find considerable cause for concern.
1913 marked the formation of the Irish Citizen’s Army, arguably a more truly revolutionary and important body than the Irish volunteers. The ICA was formed to protect the rights of the Irish working class, to protect them from the state and it’s thugs in uniform. They were dedicated not only to removing the stain of Imperialism from Irish soil but to a complete destruction of the existing exploitative social order. The Volunteers on the other hand find their origins in response to the Home Rule crisis of 1912 and in response to the formation of the UVF. Their leadership was a mixed bag, moderate nationalists such as Redmond and MacNeill were far more influential with the organisation than the Republicans within the IRB who intended to utilise the Volunteers for their own purpose. The Volunteers were not committed to fighting for the rights of the Irish working class, like all nationalists they subsume the working class into the wider concept of the nation.
Republicans today rightly remember the leaders of the Rising and their contribution to the fight for freedom. However it is all too frequently glossed over that they did not all share the same objective. James Connolly led his ICA volunteers into an alliance dictated by necessity rather than by political affinity. The ICA were in truth the vanguard of the revolution, ready to strike before the Volunteers. This necessitated the co-option of Connolly onto the IRB supreme council. Ultimately it was to be the more radical ICA born from the turmoil of 1913 that would lose out in 1916. Today there are those who have taken up arms ostensibly to finish the job, to once and for all liberate the country. It is pertinent to ask how exactly they intend to truly free the Irish people. They make no attempt to build up a wider working class movement, they refuse to elaborate on their analysis of the relationship between capitalism and imperialism.
If the objective of the current armed campaign is to liberate the occupied six counties what is their position on the Free State? It has consistently defended the interests of the British government, it contains the bulk of the Irish people. Connolly wrote that the struggle for Workers liberation and national liberation were intertwined. He did not write that one could be subordinated to the interests of the other because he was explicitly stating that there could be no true liberation of the Irish people without the defeat of Capitalism.
So what to make of the organisations which have so little to say to and for the Irish working class. There are no doubt many dedicated revolutionaries in their ranks. However without any attempt to build up a proper political analysis their efforts will make no positive contribution. In truth they will be utilised as a cover for the inevitable negative elements which flourish within the armed groups. Criminality is a deep rooted problem within the armed groups its examples known and obvious to all observers familiar with the various groups vying to be considered the most legitimate. Those genuine activists who find themselves within the ranks of the current groups will have their positive contribution stained by the guilt of association. They will find themselves in years to come defending whatever shift or compromise is made, loyal to individuals rather than politics.
There are many lessons to be learned by looking at the past century. We have seen revolutionary movements destroyed not by politics but by the wrong political stances. This lesson appears to have been misapplied with many so called Republicans having no political motivations rather than the wrong ones. What must be done to find a solution will not be discovered whilst People refuse to admit there is a problem. The tired rhetoric of nationalism may be used as long as there are those willing to subscribe to it. Yet as we watch our families and communities reeling under economic attack is it not time to ask do we not have more to offer them.

The Invisible Occupation

November 7, 2012


The invisible occupation

When Republicans speak today of the occupation in Ireland it is invariably referring to the ongoing British occupation of the six counties. However in the 26 counties there exists another occupation, one which holds an all pervasive influence over society, which directs government and which is dictating events as directly as the British do in the North. This is not an occupation as we traditionally imagine it. There are no armoured cars full of aggressive soldiers to announce its presence. It didn’t emerge following an invasion or conflict. It tries to hide its influence rather than announcing it.

The powers behind this force control every facet of life in the 26 counties. They dictate what type of school your children will be able to attend, the hospital ward you will find yourself treated in, the type of employment you will or wont be able to find. It is a force which destroys communities and changes the face of every society in which it finds itself.

The force I’m referring to is the influence of international capital. In the 26 counties this has adopted the form of the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. These two entities between them now control the society of the 26 counties. They do so in a quiet manner. They did not send shock troops to capture government buildings or drive tanks down O’ Connell street. Their foot soldiers come with briefcases in bespoke suits and smile for the cameras.

