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Revolutionary Communist Group


N'o.2 ZOp


Number 2 June 1977

Hands Off Ireland is a quarterly bulletin of the Revolutionary Communist Group, published by RCG Publications Ltd.

ISSN 0309-2526


2 Editorial

Terry Marlowe

3 Irish Political Trials in England Jackie Kaye

5 The Trade Unions in the North of Ireland

A Greene

7 The Loyalist Strike - whose defeat?

John Fitzgerald

9 Police Powers and the Prevention of Terrorism Act

Brian Rose-Smith

13 Peace People Pritt Irland

14 Review of 'The Irish Crisis' Chris Collins


Terry Marlowe

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'In a signitlcant intensification of the struggle against terrorism the army in Northern ireland is to be used increasingly for undercover intellig~nce operations of an "SAS" type.' (Guardian 9.6.77)

This second issue of Hands Off Ire/and appears at a time when the increased repression of the Nationalist minority in Northern Ireland is becoming more and .more open. Cde Palmer argued in 'What will Britain do next?' (HOI I) that increased repression in the North coupled with a turn to Loyalism was the necessary strategy for British Imperialism in the present period. Events since then have borne this out. Further, in the South too, the republican movement has come under severe attack from the Coalition Government. In the North British Imperialism is expanding all sections of the armed forces and has recently announced its intention to lengthen sentences for a number of so-called terrorist offences. Roy Mason has finally made clear what the aim of British strategy iii.

'The aim of our security policy iii to free Northern Ireland from terrorism in all its forms and to do so in such a way as to ensure, as far as is possible, that it will not break out again in future years.' (Guardian 9.6.71)

In other words, the fmal drive to eliminate all traces of opposition to British Imperialism's rule in Ireland has been declared. And in the South the election speeches of Liam Cosgrave and CODor Cruise O'Brien indio care that the Southern Regime will play a full part in this drive. By the time this issue appears the General Election in the South will have taken place. Comrades should have no doubt that whoever wins will be carrying out this policy of repression.

But what does this mean for the British working class? This drive in Ireland comes at the same lime as a further phase of the Social Contract is coming increasingly into question. It seems to many British workers that they have enough on their own plates without the Irish question being added. The connection between the struggle of British workers against the effects of the capitalist crisis and the struggle of the Irish for selfdetermination is not grasped. Yet history shows how vital this connection is.

In the years after the First World War two themes dominated the class struggle in Britain: the developing movement for national independence in Ireland and the intensifying class struggle in Britain. The British ruling class faced an increasingly dangerous situation. On the one hand its

rule in Ireland was being challenged both electorally and in armed struggle. On the other 'its rule in Britain was being challenged by widespread strikes (the most dangerous, for the ruling class, being the police strike in Liverpool in J 919). But the British bourgeoisie held a trump card: the fact that the struggle in Ireland and the struggle in Britain remained separate in the eyes of British workers - including the most milita.nt of them. This separation allowed British Imperialism, at the beginning of the twenties, to concentrate its forces on smashing the independence movement in Ireland. This it achieved with the imposition of partition in 1921. This victory left the ruling class free to give its undivided attention to the defeat of the rising workers movement in Britain, And this it also achieved with the defeat of the General Strike in 1926. In short, the failure of the British working class to. identify itself with Irish independence and self- determination was a major part of its own defeat in 1926.

This lesson of history must be learnt by the movement today. Unless the chauvinism that prevents British workers from independently opposing the rule of British Imperialism in Ireland is defeated it will once again render them incapable of defending their own interests against that very same Imperialist bourgeoisie.

The purpose of this Bul1etin is to provide a regular forum of serious discussion on the Irish question. Only in this way can we provide the political c1a.rity that the movement requires in order both to defend the Irish people against British Imperialism and to develop the necessary ideological independence to defend itself against the capitalist crisis. In this issue therefore we welcome three contributions from outside the RCG. This is an important st.ep forward and we hope to continue it.

The article from cde Kaye and the article from cde Rose-Smith show the way in which bourgeois legality is used to smash all opposition to the rule of British Imperialism in Ireland. Cde Kaye reveals the methods used to obtain convictions against Irish men and women and the sentences imposed on them. These trials reveal the real content of bourgeois democracy: that it is the political instrument of capitalism. It exists to defend the rule of the bourgeoisie. Justice, legalitY are merely deliberately abstract terms aimed at covering the fact that it is bourgeois justice and bourgeois legality that is at stake. This lesson concerning the real nature of 'Britain's democratic tradition' is one that the bourgeoisie will teach to British workers as their struggles. against the crisis develop. The RCG gives its support to the Prisoners Aid Committee and has reprinted their advert in this issue because we recognise that support for Irish political prisoners is a. necessary part of the defence of the right of the Irish people to self-determination. Cde RoseSmith's article on the Prevention of Terror-


ism Act also concerns the reality of bourgeois legality in a struggle between British Imperialism and the liberation movement in an oppressed nation. He shows bow precisely this Act has been written so as to eliminate any movement in support of the Irish people in this country. Its central aim is to prevent the Irish question from being raised in the British movement.

We also reprint an article from Fritt Iriand (Journal of the Norwegian Irish Committee) on the question of the Peace Movement. It is important because it makes clear why the bourgeoisie - not only in Britain but throughout the advanced capitalist nations - wants a Peace Movement to exist which can weaken the forces struggling against British Imperialism in Ireland. A deeper analysis of this Movement is still necessary but we print this article as a eontribution to that.

The other articles take up particular aspects of the struggle in the North. Cde Fitzgerald shows in his article on the recent Loyalist strike how this event confirmed rather than .

denied the turn towards Loyalism and increased repression by the British State. He also shows the essential weakness of the trade union movement in the six counties: that it is incapable of confronting the sectarianism that is essential to the six counties statelet and therefore incapable of defending the working class. Cde Greene examines this in more depth looking at the development of the Northern trade union movement and its essentially sectarian structure. He uncovers the reality behind the appearance of 'non-sectarian impartiality' in the six counties trade unions. Cde Collins' review contrasts the principled position of the Communist Party of Great Britain in the early twenties with its present reactionary position. Comrades should read William Paul's pamphlet (available from RCG Publications) and ~UI pamphlet Ireland: British Labour and Brifish Imperialism which takes up the CPGB's position in greater depth.

The appearance of this issue demonstrates that the ReG will continue the work of carrying anti-imperialist propaganda into

the British working class in order to lay the basis fora movement that will force British Imperialism out of Ireland. But we cannot do this on our own. We need the active support of all our readers, not only by donations and selling the Bulletin for us, but also by contributing to the Bulletin. We must have the widest possible discussion on the Irish question in order to defend the right of the Irish people to selfdetermination. All those who read this Bulletin and support its aims have a duty to play an active part in this work.

Terry Marlowe June 1977


publiaty given recently to the treatment of Irish political prisoners in English prisons, including the beatings of prisoners in Albany prison, Winson Green prison and in police custody in Birmingham and Merseyside as well as the defensive propaganda statements by the Home Office which have been put out to counteract the factual statements of prisoners and those campaigning for them, has tended to draw attention away from the methods by which these people were convicted and given long sentences. The fact is, however, that the methods of the British ruling classes and their servants in the police, the Department of Public Prosecution and on the Bench, should be of the utDloslconcern to all revolutionaries.


Of the 100 Irish political prisoners serving sentences in England, the vast majority of them, at least 90. were sentenced on conspiracy charges. Among them are prisoners sentenced in mass trials: nine young Belfast people were sentenced to life in Winchester in November 1973 after being charged with conspiring to cause explosions; eight young men were sentenced to 2·0 years at the Old Bailey in April 1975 on the same charge, although two of them eventually had their sentences reduced to 10 years because Judge Melford Stevenson had ignored the fact that they had in fact only been convicted in connection with 'incendiary devices; eight .Irishmen were

convicted on the same count in Birmingham in May 1975 and given sentences ranging from 14 to 10 years; seven Irishmen were tried on the same count in Coventry in April 1973, although in fact no explosions had occurred and four were convicted, one of whom, Proinsias Stagg, died on hunger strike in Wakefield in February 1976 while protesting at prison conditions, Three members of Luton Sinn Fein were sentenced to 10 years in St Albans in December 1973 on a charge of 'conspiring to rob persons unknown at a time and place unknown.' One of these men, Sean Campbell, had an arm, a leg and ribs broken in Albany in September 1976.

The way convictions are obtained on conspiracy counts has been a cause of concern for political radicalsand civil libertarians alike ever since the notorious 'Angry Brigade' trial in 1972 when Justice James said that conspiracy could be effected by a 'nod and a wink' and that conspirators did not necessarily have to be shown to know each other. In his book 'Whose Conspiracy?' Geoff Robertson has analysed the use of conspiracy charges against people engaged in alJ forms of political protest - sit ins, pickets and the organisers of demos. In Irish trials the prosecution has used conspiracy charges to introduce politicalevidence into the trial despite the fact that there are, allegedly, no political trials in England. In the trial of Noel Jenkinson in Winchester in November 1973 the prosecution introduced Maoist,

Marxist and Black Power literature as weh as membership cards ior the Communist Party and Civil Rights organisations, all as 'evidence' on a charge of 'conspiring to cause a public mischief' which was evenwally dropped. Some time later the higher courts decided that in fact there is no such offence. The judge at the Winchester trial, Sebag Shaw, refused a defence application for a re-trial but told the jurors to 'put out' of their minds all the evidence they had heard on this count. Noel Jenkinson was sentenced to a minimum of 30 years on murder charges, and died in Leicester prison while his case was in the process of being taken before the European Court of Human Rights. In the Coventry Seven trial part of the 'evidence' was a street map of Coventry and a Barnes and McCormack banner.


In conspiracy trials the police have used agents provocateurs. In June 1972 the prosecution had to drop conspiracy charges against six Irish people. It was subsequently revealed that the guns they had been accused of acquiring had come from police stores. In an interview with The Sunday Times, John Parker claimed that he had supplied them at the instigation of the police, He claimed a long record as a police agent and informer although the prosecution at the trial had had no intention of producing him as a witness. In March 1970, Eamonn Smullen and GerTY Doherty were


convicted at Leeds on the same count on the word of one Reginald Gee who claimed to have been acting on the advice of local police in offering arms for sale. Gee subsequently lost his gUD dealers licence, he was convicted of smuggling in France and spent some time in prison and now awaits trial on charges of robbing an art gallery. The Luton case referred to above was orchestrated by Kenneth Lennon who was found dead in Surrey in April 1974 after making a full confession of his part to the National Council for Civil Liberties. Nevertheless, the Court of Appeal under Lord Widgery upheld the conviction of the three Sinn Fein members.

