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Monday, December 12, 2005 

The Old Comrades Network falters

We see that Labour TD Liz McManus has set up a blog. Fairly anodyne stuff (as politicians' blogs can be) but one curiosity leapt out at us on her biography page:
"Political Career:

-Elected to Dáil Éireann in 1992, re-elected in 1997 and 2002
-Elected Deputy Leader of the Labour Party in 2002.
-Minister of State for Housing & Urban Renewal 1994-1997
-President of the Informal Council of Housing Ministers during the EU Irish Presidency in 1996
-Member of the Northern Ireland Forum for Peace & Reconciliation 1994-97
-Chair of the Task Force on the Needs of the Travelling Community 1993
-First Elected to Bray UDC in 1979 and Wicklow County Council 1995"
There's something rather important - and obvious - missing from this political resumé. And it's the same thing missing from those of Pat Rabbitte, Proinsias de Rossa, Joe Sherlock, Eamon Gilmore and Kathleen Lynch. The Stickies' penchant for historical revisionism extends to their former lives as leading members of the Stalinist Worker's Party, it seems.

And perhaps it's just as well (for the continued prosperity of Rabbitte & Co.) that all this disappears into the memory hole, as the dire straits of current Worker's Party leader Seán Garland make clear. Wanted by the Bush administration for an alleged Chinese-North Korean plot to flood Western economies with the so-called 'superdollars', Garland has fled to the Republic in an attempt to evade extradition to Guantanamo American custody. The current edition (sub. required) of Phoenix Magazine has more:
"[...]However [Garland] will get no support from the Labour Party leadership.
The Labour Party is now led by former comrades – the leader and deputy leader, Pat Rabbitte and Liz McManus, as well as its most impressive parliamentary performer, Eamon Gilmore and the party’s sole MEP, former WP president, Proinsias De Rossa. The studied and embarrassed silence from this quarter about Garland’s predicament when he was scooped by the Brits in Belfast was deafening.
At a time when even the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, pledged to raise his case with the American authorities – coupled with a neutral but benign statement from Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, that he was monitoring the situation – the Labour leadership remained mute. It was left to former Labour leader Ruairí Quinn to follow his constituency rival John Gormley – as he has begun to do in areas like the Shannon-US Army collaboration – in questioning the British extradition warrant of Garland.
Several other deputies spoke in support of Garland – including Labour’s Michael D Higgins, Jan O’Sullivan and Joe Costello – but there wasn’t a squeak out of Rabbitte or the other ex-stickies in Labour’s leadership. Such political cowardice might help to explain WP comrade Des O’Hagan’s speech, delivered just days after this parliamentary debate, in which he excoriated the same excomrades.


Garland is entitled to feel deeply betrayed by these midlife converts to social democracy. Rabbitte and company were comrades of Garland for many years but have remained publicly mute in the face of repeated accusations that their party was associated with the illegal fund raising operations of the OIRA. Rabbitte and the other former WP deputies can be accused of many things but stupidity and political naivete are not among them. Only when the Eastern block collapsed did the WP split and only then did the parliamentarians begin to voice their concern at rumours of illegality. And while Rabbitte has since been extremely vocal about the need for the Provos to decommission their weapons, he has never demanded that OIRA decommission its weapons."
Garland - guilty or not - has reason to feel sore that the "social democrat" opportunists pragmatists who split a decade or more ago have decided to pull a Peter on him, and that former Stickie strongholds in the Irish media are now putting the knife in (Update: more here). But others may feel that chickens have finally come home to roost, not least the former campaigners to free the unjustly-imprisoned Birmingham Six:
"Perhaps the best example of how Garland and the WP have isolated themselves from their own, natural peergroup came in a letter he sent to the moderate, non-Sinn Féin and most definitely non-subversive committee set up to assist the Birmingham Six to clear their name in the late ‘80s. Responding to the committee’s request for WP support for the campaign, Garland replied “It is our opinion that a committee such as yours, because of statements made by some of its members expressing support for the Provisional IRA terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland and in Britain, is more liable to damage the prospects these people have of securing any redress”. Garland had to retract and apologise for this statement against the committee members but still the WP did nothing to assist the campaign for the Birmingham Six (see The Phoenix, 22/3/1991)."
Nevertheless, we would judge the fundamental characteristic of justice to be that it applies to all, no matter how much we might personally enjoy seeing the old bugger in irons. As the Phoenix warns in conclusion:
"Now 72 years, with health problems and in danger of political extinction, Garland also faces physical extinction if Bush and the neo-cons get hold of him."
The Irish Government has so far done a piss-poor job of living up to our obligations not to act as an accessory to torture. It's not a defence to say that the rest of the EU were also allegedly party to a secret plan to allow this, too. Keep him home!

"Libel"-Richard Waghorne
"Attack blog"-Damien Mulley

About me

  • An early-thirties male Irish technologist living and working in Dublin, I'm a former (recovering) member of both Fianna Fáil and the Roman Catholic Church.

    I'm not a member of any political party these days, but my opinions can be broadly categorised as 'lefty' and republican. I am also a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

    Please feel free to check out the FI Fie Foe Fum group blog, where I was once a regular contributor, and the Cedar Lounge Revolution, where I can usually be found in the comments.

    (This blog and its contents reflect only my own personal opinions as a private citizen, and not those of any other person or organisation.)



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