Since the so called “bailout” the Free State government has been a puppet regime. An economic Vichy state, its policies dictated by others. They are now in debt to organisations which have an established ideological agenda. The ultimate end goal is to destroy any existing government influence in the economy and to pursue total privatisation. This is the legacy of Thatcher and Reagan. Conceived from the Chicago school of economics, the brainchild of Milton Freidman. It is a radical departure from the concept of the relationship between the citizen and state which has been accepted in Western Europe following World War Two.

Under the guise of bringing individual liberty the Neo Liberal program slashes taxes for the wealthy, tears apart social protection and encourages the selling off of state assets. We can already see the initial stages of its program at work in the 26 counties. Those unfortunate enough to find themselves unemployed and there are over 500,000 of us now are being blamed for our situation. We are labelled “spongers” by the Labour party, the party of Connolly we’re told! The forces of occupation are rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. State companies will be sold off to the highest bidder, employees made redundant. Programs to assist the most vulnerable will be finished. Universities will return to being the preserve of the wealthy. Our hospitals will become business opportunities rather than places to help those in need.

Republicans have always paid attention to the social aspect of the liberation struggle, albeit with varying degrees of interest. What is needed now is a complete rethink of the relationship between the economic and political struggle. For in truth the presence of the IMF proves that a state can be controlled with four men with economic degrees and briefcases as easily as it can with 30,000 troops. We must re-address our own perspectives on what sort of Ireland we see emerging post liberation, but also how we envisage any liberation of Ireland occurring.

James Connolly understood that driving the British out of Ireland was merely a step in a longer process for if the British left they would still dictate affairs economically. Handing over power to a Fine Gael administration in a United Ireland is not merely objectionable it is impossible. The Free State is run by more powerful interests than the British government. These forces of International finance will not tolerate any sort of shake up in affairs in Ireland. They are not going to sit idly by and allow revolutionary activity to upset the social order. To this end the media, the police and all the other available apparatus of the state will be deployed to demonise and ostracize all who promote this agenda.

Republicans must now engage in a process of debate and dialogue with other progressive elements. We must formulate a strategy which allows us to participate in and encourage a program of social struggle across the 32 counties. A strategy based solely on conflict with the state institutions and forces in the six counties is a ideological dead end. It will not further practical efforts to move towards our goals. In short it is time for Republicans to decide whether they want to be struggling for a socialist Republic or whether they are simply content to exist as glorified commemoration societies, safe and content in being right and going nowhere.

It is never easy to move outside a comfort zone but it is increasingly necessary for us to do so. The promotion of radical politics does not equate to an abandonment of the armed campaign. The IRA is an absolutely vital component of any campaign of liberation. For those who deride the militant groups they must ask themselves how they foresee the overthrowing of state institutions. For too long the left has been complacent about how exactly they do intend to uproot capitalist control in Ireland. Let Republicans take the first move and lay out a political program of truly revolutionary appeal. We do not need a national liberation front which is giving thought to the social question, we need a social liberation movement which defends our national and economic sovereignty. Republicans must form a key part of any such movement.

Until this occurs then Republicanism will be politically redundant. Tired slogans will not mask the serious question which have to be asked about our political direction. If we stand for the defence of national sovereignty how can we ignore the reality that the IMF is as real a threat to our sovereignty as the British government. It cannot be a minor side issue it must be addressed in direct a fashion as are the forces of the British government.

In 1916 James Connolly stood beside men with whom he had a profound political difference. He was wary of the nationalists, he felt that unlike his ICA volunteers there were many amongst the ranks of the volunteers who were content to tear down a flag rather than a social order. He was proved right and the reactionary Free State stands as a legacy to bourgeoisie nationalist aspirations. In the six counties the Provisionals strut in Armani having ditched armalites. We do not need to debate what happens when base nationalist instinct dictates a struggle. Frantz Fanon knew when he wrote The Wretched of the earth and forewarned of a middle class which would hijack the liberation struggle.

We can look at the ANC in South Africa, PLO in Palestine and Sinn Fein in our own communities. Lets stop the cycle and make Republicanism a force for revolution not reform.