Although it may be true that where the police use agents successfully the fact does not come out, in a recent case the police and prosecution have not scrupled to make use of a motley and dubious collection of agents. In April this year another member of Luton Sinn Fein, John Higgins,· was sentenced to to years on two counts under the Prevention of Terrorism Act - solicit.ing arms and soliciting radio equipment for the IRA. Although supposedly a 'new' offence the charge could well have been one of conspiracy. The 'evidence' against John Higgins was largely the word of notorious right-wing mercenary recruiters, especially Leslie Aspin and John Banks. Banks is a man whose name became a household word in 1976 when men he had sent to fight for the CIA in Angola were executed or sentenced to 30 years in prison by a court in Luanda. During the trial Banks claimed in an interview that he had taken part in almost every major international incident in the last few years, including the murder of a French cabinet minister, the supposed attempted assassination of 'Carlos' and the Arab-Israeli war. His claims are only rivalled by those of fellow agent, Aspin, in his books 'I,. Kovaks' and 'The Kovaks Contract'. Both of these men have openly claimed to be British agents yet their word carried weight with the jury against that of John Higgins, a man with a blameless record and no previous convictions although fellow Sinn Fein member Eddie Caughey was acquitted. A similarcase of blatant entrapment in a case involving drugs led to an outcry in the papers and the dropping of charges against those accused. Different standards obviously apply to the Irish.


The record of convictions in Irish cases should be no surprise when one considers the intimidatory methods used by the police to dramatise the trials, Juries at Irish trials since 1970 have arrived to consider their verdicts in courts which are virtual fortresses, patrolled by snipers and sniffer dogs. Not only jurors, but judges, lawyers and all spectators are frisked on entering and the supposedly still innocent defendants arrive in a convoy of squad cars with horns


blaring and lights on. All this is reported in lurid detail in national and local papers which then go on to report only the prosecution case, losing interest during the defence submissions and reviving only for the guilty verdicts and the sentences. The effect on juries of course is to convince them they are dealing with dangerous men who should be put away as soon as possible and it is an attitude reflected in judges' sentencing .. It is an indication of the fear felt by timid old men, conservative upholders of the status quo who are often too deaf Or too narrowminded to be able to hear or understand what the defendants say. In the Coventry case the judge gave the jury a confidential telephone number which they could call if they were threatened or intimidated. 'Innocent until proved guilty' is meaningless in this context.



One of the most disturbing developments in recent years has been the slight nature of the evidence on which convictions have been secured. A large number of prisoners are serving ufe sentences after trials at which the sole evidence has been alleged confessions. Among them are Paul Hill, serving the 'rest of his natura! life', Gerry Conlon, serving at least 35 years, Paddy Armstrong, serving at least 30 years, and Carole Richardson who were all amongst the first people to be arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act in December 1974. They claimed at their trial, where they were charged with the Guildford and Woolwich bombings, that they had been intimidated into making statements based on information supplied by the police. There was no forensic or any other evidence to connect them with the bombings and Carole Richardson had a sound alibi. In November 1974 six Irishmen were arrested and held in connection with the Birmingham pub bombs. Four made statements. Their appearance in court and photos taken in prison showed that they had suffered injuries. The 'statements' contained many inconsistencies and inaccuracies. At their trial in Lancaster they were given life sentences despite the admission by the judge that they had been assaulted. 14 warders were charged with assault and acquitted but actions against the police, who the men claim extorted the statements by violence, have had to be taken privately. Their convictions have been upheld by the Court of Appeal as being 'safe and satisfactory' .. At the trial for the M62 coach bomb, it was learned that the accused, Judith Ward, had made a statement admitting that she had actually placed the bomb on the coach. The police produced evidence to show that this was impossible as at the. time she ried been working with a circus many hundreds of miles away. She was convicted and sentenced to serve at least thirty years.

In March 1976 a family of five, the Maguires and family friend and a relation from Belfast were sentenced to periods of imprisonment ranging from 14 years for the adults to 5 and 4 years for two teenage boys for 'handling' explosives. The family had lived in London for nearly 20 years and their sons had been born there. No explosives had been found and they were not connected with any explosions. The only explosives in the case were 'traces' found on their hands by police forensic experts, and in the case of the mother, Anne Maguire, whose hands were clean, the traces were found on one pair of plastic gloves out of dozens which she had in a kitchen drawer .. Seven people were convicted exclusively on this 'forensic' evidence which an independent expert claimed had no reliability because the same positive results could be Obtained from many domestic substances.


The foregoing can only touch on some of the aspects of Irish political trials in England. Men and women have been sentenced to massive periods in prison - 30 of them are serving life sentences and eighteen are serving 14 years or more - on a combination of police propaganda. evidence of political beliefs, 'confessions' extorted by violence, the use of agents and informers, and dubious scientific evidence. Of those so convicted at least 19 are totally innocent, even of any involvement in Republican politics, and a number of others are guilty of nothing more than opposition to British rule in Ireland or of being members of Sinn Fein. Those who were involved in the military campaign have been given sentences double those given to Loyalists convicted of the same offences, and of course no British soldier has, so far, been convicted of the killing of unarmed civilians in Ireland. These trials are prototypes for the introduction into the English courts of a system of quasi-legal methods for dealing with political radicals. The Army in Northern Ireland is rehearsing for the plebian uprising in England; the judges, prosecuting counsel, DPP and police are rehearsing the trials which will follow - trials which will bear only a passing resemblance to what we have been brainwashed into thinking constitutes 'British justice'.

Jackie Kaye

Prisoners Aid Committee

Trade Unions in the North of ,Ireland

In the British labour movement there has heen considerable confusion about wbat, attitude to take to the Irish question. Many socialists, who realise the need to fight the capitalist class in Britain, despair at the sight of the deeply divided working class in the North of Ireland .. The immediate and instinctive response is to appeal for unity, and to seek to direct the struggle into one for better housing, working conditions and wages. Any act which seems to threaten this unity is immediately condemned. It is from this standpoint that support for the Better Life for All Campaign, and sympathy with the aims of the 'Peace People' flow.

But do such campaigns offer a real defence of the working class in the North of Ireland? Is the appeal for unity on economic issues the right way forward? The answers to these questions depend on what the cause of disunity is amongst the Northern Ireland working class.

It seems common-sense to apply to the Irish working class the same standards and principles which would be applied in Britain. The militant used to the British labour movement, where the employer tries to divide worker from worker by playing uponpolitica! and racial prejudices to disrupt workiitg class struggle, will advance a certain idea of unity. The need seems to be to fight all distractions from the struggle against the employer - whether from the religious intolerance of the Loyalists or the nationalism of the Republican. Thus British trade unionists attack both the sectarian terror campaign of the Loyalists directed against Catholics in general. and the military campaign of the Republicans directed against the RUC and the Loyalist militia _:_ the Ulster Defence Regiment. Instead, it is argued, the real campaign should be to demand better housing, more jobs, higher wages, equal education and adequate social services, and for peace.

It is true that, materially, the Northern Ireland working class suffers to a greater extent than does the British. The male. unemployment rate in March was 12.20/0 compared with 7.11170 in Britain. 20010 of housing is unfit for habitation, compared with 70/0 in Britain. 35% of all households live below the official 'needs level'. Last year 295 died during the troubles. The task is clearly enormous. But the calls for 'unity', 'peace' and a 'Better Life' cannot provide an answer. These are the calls of despair, which beg the real questions. 'Unity' - but how? 'Peace' - but what

kind of peace? When the answers are given to these questions, it becomes clear that the simple slogans, apparently non-sectarian, can only serve a section of the working class - the loyalist section - and are deeply sectarian in character.

To understand this, we must understand the basis for divisions in the Northern working class this century.

Divisions in the Working Class

James Connolly, the Irish Socialist and then Belfast organiser of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, tried to explain the problems to his British comrades in 1913. The working class, he argued, was so different in Northern Ireland, and faced such different problems from its British counterpart, that it bad to be approached with different methods.

' ... tbe doctrine that because the workers of Belfast live under the same industrial conditions as do those of Great Britain, they are therefore subject to the same passions and to be influenced by the same methods of propaganda, is a doctrine almost screamingly funny in its absurdity. '

A blunt judgement by a man familiar with and devoted to the working classes of both Britain and Ireland. Why did he think that the 'common-sense' view was absurd?

Connolly explained that the divisions in the Northern working class were due to the relatively privileged position enjoyed by the Loyalist section of the working class:

'At one time in the industria! world of Great Britain and Ireland the skilled labourer looked down with contempt upon the unskilJed and bitterly resented his attempt to get his children taught any of the skilled trades; the feeling of the Orangeman of Ireland towards the Catholics is but a glorified representation on a big stage of the same passions inspired by the same unworthy motives.'

Connolly was writing before partition. The truth of his remarks about the Protestant section of the working class, 'looking down' on the Catholics, can be seen from the 1901 census. (See Table I)

fhe fears of the Protestant workers that their Catholic fellow-workers might take over their privileged employment lay behind the frequent rioting and explains the ease with which the Ulster capitalists could win the support of Protestant workers for

anti-working class policies.

Shortly before Partition a majority of the Irish electorate supported Home Rule candidates in the 1918 election. The Ulster capitalists were bitterly opposed to Home Rule because it would put them outside the British Bmpire where their markets were. They also had to attack the working class. lowering its living standards and increasing unemployment, to keep up 'their profits. (See article by Stephen Palmer in Revolutionary Communist 6).

They told their workers that if Home Rule was accepted, then they would lose their jobs. Sinn Fein (the nationalists) were auackingthe working class, it was said. Sir Edward Carson, spokesman for the Ulster capitalists, speaking at the July 12th 1920 Orange demonstration, said:

' ... these men who come forward posing as the friends of Labour care no more about Labour than does the man in the moon. Their real object,and the real insidious object of their propaganda is that they may mislead and bring about disunity among our own people, and in the end, before we know where we are, we may find ourselves in the same bondage and slavery as in the rest of Ireland in the South and West .. .'

A few days later, Loyalist workers drove Catholics out of the shipyards, the major engineering firms, and some of the linen mills. In all lCKXXl men and 1000 women workers were expelled. Hundreds of Catholic families were evicted from Protestant areas.

