Theory & History

30th anniversary of the death of hunger striker Bobby Sands

Thatcher’s brutal prisons regime
Reprint articles by Tony Saunois and Peter Hadden and introduction (Socialism Today, May 2011 issue)
Today, 5 May, marks the 30th anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands, one of seven Irish Republican Army (Provisional IRA) hunger strikers who, along with three Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) prisoners, undertook a hunger strike to the death in the then infamous H-block prison in Northern Ireland. These prisoners were protesting about the repression and conditions in the jail, and demanded political status. Margaret Thatcher and her Tory Westminster government refused to make any concessions to the prisoners.

1980 State papers: Did Thatcher consider withdrawal?

 


The release of State Papers from 1980 has shed further light on British government policy during the course of the Troubles. The Socialist Party has always argued that the British state above all acted in its own interests -in the interests of capitalism – during this period. The Papers add to the evidence which supports this analysis. In 1979 the Thatcher government came to power. In the same year the Provisional IRA, reorganised into a cell structure after it suffered significant setbacks in the period after the 1974-1975 ceasefire, launched a new offensive.

70th anniversary of the assasination of Leon Trotsky

Coming mass revolts will see workers and youth look to Trotsky’s ideas

Seventy years ago the greatest living revolutionary of the time, Leon Trotsky, was murdered by Josef Stalin’s hit man Ramon Mercader. There had been a number of failed previous attempts on Trotsky’s life but this time a fatal blow from an ‘ice pick’ successfully destroyed the ‘brain’ of the working class and the symbol of implacable opposition to capitalism and totalitarian Stalinism. This event, celebrated in the Kremlin by Stalin and the bureaucratic elite he represented, also brought joy to the capitalist governments of Europe, America and the world.

Bloody Sunday Saville Inquiry – Innocent protesters murdered by the British Army

Role of army chiefs and Establishment in killings and cover-up remains unanswered

The publication of the Report of the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, more commonly known as the Saville Inquiry, has brought to light, once again, the murderous and brutal lengths the British capitalist state is prepared to go to defend its interests. The Saville Inquiry, which cost nearly £200 million and lasted 12 years, has officially confirmed what everyone has known all along – that those who were murdered by the British Army on Bloody Sunday were innocent.

August 1969

When British troops went in to Northern Ireland

August 1969 was a turning point in the history of Northern Ireland. It was then that the Labour Government of Harold Wilson took the decision to send troops onto the streets, first of Derry, then of Belfast.

The measure was presented as temporary – troops were needed, they said,  because, with riots sweeping the streets, with huge parts of Derry and Belfast sealed off behind barricades and with pogroms starting to develop, it was clear that the Unionist government at Stormont had lost control. It was to be a ‘stop gap’. The troops would be withdrawn ‘as soon as law and order is restored’.

 

Marxism and the second world war

The lyrics to Eric Bogle’s haunting folk song, No Man’s Land (The Green Fields of France, or Willie McBride), set against the background of an imaginary young soldier killed in the first world war, are as relevant today on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the start of the second world war which falls on 1 September. War did happen ‘again and again’ with its countless victims and will continue to do so as long as capitalism remains. Indeed, the total number of victims of the second world war dwarfed even the carnage of the first. Estimates of the total number of casualties for the war suggest some 60 million died, 20 million soldiers and 40 million civilians.

The Good Friday Agreement – 10 years on

Sectarian politicians’ power-sharing Assembly not a solution

27 May 2008

The recent tenth anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday Agreement was marked by a series of high profile events and much mutual back-slapping. The politicians who negotiated the Agreement were lauded by the media and, once again, the “solution” to Northern Ireland’s problems was touted as a blueprint for similar intractable problems around the world.

After the Omagh Bomb

October 1998

AN UNPRECEDENTED wave of anger and revulsion has swept across Northern Ireland in the aftermath of the Omagh bomb. In Omagh virtually everything shut down for a week as the town braced itself for the agony of the funerals.

On the Monday morning shop stewards approached the management of the Desmonds factory, one of the biggest employers in the town, and the result was the closure of the factory for a week. In the town centre only newsagents and florists stayed open. A vigil organised by local community activists on Tuesday evening, and held in a car park close to where the bomb went off, drew a huge crowd.