Collusion and the murder of Alan Ryan

October 23, 2012


Collusion- The murder of Alan Ryan and the role of the state

It has been less than 3 months since IRA volunteer and 32CSM activist Alan Ryan was murdered. Yet from the day of his murder there have been several unresolved issues raised about the role of the state in the run up to his murder and their conspicuous absence from the area whilst the killers made good their escape. The questions raised about state complicity have gained added currency following the behaviour of the state following Alan’s murder. This piece is intended to raise these issues and to initiate a wider discussion about collusion and to hopefully begin a campaign to force the gardai to answer difficult questions about their complicity in Alan’s murder.

There are three main areas surrounding the murder of Alan that require questions to be answered. These are the media campaign of vilification and defamation leading up to his murder, the behaviour of the Gardai on the day of his murder and their behaviour in the weeks following. By examining each and probing into the relationship between the state, gardai, media and the drugs gangs it will become clear that there are wider agendas at play in Alan’s murder.

In the two years prior to his murder Alan and other members of his family had been subjected to a sustained media campaign of conjecture about their involvement in Republican activity. Whilst lurid tabloid coverage is nothing new to Republicans this campaign was an altogether more sinister one as it was clearly being directed and controlled from Special Branch HQ in Harcourt street. Stories were planted in the media with the assistance of several well known crime “journalists”. The role of these journalists in inciting violence on the streets of Dublin is well known. The most notorious, if only for his prose is Paul Williams. Williams who holds no qualifications in journalism has survived and thrived thanks largely to his family connections to the Gardai. His immediate family include members of the special branch. His parasitic relationship with the Gardai relies on a mutual dependency. Williams is fed stories which he duly embellishes and ensures that certain Garda senior brass are given special mention in whatever book or article it is that he is pushing. In return Williams is guaranteed privileged access to the holy grail of crime journalism. The “security source”.

It is important to note that it has been for over 6 years an offence for a member of An Garda Siochana to pass information to a journalist. When minister for justice Michael MacDowell outlawed the practice following a series of embarrassing leaks which undermined his credibility. Despite this it is regular practice for privileged journalists to be granted access to information in return for printing uncritical pieces about the gardai.

Williams and other hacks began to print stories about Alan because they were being instructed to. A known drug dealer who claimed that he had been intimidated by Alan was informed by Williams that unless he testified he would be murdered by the RIRA.

Whatever the semantic debates about ethics in journalism there is no doubt that this type of behaviour is beyond the pale. Williams duly ran an exclusive interview with the individual making no mention of his previous conviction for importing cocaine.

Other journalists followed suit and soon Alan was a regular feature of the Sunday tabloids. Not content with putting his life in danger they published pictures of his ex-partners home and mocked Alan for expressing outrage that this was putting his child’s life in danger. Paul Williams staged a “confrontation” with Alan outside the house under the protective gaze of a number of special branch officers. In the months preceding Alan’s murder the tabloids went into overdrive pushing the line that there was a vicious feud between the IRA and a drugs gang on the north side. Much speculation was heaped on supposed attacks linked to both sides and the role that Alan was supposedly playing in it. This was classic felon setting and was little better than pinning a target to Alan’s back for every drugs gang in Dublin.

Having completed their role in criminalizing and demonising Alan the time was ripe for the gardai to play their part in provoking and facilitating his murder. In the weeks before he was murdered the Special Branch were telling members of the 32CSM they arrested that “we wont be putting Alan back in jail we’re going to kill him”. For any dismissive of this type of remark it is important to remember that similar comments were made by the RUC in the six counties about people such as Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane who were later murdered by Loyalist gangs later found to be working hand in hand with the state. Alan was given numerous death threats in the months before his murder. Yet Paul Williams has claimed on national radio that he was aware of the plot to kill Alan 3 weeks prior to it occurring. If this is true then why has Williams not been arrested and questioned, if it is true then why was Alan not given a specific threat stemming from this information?

On the day of the murder Alan was meeting two of his friends from Sligo. Both of these men have stated that they were under heavy and regular surveillance from the Special Branch. Both men were stopped and searched by the gardai on their way to Dublin, the details of the car and occupants were then radioed in. It is clear that the gardai were aware from that morning if not before that Alan would be meeting with both men. Both men as well as others present in Donaghmede that afternoon have stated that all three were under surveillance in Dublin prior to them exiting the Ryan household.