The expelled Catholic workers were not replaced, and unemployment immediately increased to. 25%. Because the Protestant workers had identified their interests with. the Northern statelet, they also identified with the interests of the Unionist capitalists. This identification of interest with tbe bosses meant a subordination of working class needs to those of the Unionist ruling class. Thus it was not long before Loyalist workers accepted wage-cuts, in the interests of 'good order', The Ulster capitalists had been able to take advantage of the divisions in the working class to shed labour and drive down wages - not simply without resistance, but with the active cooperation of the majority of the working class.

Table 1

Catholics as a percentage of:

Belfast population


Carpenters and joiners 15.6%

Plumbers 11.6%

Engine and machine makers 10.0%

Fitters and turners I 1. 2(':{,

Bank employees 6.2%

. Millwrights 5.6%

Female domestic servants 42.2o/r·

(From G Bell The Protestants oj Ulster)


It was in this period that the trade unions in the North were put to their first real test, Their response has shaped trade union policy, both locally, and in Britain at the TUC. The situation demanded immediate forceful action. Only one union made any serious attempt to fight back against the pogroms. The Amalgamated Society of Carpenters and Joiners instructed their members not to accept employment from or remain in the employment of the firms where pogroms had taken place. 600 men obeyed their executive; some 2000 remained at work and wereexpelJed. The British Trade Union Congress refused to back up their determined stand against the pogrom, preferring to pass a motion, typically soothing in its phrasing, which demanded no concrete action. It called on the Parliamentary Committee 'to immediately take aU steps necessary to safeguard the interests of Trade Unionists denied the right to work in the Belfast area', but proposed no concrete steps. Having satisfied its conscience, the TUC ignored the Irish question.

The British trade unions, for fear of losing members, had taken no stand against the pogroms - except for passing resolutions. To 'maintain unity' of numbers, they tolerated the worst disunity possible. Thus the unions betrayed the democratic interests of the Catholic section of the working class - in the name of unity - by pandering to blacklegs, The trade unions play the same role today as they did at the time of Partition. (See the article in this issue on the Loyalist strike.)

It is Partition which preserves the divisions in the working class. The failure of the trade unions to accept this fact is what has turned calls for Peace and Unity into empty rhetoric and left the Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (NIC/ICTU) incapable of defending the interests of the en/ire working class.

The truth of the matter is, that outside of the limited sphere of defending their members' wages and conditions in the workplace, the trade unions are largely irrelevant to the Northern Irish working class. They have no impact on the fundamental problems facing the Northern working class. They have made no impact on unemployment. Since they represent the employed workers, they necessarily represent mostly Protestant workers. The Catholic section of the working class has been forced to endure colossal unemployment for decades, while Protestant workers have had far lower unemployment levels. Yet it is only recently, with the threat of redundancies to Protestant workers, that the NIC/ICTU has made any serious stand on unemployment. All this is done in the same language as is used on this side of the Irish sea, which gives this deeply sectarian stance the veil of non-sectarian impartiality.

Politically too, the trade unions tacitly


accept only the interests of Protestant workers. The political issue at the centre of the present troubles is Partition. To keep quiet on Partition is like keeping quiet on whether or not Apartheid should be overthrown in South Africa. One can be for or against the border, but one cannot maintain it and do away with it at the same time. Nor is il irrelevant - the jobs and houses which the trade unions call for are not going to fallout of the sky: they will have to be provided by a State. But which one? A British one or an Irish one? The NlC/ICTU has opted to call upon Westminster to implem-ent its programme, thus recognising Britiau's right to rule Ireland. Again the trade unions take a deeply sectarian stance which is concealed by not talking about the border at aU.

Unfortunately, a myth has become widely accepted that the trade unions are nonpartisan and defend the Northern working class as a whole. This has created a complacent and rosy picture in Britain of the role and influence of the trade union movement. The reality is very different from the myth of independence, influence, and progress. The trade unions are so weak that when the real attacks are made on the working class in the North by British capital, they will be powerless to organise a concerted defence,and the Catholic section of the working class will suffer the pogroms and sectarianism which occurred in 1921 and 1922.

To show this, it is worth looking at the most recent publicised campaign of the NIC/ICTU - the Better Life for All Campaign.

The Better Life for All Campaign

At the present time it is often argued that the way forward lies through support for the Better Life for AIl Campaign, organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and for initiatives taken by the Northern Ireland Committee of the ICTU.

This argument is dangerous. The Better Life for All Campaign cannot possibly defend the Northern Irish working class, It is vitally important that the British labour movement understands this, and the reasons for this, if it is to advance a policy which can defend the working class in the North of Ireland.

The demands of the campaign are;

The right to live free from violence, sectarianism, intimidation ana discrimination.

The right to security of employment and well paid work.

The right to associate freely and to advocate change by peaceful means. The right to good housing accommodation.

The right to equality of educational opportunity.

The right to adequate social services to

protect the well-being and living standards of the aged, the sick, the young, the unemployed and socially deprived.

These demands have a utopian character, and represent a plea rather than a political programme. The third demand is outright reactionary and sectarian. It sounds all very nice on paper, but in the real world it is a veiled demand that Republican workers abandon their struggle. They are the only ones advocating change. To expect them to do so peacefully faced with British and loyalist guns pointing at them is to demand that a section of the working class lie down while the tanks of the ruling class rumble 'peacefully' over them. Since it is not illegal 'to associate freely and to advocate change by peaceful means', the demand for this 'right' can only be a cover for the British state to put down any real attempt to change the situation of the Catholic minority.

In reality, the campaign only won any support as a campaign against unemployment from Protestant workers who are being thrown out of work on a serious scale for the first time in the last twenty years. This again illustrates the sectarian character of the NIC/ICTU.

The Better Life for All Campaign has tremendous publicity in Britain. Many articles have been written about it in trade union papers .. It has been supported by many trade union conferences. Yet in the North of Ireland itself, the BLFAC is dead, Only a handful of trade union activists work for it. It has no active support amongst the mass of the Northern Irish working class. It is true that it attracted tremendous support when it began, but that support vanished overnight. Of course it is possible to gather together enthusiasts specially to meet and to talk to delegations of British trade unionists. But these trade unionists have little support amongst the mass of Northern working people. The last march organised by the BLFAC, months ago, was very small. In short those who are calling for support in Britain for the BLFAC are asking trade unionists to support an organisation which lives virtually only on paper. The BLF AC is only the latest in a series of similar campaigns, making similar demands. None of these campaigns had any mass support, and none of them has been able to forge any permanent unity within the working class.

The Northern Ireland Committee has yet to do anything serious about discrimination. It has, of course, passed resolutions. But words alone do not put an end to discrimination. To give an example: the Ford Motor Company has a factory in Belfast, producing carburettors used in all Ford cars. The Autolite factory is situated in Andersonstown, a Catholic ghetto in West Belfast which suffers massive unemployment. Yet two-thirds of (he workforce is Protestant - many coming from as far away as Bangor and Portadown, ten or

twenty miles away. This is hardly surprising. It was discovered a few years ago that the then personnel officer was simply tearing up applications from Catholics. The man was not dismissed, but merely moved to another position with the same status and salary. The personnel officer who currently vets applications is a sergeant in the notably sectarian UDR.

Within the factory the Protestants hold the best jobs:

Yet the trade unions have done nothing to counter this discrimination. A look at these figures is enough to understand how empty the call for 'A Better Life' is to the minority.

More generally,employers are deducting money from Catholic workers pay packets so that the British state can recover arrears from the Rent Strikes which took place in opposition to Internment. Again, the trade unions let this attack take place without any attempt to defend the Catholics. To these

Table 2
Protestant Catholic Total Catholic as a '1r
of Total
Better Grade Jobs 306 73 379 19.3
Lower Grade Jobs 452 305 757 40.2
Total 758 378 1136 33.3 (Details about Autolite factory are taken from Unfree Citizen--Paper of People's Democracy)

Catholics the NICIICTU is nothing but another agent helping the British state enforce its domination. This shows how empty the calls for unity are.


Despite all assertions to the contrary, 'trade union issue-s' cannot be separated from Partition. To continue to make this separation will leave the working class defenceless, as we have seen in the examples above ..

Any serious defence of the Irish working class must place at its heart opposition to British imperialism. The failure of the NIC/lCTU to take this step means that it will be unable to defend the working class in the North.

A Greene

The Loya.list Strike •. Whose Defe.at?

'The need for "stability" and the need in the coming period to restrain wages and increase productivity in the North, point not to a withdrawal but to intensified repression, directed against the minority in the North'. (HOI I)

At first sight, the recent loyalist strike in the North contradicts the argument made in our first issue of Hands Off Ireland. After all, didn't the British Government and the British Army stand up to the loyalists? Haven't the extremists on the loyalist side been isolated and defeated? Certainly the bourgeois press would have us believe that this is so. However a closer look reveals that in fact the strike was not a defeat for loyalism, it was a defeat for the Catholic minority.

Why is this the case? If we take the two demands of the strike - increased repression of the republicans and restoration of Stormont - we can see that in the course of the strike the British state moved in the direction of meeting these demands. On the eve of the strike 3000 extra troops were flown into Ireland. Not to deal with the strike but, in the words of an Army spokesman,

'. .. to make sure the Provisional IRA does not take advantage of the situation.' (Irish Times 4.5.77)

On the third day of the strike Roy Mason told the Ballylumford power workers that security - a polite expression for the repression of the Catholic minority - had been stepped up and would continue to be stepped up. He stated that the RUe would be expanded to 6500 and re-equipped, the full-time UDR would be expanded to 1800,

that covert SAS operations would be increased, that ten mobile anti-terrorist RUe units were being established, and that anti-terrorist laws would be reviewed. Since the strike, pay for soldiers serving in the six counties has been increased and Mason plans to extend the period of duty for soldiers in order to render the repression of the Nationalist minority more efficient. The increase of pay indicates that Mason expects the Army to be in Ireland for some time yet. The day before the end of the strike Concannon (Northern Ireland Minister of State) announced in Parliament that limited devolution for the six counties was being considered. The plan that is being considered is one put forward by Molyneaux (Parliamentary leader of the Official Unionist Party) and does not contain even a formal commitment to power-sharing. He also announced more use of SAS and more intensive anti-terrorist training for the Army. In short the first demand of the strike is being carried out, and the talk of limited devolution is clearly a concession towards the second. Why then was the strike opposed by the British state and why, given unanimous support among the Loyalist sections for the demands of the strike, did the loyalist working class not support the strike itself?