The Donaghmede/Clongriffin area is home to a number of 32CSM activists whose homes are regularly raided, they are under almost constant surveillance and the area was regularly saturated with undercover as well as plainclothes gardai. Despite this a hit team was able to stay in the area and monitor Alan’s home and his movements for at least three days prior to the murder. They were able to murder Alan and make good their escape without running into any garda patrol. No Garda helicopter was put up following the shooting. The gardai took over ten minutes to arrive on the scene and the Special Branch officers who did arrive disgraced themselves by mocking Alan and remarking to his friends “The models dead now”.

Since his murder the information that has emerged about the drugs gang responsible would seem to further strengthen the case for garda collusion. Some of those suspected of involvement are long suspected garda informers given immunity for their crimes in return for information. This pattern will be familiar to any who have a knowledge of the relationship between Loyalist paramilitaries and the British security forces. It seems clear that a Drugs gang infiltrated by the gardai was encouraged by the media, facilitated by the gardai and allowed to murder Alan Ryan. There will no doubt be those sceptical as to whether the gardai would stoop to such levels, albeit individuals who have little knowledge of the ethics of the force in question!

For those who doubt that the gardai would allow or encourage such an incident they would do well to examine the behaviour of the gardai following the murder. The family and friends of Alan were subjected to a sustained campaign of harassment in the days following his murder. The Donaghmede area was saturated with gardai. The trusty “garda sources” briefed the media that Alan was an apolitical criminal. They made comments such as “he wont be missed”. The media saw fit to print pictures of Alan lying murdered in the street. These same publications would a month later find themselves in a moral dilemma over the morality of printing topless pictures of Kate Middleton!

Alan was given a Republican funeral with all the customary procedures for an IRA volunteer. This only proceeded due to the discipline and resolve shown by his comrades. It infuriated the establishment who decided it was the appropriate pretext for initiating the second stage of the plan. Following the murder of Alan the state have to date arrested 26 Republicans in connection with his funeral. Three face spurious charges with two men including one of Alan’s brother on remand in Portlaoise jail with no evidence being presented against them. What is clear is that the state intends to use Alan’s murder as a springboard from which to crush the Republican movement in the 26 counties.

Republicans across the 26 counties have been subjected to a sustained and unprecedented level of harassment. All of this is being done under the guise of investigating the funeral of Alan Ryan. It must be evident to even a hostile observer that the gardai have shown little interest in solving Alan’s murder. To date three people have been arrested with the gardai admitting that none are suspected of direct involvement. All three have been released without charge.

There are those who will ask to what end would the Free State collude indirectly with a criminal gang to murder Alan Ryan? The answer to that lies in the political significance of Alan as an individual and his role within the anti drugs efforts of the Republican movement. Alan was a prominent and well respected Republican and had an impeccable Republican pedigree. A teen member of the Fianna he progressed into the ranks of the IRA. He was an ex-POW and commanded respect in the wider Republican circle. He had built up a strong support base on the North side of Dublin. More importantly Alan was a strong supporter of unity amongst Republicans. He was also supportive of the unity moves being made by Republican militants. As such it must be highlighted Alan presented a pertinent threat to not only the Free State but to the British establishment in the six counties. The British security services had more than a passing interest in seeing Alan Ryan removed from the scene.

To the Free State establishment Alan was a headache. Despite the media campaign of criminalisation the ordinary people of Dublin continued to offer support to Alan. This was because the most effective rebuttal to claims of criminality was Alan’s lifestyle. He lived simply and frugally and this was common knowledge in his community. Likewise his effectiveness as an active service volunteer meant that the gardai were coming under increasing pressure to take him off the streets. They were unable to do so and with each passing month their inability to stop the growing strength of the IRA in Dublin was becoming a greater embarrassment to them.

The removal of Alan Ryan suited therefore the agenda of two states as well as mi5 and the gardai. However their proxy gunmen had their own agenda. Alan Ryan had crippled the drugs gangs in Dublin. The term gangs does not truly convey the nature of these organisations. These are essentially cartels with annual turnovers of millions of euros, access to high grade weaponry and given basically a free hand to operate by an incompetent and corrupt police force. The greatest threat to this business empire came from Alan and republicans. Encouraged by media distortions painting Alan as unconnected to the wider republican family these gangs were encouraged to begin to plan for his removal. Unlike him they would not be subject to draconian legislation or constant surveillance and harassment. They were the convenient vehicle for a state driven agenda.