The first thing to note about this strike is that not only was it not a failure. in terms of its stated aims, it was not even necessary. Indeed it was an embarrassment to the British state. As we argued in HOI I more direct repression of the Catholic minority is necessary for British Imperialism as is a turn to Loyalism. This is the strategy that British Imperialism is pursuing .. However

there is more than one way of skinning a rabbit,

Pan of British strategy is to isolate, as far as possible, the republican movement. To increase repression apparently in response to strike action by a section of the loyalists, would immediately generate a resurgence of support for the Provisional IRA and drive the SDLP into a pose of opposition to the British state. So on the one hand the British state has to implement the strategy called for by the UUAC, whilst on the other it has to appear to attack the UUAC. It is this tactical consideration that determined the British state's attitude to the strike. AU the same the 'firmness' of the British Army and the RUC should not be exaggerated. The Army, for example, whilst staging one or two mock confrontations with UDA members also increased its harassment of the Catholic areas. Most of the 3000 extra troops were deployed in the Catholic areas. Andy Tyrie, known leader of the UDA, has not been arrested despite all the protestations about intimidation. Nor were any moves made against the UDA or the UVF. Indeed Paisley had to force the RUC into arresting him. As for the VDR, the Kilkeel company of this wel.llrnown impartial body refused to answer the emergency call-out made at the beginning of the strike. Their reason? That they were not going to allow themselves to be used against the strikers. They were persuaded to change their mind when they were told that they would be used only to allow the security forces to prevent the Provisional IRA from taking advantage of the situation. Even so five members 'resigned. In Dungannon UDR took part in a pro-Paisley demonstration.


The division between the British state and the UUAC was purely tactical .and the moves made against the WAC were largely cosmetic.

A large part of the propaganda offensive of the British state during the strike was based on the lack of support for the strike. As nobody managed to uncover any opposition to the aims of the strike it needs to be explained why there was little support for the strike itself. There are two main factors involved here: the role of the press and Protestant unemployment. In 1974 the press described not only growing support for the UWC stoppage but also the threat that the UWC represented by saying that the six counties were on the verge of collapse. This line of reporting helped to persuade waverers to join the stoppage as the power of the UWC was being emphasised in the bourgeois press. This time the press consistently underplayed support for the strike and stressed the threat to jobs that the strike posed. This pushed waverers away from support. On the first day of the strike the press stressed thai work-levels were near normal, thereafter normality was daily re-achieved. In this way loyalist workers were given the impression that no support existed for the stoppage. Yet in fact support for the strike in its first days compared favourably with the 74 strike. On the second day of the strike a number of factories closed in and around Belfast. Coleraine, Larne, Lurgan, Porta down and Ballymena were brought toa halt. Six creameries were dosed and the Belfast Telegraph was not distributed. However the press concentrated on the places where work continued. The Ballylumford powerworkers are often cited as people who bravely stood up to intimidation. This hides the fact that they only finally decided against supporting the stoppage after Mason had promised increased security.

The other main reason for the lack of widespread and consistent support is the fact that unemployment is much higher now than it was in 1974. Protestants in certain areas have been made redundant. Harland and Wolff has tottered on the edge of collapse for some time. So the loyalist workers were much more afraid for their jobs than they were in the past. No doubt things like the announcement of £6qm worth of orders for Harland and Wolff a matter of days before the strike began helped keep workers at work. In other words it was not opposition to the demands of the UUAC but fear for their jobs which kept many loyalist workers at work.

So we can see that the simple view that the strike was defeated, that there was lack of support, that 'extremism is in retreat' and so on does not stand up to examination. The strike was a defeat for the minority as the increased security announced during the strike will be directed against them. 1t was a defeat in another way in that the SDLP, under the cover of the Government 'refusal


to capitulate' to the UUAC, have now come out openly in support for Mason and the RUC. This they didn't feel able to do before the strike. The strike was also a disaster for the Northern Ireland Trade Union movement. Elsewhere in this bulletin we examine the role and the fundamental weakness of the trade unions in the North. Here we will look at what they did during the strike.

One thing is clear - the strike was aimed at the suppression of the Catholic minority and the oven restoration of the loyalist ascendancy. This should have been the starting point for the trade unions. It was obvious that the strike was a sectarian strike against the Catholic minority, that the aims of the strike were directed against that same minority. Consequently a campaign should have been mounted in defence of the Catholic minority against not only the strike itself but also its aims. However the trade unions instead played right into the hands of the state. The Northern Ireland Committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (NIC/ICTU) issued a number of statements in collaboration with the CBI and the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce. These statements did not attempt to defend the Nationalist minority but instead attacked the strike on the grounds that it was political and that it would do great damage to the economy . In other words in order to avoid confronting loyalism head on, the NIC/ICTU preferred to adopt the arguments of the bourgeoisie. What strike isn't condemned by the bourgeoisie as politically motivated? What strike isn't condemned as a threat to the economy? What were the strikes against the Industrial Relations Act if not political strikes? What would the NIC/'CTU say about these strikes? The N1C/ICTU because it tries to ignore the issue that is at the centre of the Irish crisis - the issue of partition - has to ignore the fact that this stoppage was a blow struck at the Nationalist population and therefore has to find different groups for opposing it. And the only ones they can find are those of the bourgeoisie. In their joint statement they pointed to what they described as 'progress towards industrial stability and job creation'. This in a period when working class living standards have been cut back and unemployment has risen dramatically. They worried about 'firms large and small with severe cash flow problems'. Never mind the 'cash flow problems' of the working class! They worried about the ability of 'industry to deliver the goods'. Never mind that these goods, in the six counties, depend on sectarianism, on a divided and defeated working class. Sandy Scott's argument to the Harland and Wolff workers took the form of describing those who stayed at work as 'the real loyalists'. Never mind that the struggle in Ireland is actually between the loyalists - that is all who support the right of British Imperial-

ism to rule in the North - and those struggling for self-determination. The 'determination' of the NIC/ICTU even led to the abandonment of the May day march planned for May 7th. This is the weakness of the trade union movement in the six counties. It cannot even hold a May day march when there is a loyalist strike aiming at smashing the Nationa.list minority. Finally, the chairman of the ICTU at its annual conference on 11 th May 1977 after congratulating Roy Mason and the RUC said

'All sections of the community have a valuable part to play in the fight against terrorism .... Government has the responsibility to examine closely any constructive suggestion and, within the context of the overall community, needs 10 irnplement those which will help safeguard the right to live without fear of intimidation OT violence.' (Irish Times 12.5.77)

Indeed the defence of the working class was such that Roy Mason sent a message to the Conference saying that he was

'." very conscious that we have been well served by the trade union leadership at all levels.' (Irish Times 12.5.77)

The latest strike only confirms that the NIC/ICTV, because it is based on the sectarianism that the Northern statelet itself is based on, cannot defend either the Nationalist minority or the working class as a whole.

So we can see that the strike has been a defeat both for the Nationalist minority and for the organisations of the working class in Northern Ireland. Whatever consideration may have divided the British state and certain sections of loyal ism during the strike they are now united behind the drive against the Catholic minority. The NIC/ICTU has shown as clearly as it can do that it cannot confront the sectarianism of the loyalist workers who make up the majority of its membership, that it can play no role in the struggle in Ireland except as a cheerleader to the bourgeoisie. Finally the strike has confirmed that the British state is now carrying out and will intensify direct repression of the Catholic minority. There is no solution for the Nationalist section short of a re-united Ireland and the defeat of British Imperialism. Nor, as the helplessness of the NIC/ICTU demonstrated, is there any possibility of uniting the Irish working class short of the defeat of British Imperialism and the unity and independence of Ireland.

John Fitzgerald

Police P wers and the of Terrorism

Law is not something which exists or is created in a vacuum but develops out of the existing social and economic relations prevailing at a given time. Thus laws are formed by men situated in definite social relations in a definite historical epoch, and are produced to meet definite problems and circumstances. In that sense therefore all laws are a political statement because they say something about the structure of society and the dominant interests in that society. So it was with the Prevention of Terrorism Act. an Act born out of the relauonship between Britain and Ireland, a relationship which, for the past 300 years has been one of colonialism, of which the Six Counties is the last vestige.

It is in this context that the Prevention of Terrorism Act must be understood, an Act which is the latest of a long line of repressive legislation passed by British Governments concerning Irish affairs. Before this Act the British met resistance to their rule by the Act of Indemnity, an Act passed to give immunity from prosecution for criminal acts committed during the repression of the United Irishmen at the end of the 1790s. In 1922 the Special Powers Act became law giving, amongst other things, wide powers of search and arrest, and also permitted detention without trial. This Act was initially renewable for one year but was renewed every year until 1928 when it was renewed for a further five years; in 1933 it became a permanent feature of the legislation of the North of Ireland. The Special Powers Act was repealed in 1973 and replaced by the Emergency Provisions Act. Although the Special Powers Act made a nonsense of civil rights in the Six Counties, the Emergency Provisions Act was in some ways even more draconian, abolishing trial by jury for certain serious offences. Those measures have been a. part of the reaction to the struggle for a united Ireland, a struggle that has of course changed its character through history. The Special Powers Act and the Emergency Provisions Act were of particular Significance to the most recent manifestation of this struggle which commenced in 1968, escalating from a series of protests against discrimination and for civil rights to an all out war to end the British link with the North of Ireland.

It was in an attempt to force the British Government to withdraw troops from the Six Counties that in the summer of 1973 the Provisional IRA commenced its bombing campaign on the British mainland. Prior to that the only significant explosions had

been in Aldershot on February 22nd 1972 and on March 8th 1973 at the Old Bailey. These two incidents however were not part of a concerted and organised campaign. The provisionals' campaign started with tbe planting of incendiary devices in a number of well known London stores but towards the end of the year incendiaries had in the main given way to high explosives. In addition the area of attack expanded to take in Birmingham and Manchester. In 1974 there were further explosions including a car bomb in May at Heathrow Airport, an explosion at Westminster HalJ, Houses of Parliament in June in which 1 I persons were hurt, and in July a bomb exploded at the Tower of London killing one woman and injuring 35 other persons.

Despite pressure placed on the then Horne Secretary, Roy Jenkins, from press ami Parliament he took the view that the bombing campaign did not necessitate any new legislative measures specifically designed to deal with it. This was a view that was shared by the police and indeed they seemed to be having some success. By using their existing powers the police throughout 1974 bad made periodic arrests, generally under the EXplosive Substances Act 1883 or the Firearms Act 1968. A number of persons were charged in relation to bomb incidents throughout 1973 and 1974 and were subsequently convicted at trials both in London and Birmingham.