Alan Ryan was set up to be murdered. His killers were allowed to gun him down and escape. They have not been subject to any serious effort to solve his murder. They roam the streets immune from prosecution until the day they will no doubt outgrow their usefulness.

There are many who will feel little sympathy for Alan perhaps feeling he should expect little more. They should ask themselves then how they feel about living in a state which allows one of its citizens to be murdered simply because his political beliefs are troublesome for them. How a state which exerts more effort into investigating shots fired over a coffin than the shots which murdered Alan can claim to stand for principles such as justice. They must question the role that a compliant media plays in peddling lies fed to them by the gardai.

Alan Ryan was murdered by a criminal gang. He was a political figure with a political agenda and importance. We are simply a group of his friends seeking the answers to the questions raised and looking for justice for the Ryan family.

The Frank Ryan Society

RIP Vol Alan Ryan

September 10, 2012

Oglach Alan Ryan

A week ago on Monday afternoon IRA volunteer Alan Ryan was shot in the back on the streets of North Dublin in a cowardly ambush by hired gunman. Those responsible for his murder are a part of a drugs culture in Dublin which Alan had brought to the brink of destruction. As leader of the Dublin brigade of the IRA Alan had wrought havoc on the drugs gangs that plagued his city. He was a highly effective organizer and built up an organisation which pushed the drugs gangs steadily out of the city. Ultimately whilst a drugs gang may bear direct responsibility for his murder there are a number of forces which enabled it. The Free state media and Gardai both helped create the conditions where an IRA volunteer was criminalized and demonised.

Alan was a lifelong Republican Socialist. From his early teens he was an active member of Na Fianna Eireann before graduating into the ranks of the Irish Republican Army. He led from the front and by the age of 19 was in portloaise jail serving a seven year sentence. This did little to change his mind about the republican movement and when he was released he set about building up the Republican movement in Dublin. Alan was not a militarist, he had a keen understanding of the relationship between the social struggle and the war against the occupation. He felt that a political Republican movement was essential to help organize communities and to mobilize Republicans. As such he was active in the 32CSM right up until his murder and played a leading role in helping develop the movement in Dublin.

The media began to take notice of Alan when it became apparent that he was making headway in Dublin in the campaign against drug dealers. Encouraged by the Gardai the tabloid press began to use his name with greater frequency, attempting to link him to criminality with greater frequency. Alan was hurt by this on a personal level and often expressed his amazement that anybody could believe he was involved in criminality given the lifestyle he led. He lived at home, unable until recently to afford a car of his own. He did not enjoy a life of luxury. The media painted him as a dangerous thug. His friends knew him as a big kid who enjoyed nothing better than messing about with his pals. The gardai regarded him as a threat to the state, he was a threat to their state. He despised the 26 county government which he rightly saw as being responsible for impoverishing his community and the Irish working class. He refused to pay fines handed down to him by the courts going to jail rather than handing over money to the IMF. His personal generosity was usually at his own expense he went without rather than seeing others stuck.

Alan was happier in the past few months than in previous years. He felt that republicanism was beginning to develop and grow in strength. Despite his own concerns in Dublin he remained resolutely committed to the struggle in the six counties and looked forward to seeing the Republican movement there develop. He cared deeply about republican prisoners in particular Marian Price who he constantly reminded people about and who he personally campaigned for with all his effort. The media stepped up its efforts to portray Alan as a gangster and a thug. They were encouraged by the Garda special branch who could not make any headway against Alan or the Dublin brigade of the IRA which had crippled numerous drugs gangs across the city. They kept Alan under constant surveillance and harassed him and his family at every opportunity.

On Monday afternoon this surveillance disappeared. Alan and two friends were all being monitored and kept under a close eye that day. Yet the gunman who murdered Alan was allowed to travel freely in an area which was saturated with gardai on a daily basis. After he murdered Alan he was allowed make good his escape unhindered for a vital ten minutes while the gardai turned a blind eye. No Garda helicopter was scrambled to attempt to stop the getaway. The Gardai who did arrive on the scene mocked Alan and his friends, they showed no interest in establishing what had happened.