The bombing onthe night of Thursday 21st November 1974 of the Mulberry Bush and the Tavern in the Town, two Birmingham Public Houses, which caused 21 deaths and many injuries, finally prompted the Labour Government to introduce legislation specifically aimed at 'preventing acts of terrorism'. The Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1974 became law on 29th November 1974 after being rushed through Parliament in a matter of twelve hours. There was not a single vote against it. Such criticism as was voiced considered that the Act was not tough enough. Yet the Prevention of Terrorism Act represented one of the biggest attacks that there has been during peace time on the rights and freedoms of the people of Britain. It significantly extended the powers of the police and placed in the hands of the executive in the shape of the Home Secretary a discretionary power over which there was little Or no control. The Labour Party, a party that claimed to defend rights and liberties and which had its origins in the labour movement,s movement which has

revention -I

struggled throughout its history to establish the rights of workers, was now responsible for placing on the statute book one of the most iniquitous pieces of legislation this century.

There was some criticism that the Act had been hurriedly drafted and that it must therefore have been ill drafted, but it was more. likely that the Bill had been prepared well in advance for just such a contingency. Rather than being ill drafted the Prevention of Terorisrn Act combined precision and ambiguity in such a way as to give the police almost unprecedented powers, both de/octo and de jure, and to place them in a position when operating under it that was difficult to challenge.

The Act was in three parts. Part I dealt with proscribed organisations, Part II, exclusion orders, and Part II1 contained general and miscellaneous provisions.

The provisicns concerning proscribed organisations enabled the Home Secretary to ban organisations which appeared to hi.m to be concerned in terrorism occurring in the United Kingdom and connected with Irish affairs. It also made it illegal to be a member, or to support financially or otherwise a proscribed organisation, or to make or receive contributions,arrange meetings, or to display support in public for a proscribed organisation.

The second part of the Act, relating to exclusion orders, empowered the Home Secretary to exclude from the British mainland, or prevent from entering, any person he believed to have been involved in 'the commission, preparation, or instigation' of acts of terrorism. No order could be made against a person who was a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies and who had been ordinarily resident in Great Britain for 20 years, or who had been born in Great Britain and who had been living in Great Britain throughout his life.

This was probably one of the greatest attacks on civil liberties contained in the Act. For the first time since the Poor Law the concept of deportation from one pan of the state to the other was reintroduced. There was no appea.l aSainsl an exclusion order although the Act did provide for representations to be made. These representations had to be made to the Home Secretary in writing within a defined period of the exclusion order being served. The Act referred to making representations rather than to an appeal The use of language is significant because the right to make representations did not confer any


additional right to a fonnal hearing in public with tb.e benefit of being legally represented, things which one nonnally associates with an appeal. When representations had been made then the Home Secretary, if he considered that they were not frivolous would direct one of two advisers appointed by him for this purpose to interview the detainee.

The adviser conducted the interview without any knowledge of the evidence upon which the exclusion order had been made in the first place thus denying the detainee the opportunity of answering any allegations that had been made against him. In addition, the detainee was not permitted to be represented by a lawyer or by any other person during such interview. However, the most pernicious aspect of this was that neither the detainee nor his solicitor was permitted to know the evidence upon which

. the exclusion order had been made. Those making representations and their legal advisers were therefore placed in an impossible position as they were unable to refute the allegations that fonned the basis of the police report to the Home Secretary. In short, the whole process was a bogus procedure to circumvent the normal judieial process and to deny those served with an exclusion order the right to a fair and proper hearing in public. These provisions placed the police in a very strong position for it enabled them to use unsubstantiated allegations, snippets of information that may be third or fourth hand hearsay, and could all be presented as evidence which if accepted by the Home Secretary could have a devastating effect on the life and family of a person subsequently excluded. Like internment, of which it is a form, exclusion is a negation of the principle of innocence until guilt is proven and represented a fundamental departure from established safeguards. It is essentially a means of geting rid of people whom the authorities believe to be engaged in acts of terrorism but against whom there is insufficient evidence to obtain a conviction before a Court. This point is illustrated by the case of Edward Forrest. Edward James Forrest, a barman in a Fleet Street Public House, was arrested in October 1974 and charged with possession of explosives. On Monday 6th January 1975 at ClerkenweH Magistrates' Court the prosecution offered no evidence and Forrest was discharged. Throughout this whole period Forrest had been in custody. As be walked from the Court he was immediately arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and taken to Bruton Prison where an exclusion order was served on him. Forrest did not make any representations and two days later be was flown to the North of Ireland. On arrival in the Six Counties, Forrest was not interned as a suspected terrorist and nor indeed have any of the others who have been returned to the North of Ireland under the provisions of the Act. As at the 11 th October 1976 that figure stood at 53.


It is however Part III of the Act concerned with general and miscellaneous provisions that has done most to strengthen the powers of the police. The Act provides that the police may arrest, without warrant, any person whom they reasonably suspect to be concerned 'in the commission, preparation, or instigation of acts of terrorism'. An act of terrorism can embrace any kind of activity from providing information to the actual planting of bombs and the police have arrested persons simply because they were known to have sold Republican papers or been involved in Sinn Fein, a legal organisation concerned in political propaganda work. In addition, the police have attempted to widen the definition of what constitutes an act of terrorism. In this respect the case of Margaret O'Brien is important.

Mrs O'Brien, together with her husband and their 15 year old daughter were arrested under the Act at the end of March 1976. Mrs O'Brien was secretary of the Irish Civil Rights Association (Britain) and part of her work involved the raising of money for the dependants of Republican prisoners in Britain. The police were interested in this particular activity of Mrs O'Brien's and during interrogations made it clear that they intended to apply to the Home Secretary for an exclusion order. The police argument was that by raising funds for the dependants of convicted 'terrorists', Mrs O'Brien was involved in terrorist acts herself. Here was an attempt by the police to extend the definition of an act of terrorism to new boundaries which had it succeeded would have meant the end of a lot of charitable work undertaken on behalf of the dependants of internees and convicted prisoners. In fact no exclusion order was made and Mrs O'Brien and the rest of her family were subsequently released.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act defined terrorism as 'the use of violence for political ends (including) any use of violence for the purpose of putting the public or any section of the public in fear'. With the Home Secretary's power to ban organisations concerned in terrorism or encouraging it, this ambiguous definition lends itself to much abuse; it would enable the banning of organisations opposed to the use of terrorism but who supported the right of the Irish to choose their own tactics in their struggle for self determination. Moreover, violence on a demonstration in connection with 'Northern Irish affairs' could result in the banning of all the organisations on that demonstration if the Home Secretary took the view that a section of the public was put in fear. This ambiguity on a matter central to the Act is contrary to a fundamental principle of English law, namely that statutes that impose criminal sanctions ought to be certain in their terms. Further, the uncertainty in. the definition has far reaching consequence-s as to the terms of reference of

the Act. Thus, while it was passed as a result of matters connected with Ireland and ostensibly to deal with terrorism related to Ireland, certain sections of the Act clearly could be applied to matters that have nothing whatsoever to do with Ireland. This has wide implications for the labour movement for it would enable the state to use the Act to combat a political strike should violence break out, say, on a picket line, or even if it was thought that the presence and activities of the picket was likely to put 'a section of the public in fear'. The arrest provisions of the Act, unlike other sections of the Act are not qualified by any caveat relating to Ireland. Most of the other sections which impose criminal sanctions or create new offences are qualified by the term, 'connected with Northern Irish affairs'.

The Act provides that a constable may arrest a person whom he reasonably suspects to be concerned in the 'cornmission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism'. Given the definition of terrorism in the Act and the absence of any caveat relating to Ireland this section could prove an important weapon to the state in any possible conflict with the organised working class. Because of its associations with the Irish question and the use of terrorism this possible use of the Act to a large extent was not realised and was practically ignored by the workers' movement,

In addition to being able to arrest suspects, the Act provides the police with the power to detain such persons for up to 48 hours and then for a further five days with the authority of the Home Secretary. As regards persons arrested arriving or leaving the country however the Act provided for the detention of such persons for up to seven days and then for a further five days with the Home Secretary's authority, a total of 12 days. During the period of detention a person did not have to be charged with an offence or brought before 2. Court.

The police have long been able to arrest a person whom they reasonably suspect to have committed an arrestable offence and to detain such person for questioning, but their powers of detention had previously been limited by the requirement that a suspect had to be brought before a Magistrates' Court as soon as is reasonably practical. The Prevention of Terrorism Act therefore, for the first time gave to the police the power to hold a person in custody up to seven days or 12 days, depending upon where the arrest took place, and to interrogate such persons without the necessity of having. to bring that person before a Court. On the face of it this represented a significant strengthening of police powers .. In actual fact however· it merely legitimised police malpractice. It has long been the case that police have arrested persons and detained them in

custody for the purpose of interrogation for periods up to seven days and even more. This was implicitly recognised by Roy Jenkins, the Home Secretary, when he said of the provision that 'it regularises police powers of arrest and detention', so seeking to justify present repression by past abuse. In addition, such malpractice had always been subject to an application in the High Court for a Writ of Habeas Corpus which would at least have the effect of forcing the police to justify the arrest. The Prevention of Terrorism Act however excluded that possibility, for once an extension had been granted by the Home Secretary, the Court would not go behind the exercise by the Home Secretary of his discretion. In this sense the Act has resulted in a suspension of the right of Habeas Corpus of persons arrested under it.

The power of arrest combined with the power to detain for up to seven days proved to be one of the most important as far as the police are concerned. It enables the police to go on 'fishing trips' for information. This is indicated by the fact that by l Ith October 1976 there had been 2023 arrests under the Act. Of that number 100 had been charged with offences but only ten charged with offences under the Act. The other offences included murder, attempted murder, conspiracy to cause explosions and unlawful possession of explosives, all offences in respect of which there were sufficient powers already in existence to arrest a person suspected of committing them. By arresting such persons under the Prevention of Terrorism Act the police were simply keeping open the option of being able to obtain a further five days detention. That the police had been using the Act for the purpose of gathering information is established by the fact that persons arrested under the Act have been surprised to find themselves questioned, not about any particular alleged act of terrorism, but about their friends, contacts, places where they socialised, their political . and trade union activities. I t may be argued that the gathering of information is a necessary part in the prevention of terrorism. However, it would seem that the information sought by the police from those they arrested went far beyond matters connected with terrorism. The Act has provided the police with the means of building up dossiers of information on political militants and activists. Certainly the police had this power before and certainly they obtained information by various methods, but the police did not previously have the power to arrest persons with a view to obtaining such information direct. This is perhaps the most valuable power that the Act gave to the police.

In relation to the powers of arrest and detention, the Act contains provisions concerning steps that may be taken to identify a person detained under it that represent a significant and far reaching

extension ot pollee powers. Schedule 3 of the Act enables the police and certain other specified persons to photograph and fingerprint those arrested and detained under it. No charge has to be brought. The previous position had been that the police could take fingerprints only once a person had been charged with an offence and should he refuse to consent then the police were bound to apply 10 a Magistrate for a warrant. Once a warrant had been granted, then and only then could the police use reasonable force to take the fingerprints. As far as the taking of photographs was concerned there was no right whatsoever to take photographs of persons in police custody whether charged or not. The Prevention of Terrorism Act however alters this in relation to arrests under the Act. Moreover, fmgerprints and photographs are retained and filed, unlike the position of a person who has been charged with an offence and is subsequently acquitted where the police are obliged to destroy the fingerprints. The Act thereforeauthorises the keeping of fingerprints and photographs of persons, the overwhelming majority of whom it has been shown have no connection whatsoever with terrorism. The implications of such a practice are wide when one considers what has been said about the building of dossiers on political militants and activists.

The power to take photographs is confined to arrests made under the Act. But a number of reports seem to indicate that it has now become police practice to take photographs of persons in nearly all cases when a charge is made. There is no authority for this whatsoever despite a Horne Office comment that it is in the same tradition as fingerprinting. It is also clear that where the police are following this practice no attempt has been made to inform the person charged of his or her right to refuse. Having therefore been granted the power under one Act, the Prevention of Terrorism Act, the police it would appear have de facto extended that power to encompass practically any other type of arrest.

In addition to wide powers of arrest, the Act gave to the police extensive powers of search and seizure. Thus Schedule 3 provides that the police may stop and search anyone before arrest to see if an arrest is justified under the Act. The previous position had been that the right to stop and search had been confined to a few specific offences eg drugs and firearms. This provision enables the police to stop and search almost anyone whom they wish, given the wide definition of their powers of arrest under the Act.

There were also provisions that enabled the police to enter any property by force without a search warrant, provided that a Superintendent gave his written authority. Here again there was an important depart" me from existing safeguards that require

that, save for a person who is actually arrested on property, a warrant must be obtained from a Magistrate ..

The Prevention of Terrorism Act was passed initially for a period of 6 months. It was renewed in May 1975 and at the time the Home Secretary made a promise that it would not be further renewed. Despite that promise in November 1975 an order was laid before Parliament to renew the Act for four months when it would be replaced by a new Act. Thus on 25th March 1976 the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1976 was passed which repealed and re-enacted with amendments the 1974 Act. Tbe 1976 Act was however more permanent than its predecessor, being renewable every 12 months. Again the Act became law with little oppositlon. This was so even though the Act's declared aim of preventing terrorism did not measure up to what was happening in reality. By the end of October 1975, of the 949 persons detained under the Act only 51 were subsequently charged with any offence whatsoever. Of the remaining 898, 17 were returned by way of exclusion order to the Republic of Ireland and a further 36 to the North 0 f Ireland where nine were interrogated again but then released. Of the 51 persons charged with offences eight were charged with murder, or attempted murder, 14 with possessing or attempting to use explosives and one with an offence involving firearms. The other offences charged included robbery, theft and burglary, handling a stolen vehicle, attempted crimina! deception, conspiracy to defraud the Inland Revenue, assisting offenders and, ironically, wasting pollee time.

Despite evidence that the Act was being used by the police to gather information rather than to apprehend terrorists, the 1976 Act became law with additional teeth. It created two new offences; making contributions towards acts of terrorism (as distinct from contributions to proscribed organisations which offence had been created by the 1974 Act and was continued in the 1976 Act) and of withholding information about acts of terrorism from the police. Both offences were punishable by a maximum of five years imprisonment. The Act also contained an amendment which permitted exclusion from the North of Ireland, thus enabling persons to be sent from the Six Counties to Great Britain.

There was one concession in the new Act. The period during which representations against an exclusion order had to be made was increased from 48 hours to 96 hours, However, there was still no fight to be represented before the adviser appointed by the Home Secretary and nor was there any relaxation of the principle that neither the solicitor nor the person subject to an exclusion order would be allowed to learn the nature of the police evidence.

The ambiguities in the Act, the uncertainties, and wide definitions combined with the


extensive powers granted to the police had a general intimidatory effect. The very existence of the Act diScouraged persons from being involved in political activities on the Irish question for fear of attracting the unwelcome attention of the police and those already engaged in Republican political activities censored them so that there was a general decline in the level of political activity amongst those opposing Britain's domination of Ireland. As an example of the extent of these fears there have been cases where Irishmen have left union meetings when motions on Ireland were to be discussed ..

Not only has the Act itself had an intimidatory effect but the method in which the police operated under the Act was designed to intimidate. This was so in a number of ways. For example, persons detained and arrested under the Act have been threatened with deportation even though this could not have been carried out because those arrested had the necessary residence qualifications. Such however was the ignorance about the provisions of the Act that these threats could have some effect and achieved the end of coercing the person into answering police questions. The police have also arrested persons pursuing legal political ends in the hope that their tactics would dissuade others from taking part. As has already been indicated, this policy had some success .. In an attempt to disrupt the activities of the legal Republican. organisations, Sinn Fein and Clan na h'Eireann, the police have arrested several of those in the leadership of the organisations. John Higgins, secretary of Luton Sinn Fein, together with his wife Maureen, were arrested at the end of October 1975 on arrival in Liverpool from a Sinn Fein conference in Dublin. They were arrested by the Special Branch and Mr Higgins was detained for three days and his wife for a period of four days. Not once during their period of detention was either of them questioned.

A disturbing feature of police policy has been their refusal in almost every case to permit a person arrested to have access to a solicitor. There is a set of rules laid down governing police procedure on arrest and interrogation of suspects known as the Judges' Rules. The Judges' Rules dated back to 1906 and were developed to deal with the 'admissibility in evidence against a person of answers oral and written, given by that person to questions. asked by police officers and of statements made by that person'. Enshrined in the Judges' Rules is the principle that every person at any stage of an investigation should be able to communicate and to consult privately with a solicitor. The right of a person detained by the police for questioning to have a solicitor is therefore clearly stated. The principle however is subject to an important proviso, oameJy that access to a solicitor should not cause an unreasonable delay Or hindrance


to the process of investigation or administration of justice .. As far as arrests under the Prevention of Terrorism Act are concerned it would appear that the police have operated this proviso in nearly every case. Courts have never given any authoritative guidance as to what constitutes circumstances that justify the police in refusing a suspect the right to speak to his lawyers. However, as the right of access has been built into the Judges' Rules then to mean anything it must surely be that the proviso is intended for the exceptional rather than the normal case. The mere fact that a person is suspected. of offences connected with terrorism does not make it exceptional.

It should be pointed out though that even in non-terrorist cases the police are reluctant to grant access to a solicitor and one survey found that 740/0 of those who had asked to see a solicitor were refused. Nevertheless, it seems that in cases connected with terrorism that percentage is far higher and therefore one more safeguard, limited though it may be. has been set aside by police practice. The Judges' Rules unfortunately have no legal force and are only administrative directions. There was an attempt by some MPs during the debate 00 the 1976 Act to have the right of access toa solicitor incorporated into the Act. This right was to be subject to the same proviso mentioried previously. The amendment was defeated but even if it had succeeded police practice in the past suggests that the proviso would have been operated just as regularly as it had been previously.

The length that the police will go to refuse access was illustrated by the case of Margaret Cowley who was arrested under the Prevention of Terrorism Act a few days before she was due to appear at Marylebone Magistrates' Court on 19th December 1974. Miss Crowley's lawyers approached the police seeking information about the arrest but were given no assistance. Difficulty was even encountered in ascertaining at which police station she was being held. The police were reminded that Miss Crowley was due to appear at the Magistrates' Court in a few days time and the lawyers were informed by both the police and the Metropolitan Police Solicitors that she would be brought there even if she was still being detained under the Act. Despite these assurances however, the police failed to produce her at Court. This was clearly a measure taken by the police to prevent access for later she informed her lawyers that during the period of her detention which lasted seven days she was questioned only once every day for no longer than 30 minutes or so. Even if she had been brought to Court it became 'Clear that the police would have attempted to prevent her lawyers from seeing her at Court. This is the interpretation that must be drawn from the note on the prosecution brief that was seen by one of the defendant's lawyers to

the effect that the representative of the defence solicitor was not to be permitted to see Miss Crowley. It is no wonder therefore that one of the lawyers acting in the case complained that under the Act we were living under a police state when the police were clearly interfering with the administration of justice.

Combined with the refusal to permit an arrested person to contact his solicitor it has also been police practice to hold incommunicado all persons arrested under the Act. It is not unusual fora person to be held in custody for three days or more and released without that person's friends or relatives knowing where he or she was as the case of Declan Trainer shows. Trainer. a student, was returning from a Christmas visit to his parents in the North of Ireland. He was arrested at Heathrow Airport but neither his relatives nor his college were informed. It was only discovered he was . being held by police when police visited his address in London to ascertain that he did live there, After being released Trainer said, 'We were never given any reason for the detention and I was only questioned for a period of about 15 minutes during the whole time that the police held me'.

The Prevention of Terrorism Act represented a fundamental departure from established principles and safeguards. Not even the Prevention of Violence Act 1939, the last piece of legislation passed in Britain specifically directed at acts of terrorism connected with the North of Ireland, had gone to the extent of banning. political organisations. It had given the police wide unprecedented powers to arrest and detain persons, and to take steps to identify such persons. It bad provided for the deportation of persons from one part of the state to another and had denied the right ofa proper hearing with legal representation. These powers were granted only in respect to arrests and offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act, but we have seen how loose the definition of terrorism has been drawn and bow wide an area of activity that can be encompassed within it. The dangers inherent in the Act are twofold. First, the extraordinary powers granted to the police establish a precedent that might well become accepted as the norm with their consequent extension to 'ordinary' crime. This is by no means an unlikely event for it has to be seen in the light of the current debate to restrict the right to trial by jury and moves to change the rules of procedure and the laws of evidence in criminal cases so that they are more favourable to the prosecution. Should such an extension OCCUI then it would amount toa severe curtailment of democratic rights. Second, the Act has effectively restricted political freedom and eroded freedom of speech, dearly so on matters connected with the North of Ireland. These are rights and liberties that have been won only by bitter and often bloody struggle

over many centuries. The existence of the Act demonstrates how ineffect.ive Parliament is in defending those rights.