Alan was buried by his friends and comrades in the Republican movement. The forces of the state could not prevent the volunteers of the IRA laying their comrade to rest with dignity and honour. They were forced to stand by impotently as the volunteers of Dublin brigade emerged and gave their comrade a volley of shots to salute him. Alan was laid to rest with his father while thousands of his friends and comrades stood to say goodbye. It was a funeral fitting for a great Republican, it made a mockery of the attempts to portray him as a local criminal.

Alan left behind a legacy which will not be immediately apparent. Young republicans across Ireland looked to Alan for leadership and as an example of what a Republican activist should behave like. His integrity and commitment is ingrained in the minds of a new generation of Republicans who will no doubt do their best to live up to the example he set. In murdering Alan the drug gangs have no doubt sealed their own fate. The Republican movement has not been destroyed by the loss of Alan. No republican has fled Dublin following his murder. Republicans are gathering and uniting in his memory and no doubt the impact of this will be seen in the weeks to come.

For his friends Alan cannot be replaced or forgotten. He wasn’t just a Republican, he was a brother, a son and a friend to so many. He brightened up the lives of all he came into contact with. He has left behind memories which will always be treasured and the hurt of losing him will never be fully healed. We can only do what Alan always encouraged us to, keep strong and carry on united until we complete the goals for which he gave his life for.

Marching the Road to nowhere- Loyalism’s crisis of confidence

September 2, 2012

Marching the road to nowhere- Loyalism’s crisis of confidence

The actions of the Orange order and a number of Loyalist flute bands in the past number of weeks has caused much consternation and debate amongst the media. The blatant sectarianism and triumphal on display by the YCV flute band in cave hill, the defiance of the parades commission by the orange order and the support lent to both by unionist politicians has sparked a debate about what exactly is the issue behind the trouble.

At no point has any media commentator bothered to analyse the incident within a broader look at Loyalism post GFA. The truth that no media commentator dares speak apparently is that since the singing of the GFA Loyalism has been convulsed by a series of problems all of which stem from it’s internal political contradictions and lack of class awareness.

From the feuding which erupted between the UDA and UVF, LVF and UVF and now internal tensions within both the UDA and UVF the paramilitaries have not adapted well to the new arrangement. What does hold them together is a continued commitment to racketeering and widespread drug dealing. This is a result of the fact that there is no political rationale for their continued existence.

The GFA was in essence a victory for unionism. It delivered all the core goals which they demanded. The Loyalist paramilitaries however are distinct from mainstream unionism. They emerged from the sectarian mire which engulfed working class Loyalist areas. They were politically incoherent, a useful state counter gang for the British government. Their political representatives that did exist failed to formulate anything approaching an analysis which would explain their activity. Loyalists know instinctively that they are useful pawns. Their representatives try to articulate the widespread discontent within working class protestant communities with mainstream Unionist politicians. It is a mixture of confusion as to why the state which ensured their supremacy has changed and a bitterness that they have not reaped the political sway which the Provisional movement did following the GFA.

By fighting to ensure British control in the six counties Loyalists have always been fighting against their class interests. From being used as cannon fodder at the Somme to being a useful negotiating ploy by Ian Paisley they have been used and abused to ensure the status quo. What underhinged their acceptance of this was the belief in their own superiority and supremacy over their catholic neighbours. This manifested itself in many ways, from the bastion of political dominance in Stormont, the privileged status of protestant workers in places like Harland and Wolff and the annual parading by the Orange order. Since the signing of the GFA many of these institutions and privileges have been rolled back. Catholics are now entering universities, employment and all other spheres of cultural and political life in ever greater numbers and with greater confidence.

This reality unsettles Loyalism. It creates a political crisis within it as an ideology because they have no framework to explain it. Their loyalty to British rule was largely based on the colonial basis that they were the elite and that the natives remained subjugated. The GFA ensures British rule but to appease the Provisional movement moves had to be made to make the six county state a warmer place for Catholics. As such the Loyalists have a political victory and a social failure. They have no political explanation for this that would not force them to examine their core beliefs about their identity.