Brian Rose-Smith

Brian Rose-Smith is a socialist lawyer who has handled a number of cases under the PTA.


The gigantic headlines in the bourgeois press on the brave 'peace women' of Northern Ireland, with massiveappeals to the Norwegian people to give contributions to the 'People's Peace Prize' have now disappeared, and the time is ripe for reflections on what they really supported - these people who gave their money to the so-called 'Peace Movement'.

How did the 'Peace Movement' arise'?

The excuse for starting the so-called 'peace demonstrations' was found by two women in a tragic accident last summer. The wellknown IRA man Danny Lennon was shot and killed by British soldiers while driving his car, thereby driving into the pavement and killing three children. The accident was immediately presented in the British press as another example of 'the inhuman terror of the IRA'; and the 'peace people' swallowed this propaganda hook, line and sinker and soon themselves became a part of it. Their immediate target was the Irish liberation movement, led by the IRA, while the acts of violence committed by the British army of occupation, mainly suffered by the people In the Catholic workers' ghettos of Belfast, was hushed up.

Typically enough, the murder of the twelve year old Majella O'Hare by British soldiers the same day was hardly mentioned in the 'peace propaganda', while they found it necessary to 'protest' when British soldiers killed innocent people in the Turf Lodge area soon after - to avoid being totally discredited in the Catholic population where they had some support at the start. This again led to Mairead Corrigan, the aunt of the three children who were killed, getting an ultimatum from the protestant members of the movement, and soon after the leaders came out with a statement of support for the British army and the hated gestapo-police force - the RUe.

Since then the political role of the peace movement has been clear. They could win some support on their confused and apparently progressive formulations in the flISt days, but after that their support declined. When they were measuring their strength against that of the Provisional Sinn Fein on 23rd October, 7000 people Joined the 'Peace People' while 10000 joined tbe Provisional demonstration under the banner 'Peace with Justice'. Since then the opposition has increased, and the 'Peace People' have wisely stayed away from the workers' quarters ...

When the peace people found they were rapidly losing support in Northern Ireland they started travelling and campaigning abroad. especially in England and West Germany where they were able to collect enormous amounts of money from the major firms within the Common Market, especially from those having direct economic interests in Northern Ireland. (.".)

In Norway and in the rest of Europe the bourgeois press were writing about 'the brave peace women of Northern Ireland' who 'dared oppose the IRA'. Leading this campaign for the 'Peace women', mixed with rabid attacks on the Irish liberation movement, was the conservative British press, and the Springer-press in West Germany. This led several prominent German citizens, among them tbe president of the Bundestag (Walter Scheel) to suggest Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan as candidates for the Nobel Peace Prize. (West Germany has a large amount of capita] invested in Northern Ireland). When it became clear that this suggestion came too late to be considered, a. Norwegian paper (Faedrelandsvennen, liberal in name, conservative in attitudes) suggested giving them instead a 'People's Peace Prize', and tried in that way to connect this with what happened in 1973 when the progressive Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara received this prize in protest against the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize that year was given to Henry Kissinger. In this way the Irish women's Peace Prize was given a radical alibi, and the Nobel committee indirectly supported this strategy by not giving out the Prize proper for that year and vocally supporting the People's Peace Prize. Papers in Norway that had opposed givi.ng the prize to Archbishop Camara started the process of collecting money for the 'peace people'.

Thousands of 'Kroner' poured in from Norway, Germany, England and the USA. Norwegian industrialists and shipowners with extensive economic interests in Northern Ireland contributed vast amounts of money (names can be supplied). The extensive ideological support also led many ordinary men and women to give money 'for a good cause'. Some confused feminist groups got the impression that this had something to do with tbe women's liberation struggle. Certain pacifist groups were

also idoologically pressured to give support and money.

It soon became evident that the people leading the campaign were more interested in crushing the Irish liberation movement than supporting the struggle for peace-eg the paper Morgenb/adet (extremely conservative) that-from the start. warmly supported the 'peace movement', giving vastly overestimated figures of half a million people supporting the campaign in its first days, was at the same time publishing articles by officers from the Norwegian army emphasizing the importance of Northern Ireland not' falling into the hands of the liberation army', but that this area had to be defended at all costs as an important Link in NATO's defence.

The suddenness of this campaign and the extensive support in the Norwegian press disarmed aoy opposition from the Norwegian left. The only way the left can counter such propaganda is to give factual information on the conditions in Northern Ireland and build a strong anti-imperialist front supporting the Irish liberation movement and the right of the Irish people to selfdetermination.

From Fritt Irland No 1 - 1977

INTERNMENT WITHOUT TRIAL I ntroduced 9th August 1971.


Assemble 2.30 The Crown, Gricklewood.

March to Hyde Park for a rally.

Leading members of Sinn Fein will speak.



The Irish Crisis published in 1921, has now been reprinted by the Cork Workers Club half a century later. Justas In 1921, the Irish question has today become a major issue for the British working class movemeat, and the political influence of the Communist Party takes on great importance. It is revealing to compare their political stand today with that of the young Communist Party in the twenties.

Gordon Mcl.ennan, national secretary of the Communist Party, on a recent tour of Britain spoke with approbation of William Paul and his position on Ireland. He quoted his statement that

'We, the Communists of the British Party, have a sacred duty to perform in connection with the Irish Question. We must help Ireland in her struggle against Britain.' (p ll)

W Paul wrote his pamphlet at a time when the newly-formed CP was in the vanguard of the working class movement. The Marxist movement in Britain was in its infancy, and W Paul is remembered for his attempts to take the movement forward theoretically: to apply Marxism to the situation facing the working class in Britain. It is to his credit that he saw Ireland as a major issue for the British working class to understand and fight over, if the struggle for socialism was to advance on either side of the water. He makes it clear in the introduction that his aim is to arm the working class in Britain with the necessary understanding to be able to struggle against the British State alongside the Irishpeople,

Many people see the Irish struggle today as complicated and hard to understand at fast sight. W Paul considered it so back in 1921, at a time when the 'Black and Tan t war was about to end, and when Lloyd George had proposed' a truce. Therefore he devotes the first sections of his pamphlet to explaining the situation in a way which goes beyond the apparently religious and ideological conflicts and which looks at the class interests involved. Thus he explains the close ties between the capitalists in the North and the British Stale: industry and the State need each other to survive in the modern day of finance capitalism. He also views the hatred of Britain felt by the numerous small business men in the South, as caused by British capitalism strangling their economy over the centuries. But in spite of their hatred, their main charaeteristic is vacillation and compromise. since they are afraid of unleashing a mass


movement of the proletariat. They are therefore incapable of leading a revolutionary struggle as a class alone. The future of Ireland lies with the working class - the revolutionary class. In the North they have been temporarily led astray by the bourgeoisie's use of religion to create divisions amongst them. In the South they fiercely oppose British imperialism, but tend towards 'ultra-nationalism' .

'Hatred of England reacted by creating a passionate devotion to Ireland.'

But Communist influence is growing, and W Paul believes that if they can avoid tying themselves too closely to the middle class leaders who will ultimately betray them, then the national struggle will become the class struggle. And this will spread to the whole of Ireland, because

'When the political differences are settled the religious differences will tend 10 vanish.' (p 3)

W Paul's analysis is not without weaknesses. It relies on a psychological explanation of the wore complex questions such as the divisions in the working class. It also shows an inadequate grasp of the material basis of Protestant reaction. For example W Paul says

'It is in the North, where Capitalism is most highly developed and where therefore, the potentialities of the class struggle are greatest.'

If we contrast this statement to the standpoint of James Connolly, its inadequacy becomes immediately apparent. In August 1913 Connolly wrote,

'According to all Socialist theories, North-East Ulster, being the most developed industrially, ought to be the quarter in which class lines of cleavage, politically and industrially, should be the most pronounced and class rebellion the most common.

As a cold matter of fact, it is the happy hunting ground of the slave-driver and the home of the least rebellious slaves in the industrial world. ( ... )

Here, tile Orange working class are slave-s in spirit because they have been reared up among a people whose conditions of servitude were more slavish than their own .. In Catholic Ireland the working class are rebels in spirit and democratic in feeling because for hundreds of years they have found no class as lowly paid or as hardly treated as themselves.

At one time in the industrial world of

Great Britain and Ireland the skilled labourer looked down with contempt upon the unskilled and bitterly resented his-attempt to get his children taught any of the skilled trades; the feeling of the Orangemen of Ireland towards the Catholics is but a glorified representation OIl a big stage of the same passions inspired by the same unworthy motives.' ('Forward' in Selected Writings pp 263- 266)

Connolly saw the reality of a divided class -- divided not just through the stimulation of religious feuds, but through the whole history of plantation and Protestant Ascendancy, and the material differences between Catholic and Protestant workers. He identified the Catholic working class as revolutionary because they were the most subject class:

'Individuals out of other classes must and will help as individual Protestants have helpe-d in the fight for Catholic emancipation in Ireland; but on the whole, the burden must rest upon the shoulders of the most subject class.' (p 265 Selected Writings)

William Paul, on the other hand, recognised the divisions in the class, but then with unreasoned optimism pointed to the future unity without suggesting how this would come about:

'When the class struggle actually begins in Ireland, it nOI only will surprise many moderate Sinn Feiners in the South, but it wit! certainly startle the large capitalists. of the North, who fondJy imagine that their workers are the most docile and superstitious creatures in the world.' (p 9)

But in spite of the weaknesses the strength of this pamphlet is its argument for the self-determination of the Irish people; a principled and forthright position against British Imperialism which the young Communist Party fought for. W Paul makes no bones about it.

'We believe in helping Ireland because she is the victim of capitalist imperialism, and we are against imperialism all the time. It is nothing to us that our fight for Ireland brings us into opposition with the imperialism of Britain. We are of the opinion that no one has a greater moral right to resist British Imperialism than the British working class.' (p 11)

He is also under no illusion that Ireland's democratic right to rule herself will be given

freely by the British State. On the contrary the Irish movement will have to seize what should be theirs by right:

'The British Government will not grant freedom or independence to Ireland; no one knows this more clearly than the rebel proletarians of Ireland who realise that whatever they get will only come as a result of having the power to take - by tearing it from the blood-red fist of a rapacious imperialism.' (p 11)

Is this what we hear today from the CPOB? Do they stand for the struggle against British imperialism in Ireland? Do they recognise that the Irish people will only be free to rule themselves as a result of having 'the power to take'?