The result of this can be seen in many ways. The attack on the short strand by the UVF, the annual coat trailing at Ardoyne, in short any opportunity for them to get a taste of the old order of affairs. They are placated by the PSNI and mainstream unionism in a number of ways, be it through “peace money” to the paramilitaries or police protection for provocative marches. However this state of affairs cannot last for ever. Sooner or later Loyalism is going to face an implosion amongst its crisis of confidence. It is unlikely that the paramilitaries who are thoroughly under the control of the British will be allowed to return to their sectarian murder campaign. It is also unlikely although entirely possible that they will be allowed target Republicans. Internal feuding, attacks on immigrants and further shifts to random sectarian brutality are the likely avenue.

The Republican argument is one which offers a genuine place for working class protestant in Ireland. Republicanism has its roots in Presbyterian dissenters who were also suffering discrimination along with Catholics. They filled the ranks of the United Irishmen and fought side by side for a secular Republic. Our argument and vision remains the same. Whilst British rule continues the protestant working class will be divided and ruled and used as a cosh against their neighbours. The only loyalty which will serve the working class of the six counties will be class loyalty.

The unified Resistance

July 27, 2012

The unified resistance

The dramatic announcement yesterday that the three strongest Republican militant groups are to coalesce into a new entity is the biggest development in militant republicanism since the signing of the GFA. It represents a  broader recognition by many Republicans that the armed campaign to date has faltered, not politically since the underlying rationale remains the same but through a lack of capacity to wage a sustained assault on the British presence.

The majority of Republicans support armed resistance that is undoubtedly true. The political groups which support armed action dwarf those such as Eirigi or the IRSP. Given that those groups strategy is to build a much broader resistance they can only welcome this announcement. It is evidence of a sober and mature assessment of the state of the militant groups. It also shows a wider abandonment of ego and no doubt personal disagreements for the greater good.

One of the core themes of the establishment and media attacks on the armed groups is that they are miniscule and factionalized. This will ring somewhat hollow as an organisation now exists which can extend its reach to anywhere in the 32 counties. The geographical isolation of the groups in their previous incarnation is no longer an obstacle. The new organisation will now have access to a large pool of experienced personnel and the stockpiles of equipment built up by each separate group.

For those militant groups which were left out of the new arrangement by choice or by design the future remains uncertain. The provisionals used to delight in calling on the INLA to disband and for its members to join the Provos. Any such calls from the new organisation seem to be unlikely and are undoubtedly unwelcome. Each group must now evaluate for itself the rationale behind its campaign. The true decider of any groups merits will be its actions rather than words and should the IRA as presently constituted wage a sustained campaign then no doubt there are many who will take the decision to join the more effective group.

The broader political implications of the new arrangement remain unclear. It seems highly unlikely that a new political movement will be created; the more sensible arrangement would be increased unity of action between existing political structures. In truth the announcement has not been a seismic political shift. The logic underpinning the continuation of the armed campaign remains the same, what has changed is the capacity to carry out such a campaign. The denial of sovereignty, partition and British rule in Ireland will continue to provoke an armed response. Those who politically support the right to resist have long made this argument and it has been proved to be right, the tenacity of such resistance is simply underscored by the recent development.

From those who would attack or attempt to attack the new group from a socialist perspective their logic is redundant. The group has committed itself to acting as a military pressure on the British presence. Those who attack them for not articulating a broader social message are the very same individuals who attack such groups for being elitist, secretive and unsuited for carrying on the class struggle. The capitalist system is a barrier to true liberation. It must be dealt with and cannot be ignored from the political equation. However the manner in which it will be dealt with differs substantially from the manner in which a military campaign which is still finding its feet must operate. The total lack of radical action, indeed the moral cowardice of the left in the 26 counties has left those pushing for a more radical republican response to the economic crisis in a somewhat awkward position. It is clear that they have neither intention nor desire for challenging the state. It is also clear they have no intention or desire to work with Republicans. To hinge a strategy at this point on co-operation with the trade unions or organized left is wilful ignorance of reality. Those republican groups which disavow armed struggle and proclaim that a new working class mass movement will be built have nothing to show for their activity at present. Aside from the occasional publicity stunt activity they have failed to grip the imagination of either the working class or Republican youth.

In the coming weeks and months the IRA will undoubtedly be busy if their initial statement rings true. No doubt they will come under sustained assault from both the state and the media. For all those who politically support the resistance the time has come to create a true political campaign which will be both cohesive and effective. Each activist of whatever group they may claim allegiance to must commit themselves to making a decision to give whatever time and effort they can to try and build the Republican political presence. The volunteers of the IRA deserve nothing less than the full and unwavering support of Republicans who support the right to resist. They are no doubt going to need it.

RAAD-solution or scapegoats?

June 14, 2012

RAAD- scapegoats or solution?

The recent BBC spotlight program which investigated the activities of Republican action against drugs failed utterly to address the underlying issues which surround the emergence of the group. With the usual smattering of condemnations from Provisional Sinn Fein and their proxy professionally outraged “community organisations” this was the usual hatchet job. Aside from a few brief interviews with local residents and Republicans the program simply set out to dismiss the group as mindless vigilantes, wedded to thuggery for its own sake.

RAAD cannot be analysed or condemned without understanding the context of its creation. Following the acceptance of British policing by Sinn Fein working class communities across the six counties were left to fend for themselves. Having been encouraged and obliged by the Provisionals to accept their form of community policing for 30 years they were suddenly cast adrift. The PSNI made it clear by their actions from the outset that they had little interest in tackling the problems such as drugs and anti-social behaviour which plague these communities. They were too busy hunting down all those who remained opposed to the new status quo.

RAAD’s ranks are filled with those who were taught that it was their duty to defend their community and that British police were an occupational force. Then those who had taught them had a change of heart. Their former pupils have simply continued to practice what has been preached to Republicans for decades. Yet the BBC program chose not to highlight this irony, rather RAAD were presented as some sort of barbaric anomaly, a blight on cosmopolitan Derry! They did not choose to delve into the fear wrought upon communities already suffering from economic disadvantage by the drugs gangs. Predatory individuals were given plenty of mention in the program, yet at no point did they seek to show the intimidation and trauma inflicted by drug dealers on the families and drug abusers.

RAAD have out grown their original mission statement, that much is evident. They have moved from simply tackling drugs to wider anti-social behaviour. They have also defended their communities from the PSNI by attacking them as they ransacked homes in Creggan. RAAD must develop its own political path in the near future, one which is tenable and logical. However RAAD are by no means the long term solution to the issue of drugs. The abuse of drugs is not an issue which is confined to the working class, but the negative effects related to it disproportionately affect working class communities.

The long term aim of Republican Socialists must be the education of our youth to work towards the eradication of drug addiction. This is not an objective which can be achieved by a militant group, nor do I think that RAAD believe that they can solve the problem entirely.

However anyone who stands to condemn RAAD would do well to look to the streets of Dublin. The ravaging of communities by drug gangs who were given a free hand for a very brief period in the late 70s to early 80s has had an effect which remains to this day. When the communities did mobilize they could do so only with the quiet support of the Provisional IRA. This anti-drugs campaign continued throughout the 80s until the mid 90s. Then the Provos chose to step back and to run down their involvement in the campaign. This gave the drugs gangs almost complete control of the city. They operated with impunity and entire communities were destroyed. In recent years the RIRA have made significant headway in taking back the city from the dealers. They have done this by the same means employed by the Provisionals and indeed RAAD. Until the power of the dealers is physically smashed then it is almost impossible to convince communities to mobilize themselves politically on the issue. Here is the catch 22. Without RAAD then the drugs gangs will grow and so will the related problems. With RAAD there is the potential for a more sophisticated community response to emerge, one which knows it does not need to fear the dealers.

The BBC can afford to condemn RAAD, they do not have to live in communities blighted by the parasitic drug dealers whose victims receive no warning, no mediation with a community centre. RAAD must develop a political or a social framework for its actions as they extend their campaign. To not do so will leave them open to the criticism that they are acting without sufficient leadership and discipline. However RAAD must remain and continue its work. Once a city is abandoned to the drugs gangs it can never be fully recovered. The BBC, Sinn Fein and those shrilly shouting for RAAD to disband should perhaps concentrate less on the city of culture but on the city in 20 years time. RAAD may not be the long term solution but their considerably more welcome than no solution at all.