One look at the new draft of the CP's programme The British Road to Socialism will give us the answer to this question. Early on we find the statement

'The crucial question is the winning of the labour movement to champion national rights.'

We even find a further statement, that 'Independence should be granted to all remaining British colonies, all British troops abroad should be withdrawn, and all foreign military bases liquidated.'

But when we read the specific section dealing with Ireland, we do not find a call to support the national struggle against imperialism. Instead we read a whole series of proposals for the British Government to impose: a Bill of Rights; an end to repressive measures; financial aid and other measures to begin to tackle poverty and unemployment. These measures would apparently lead at a future date to the Government withdrawing the troops and creating conditions in which the Irish people could finally begin to exercise selfdetermination. Self-determination is no longer the rigbt W Paul saw it to be: a right to be fought for here and now. It must wait for the imperialist State to change its policies - to change its whole nature and become humane and progressive - at which time it will happily be given to the Irish people. What, we wonder, has happened to the 'blood-red fist of rapacious imperialism'? Was W Paul simply being ultraleft? Should he not rather have campaigned for Imperialism's fist to be changed into a caressing hand, bestowing democracy, investment and progress on its colonies and preparing them for future freedom?

What would William Paul have thought of a Communist Party that did not champion the national rights of the Irish people. but instead championed the British imperialist State's rule of that people, albeit in a more humane way? What would he have thought of a Communist Party that in the same breath could state

'The programme of the labour movement and left forces ( ... ) must sqj'eguard

the national interests of the British people, now under attack as a result of right wing policies which surrender the control of their destinies to the Common Market, the international bankers, and the multinational firms. The survival of Britain as a manufacturing nation, and its capacity to decide its own destiny, are at slake.' (Draft British Road to Socialism lines 1165-69 - my emphasis)

We know the answer, since in his pamphlet he quoted Karl Liebknecht saying

'He who does not fight the enemy, Imperialism, represented by those who stand opposed to him. face to face. but attacks those from whom he is far away ... is no SOcialist, but a miserable hack of the ruling class. '

The CPGB's strategy today is one that lies entirely in the future: Ireland's freedom is in the hands of a future 'Left Government' that will carry out all the policies required, regardless of the needs of capital. But the CP can hardly ignore the fact that a liberation struggle is going on today, and that some action is required of British Communists now. For the CP the waiting period can be filled by a campaign for a 'Better Life for All'. As Irene Brennan's report to the Executive Committee of the Communist Party shows, this campaign is a major plank of the CP's strategy, and is seen as helping to 'build the broad democratic movement and unite the working people around class demands.' (Comment 16.4.77 p 116)

But a close look at the 'Better Life' petition reveals one major omission: there is no demand for an end to British oppression. The national question is not even mentioned. What a contradiction! The CPOB claim to recognise that the root cause of violence and disunity. in the North lies in the British State's partition of Ireland and its continued oppression of the Six Counties. Yet the way to peace and unity can apparently leave out this issue altogetherl Somehow the working class Loyalists can be made to forget their relative privileges in terms of jobs and housing; they can be wheedled into unity with the Catholics. by a campaign that does not mention the national question. And then after a period of asking for a 'Better Life' in unison, they will watch the troops being withdrawn and the border removed without turning a hair. No longer 'befuddled by loyalist ideology' as Irene Brennan expressed it in her pamphlet Northern Ireland: a Programme for Action, they will have become a united Working class striving for peace and democreacv, (In Ireland: British Labour and British Imperialism we explain why this is nonsense, by showing the material roots of the present divisions in the working class).

The 'Better Life' campaign-lets the CP off the hook. It allows Communists to be busy campaigning on the Irish issue without challenging any of the chauvinism and

prejudice that grips whole sections of the labour movement. Their strategy serves to reinforce the generally accepted belief that the British State has the right to continue its rule over the Six Counties. Whereas W Paul could state,

'As British Communists we are particularly opposed to British Imperialism. We scorn to hide our opposition to British imperialism. We fight it by any and every means.' (p 11)

The Communist Party 56 years later while stating its opposition to imperialism in general, refuses to take sides against its own imperialist State in the struggle that is taking place today for the liberation of the Six Counties .

W Paul in this succinct pamphlet was on the right lines in his insistence on the tasks of Communists in the imperialist nation. The analysis he put forward must be developed for our major task today - that of convincing sections of the British labour movement that the British State cannot playa progressive role in Northern Ireland and that a campaign must be built for the immediate withdrawal of British troops. That is the only meaning that Communists can give today tot_!1e demand that the Irish have the right to rule themselves. W Paul knew the consequences of that demand: a struggle against the British State and against those leaders in the labour movement who betray the Irish people.

Chris Collins

Typesetting by Red Lion Setters (TV) 27 Red Lion St

London WCIR 4PS

Printed by Rye Express Ltd (TV) 204 Peckham Rye

London SE22


We demand the transfer of Irish political prisoners to jails in Ireland

Michael Gaughan Died 3rd June 1974

Frank Stagg

Died 12th February 1976

AT PRESENT over 80 men and women are serving sentences in English prisons for political offences connected with the current British Troubles in Ireland. Of those so convicted, three have died in prison.

On 3 June, 1974, MICHAEL GAUGHAN died while being force fed in Parkhurst. On 12 February, 1976, FRANK STAGG died during a hunger strike in Wakefield. On 9 October, 1976, NOEL JENKINSON died in the top security unit in Leicester in unexplained circumstances.

Noel Jenkinson had been badly beaten on three occasions and had spent six months in solitary. Frank Stagg had spent nearly three years in solitary in a cell stripped of furniture and heating. Michael Gaughan contracted pneumonia after a force feeding tube pener-atedhis lung.

According to figures re'eased by the Home Office on 26 July, 1976, 46 I rish political prisoners had been held in sol itary in the previous 12 months "for their own protection" but against their will, according to the same source in the same period 33 of them had suffered assaults in prison. LIAM MacLARNON has served two years of his sentence to date in solitary; GERRY CONLON spent six months in Wandsworth in solitary with jig saws for company. In Albany in September, 1976, SEAN CAMPBELL had an arm, a leg and a finger broken and ribs fractured; FR. FELL got a fractured nose; EDDIE BYRNE was beaten unconscious; Liam MacLarnon, JOHN McCLUSKEY and CON MacFADDEN were also injured. In Liverpool in May, 1975, BRENDAN DOWD had his teeth kicked out; SEAN KINSELLA's arm was broken, in Manchester at the same time PAUL NORNEY and NOEL GIBSON received severe bruising while in police custody. In Winson Green prison in

Noel Jenkinson Died 9th October 1976

November, 1974, PAT GUILFOYLE, MARTIN COUGHLAN, STEPHEN BLAKE, TONY MADIGAN, RAY MacLAUGHLIN, GERRY YOUNG, GERRY SMALL and JIMMIE ASHE were all assaulted; in the same month JOHN WALKER, BILLY POWER, GERRY HUNTER, HUGH CALLAGHAN, RICHARD MclLKENNYand PADDY HILL received injuries while in police custody. PAUL HILL has received injuries in Guildford, Wandsworth and Hull. In November, 1975, KEVIN DUNPHY was attacked in his cell in Parkhurst with an iron bar.

SHANE PAUL O'DOHERTY is currently held in solitary and refused all visits in Wormwood Scrubs because he refuses to wear uniform in protest at not being transferred to a prison in Ireland.

During the period 1972-75, according to Government figures, 27 soldiers convicted of crimes in Ireland were moved to serve their sentences 111 England. In the same period 22 civilians were also transferred to English prisons from Ireland.

Four Irish political prisoners have been transferred to Ireland, Dolours and Marian Price, Gerry Kelly and Hugh Feeney. They endured 205 days of force feeding.


We calion all individuals and organisations to support our demand that Irish political prisoners who are being brutalised in English prisons be given the same right as criminals in the British Army:



Luton Provisional Sinn Fern Rising Free

The HAPOTOC Family International, Holland Comite Irlande, France

Spare Rib

Revolutionary Communist Group Release

Scottish Republican Socialist Club Up Against the Law

Irish National Caucus, USA

Ancient Order of Hibernians, USA

Gaelic Athletic Association, USA

United Irish Counties Association, USA Association for Legal Justice, Dubl in Central October Books, Liverpool

Communist \fI_lorkers Movement

Murray De tenc a Committee, London Merseyside Area Committee, Communist Party

of Great Britain

Veteran Infantry Soldiers Assoc.ation

(50 guineasl

Irish Republican Socialist Party Teesside Polytechnic Students Union East London T (OOPS Out Movement Socialist Worker

Socialist Workers Party

Peadar Neary Cumann, Provisional Sinn Fein, Roscommon

Friends of Ireland Club, Western Australia Merseyside I rish Prisoners Committee Manchester University Troops Out Movement Noel Jenkinson Memorial Committee, New York International Marxist Group

Hackney Trades Council

Revolutionary Communist Tendency

Ulster Executive, Provisional Sinn Fein

South Derry Comhairle Ceantair, Provisional

Sinn Fein

Sean Sabhat Cumann, Provisional Sinn Fein Co. Roscommon Comhairle Ceantair,

Provisional Sinn Fein Peoples Democracy

Troops Out Movement, Sheffield Trade Union Committee against the

Prevention of Terrorism Act West London ,Troops Out Movement Anderstown News

Woman and Ireland Group An Phoblacht

Comhairle Cheannthair, Dublin Soutn, Provisional Sinn Fein

Michael Gaughan Cumann, Dundrum, Provisional Sinn Fein

Robert Emmet Cumann, Inchicore, Provisional Sinn Fein

O'Quill Cumann, South Dublin Central, Provisional Sinn Fein

Prill)Rers Aid Committee, 182 Upper St., london N1

Wolfe Tone Cumann, Tallaght, Provisional Sinn Fein

Thomas Clarke Cumann, Dun Laoghaire, Provisional Sinn Fein

Forsythe Cumann, Rathfarnham, Provisional Sinn Fein

ReVOlutionary Marxist League (Swiss Section of

the Fourth International) Connolly Association

Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association High Wycombe Cumann, Provisional

Sinn Fein

Comhairte Chuige Laighean, Provisional

Sinn Fein

Radical Alternatives to Prison Republican News

Celtic League

Derry Association

lrisf Northern Aid Committee, California Armagh Associat ion

Movement for a Socialist Republic United Ireland Association Penderyn

Welsh Political Prisoners Defence


The Nationalist Party

West German Solidarity Committee Association for Lega\ Justice, Cork

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