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  1. See a Problem?
  2. The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers' Party
  3. The Lost Revolution, The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers' Party by Brian Hanley
  4. The Lost Revolution

See a Problem?

The very survival of the movement was at stake in these years, and the piecemeal adoption of leftist rhetoric was by no means universally popular within the movement. Some of these individuals, like Billy McKee and Joe Cahill, were instrumental in the split, and the formation of the Provisionals, and they were committed to a socially conservative movement, reliant upon the communal solidarity of the Catholic nationalist enclaves, both rural and urban, of Northern Ireland.

Goulding was critical of the militaristic elitism that had characterised Irish republicanism over the post-civil war decades, but this was a trend that had very deep historical roots, stretching back at least as far as the Fenians and the Irish Republican Brotherhood. Hanley and Millar are assiduous in tracing the internal debates over the relationship between political activism and the commitment to violence during the fateful period from —69, although their own judgments are sometimes less easy to discern.

Although Goulding had also criticised the backward-looking culture of commemoration in the Republican movement, paradoxically it was the 50th anniversary of the Easter rising in that produced a renewed and broader interest in the movement amongst younger left-wing elements.

Garda estimates put the strength of the IRA at approximately 1, in , but only around a quarter of these were veterans of the Border campaign, illustrating the turnover in personnel and the influx of new recruits.

The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers' Party

Ultimately, the Republican movement would remain under the firm control of its illegal and clandestine military leadership, and the transparency afforded by the open activity of SF was strictly limited in application. Unfortunately, this growth was predicated upon the resurgence in sectarian confrontation in Northern Ireland, for which the Republican movement must take its share of the historical responsibility.

The events of summer have been carved into the historical psyche of the Ulster population, both Protestant and Catholic, but Hanley and Millar demonstrate convincingly that the prevailing narrative associated with the Provisionals , that the IRA was hardly present, and left Catholic districts undefended while a Loyalist pogrom unfolded, is a conscious distortion of the facts.

New recruits flooded into the movement, and some of the older traditionalists returned, seizing their opportunity to act as a thorn in the flesh of the Dublin leadership group, and preparing the ground for the eventual split in December But, many of these recruits were explicit in their motivation: This outcome was precisely the opposite of that intended by Goulding and the other genuine anti-sectarians, but they had no capacity to engineer a new emphasis upon working-class unity.

The Lost Revolution, The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers' Party by Brian Hanley

The arrival and continuing presence of the British Army on the streets only served to reinforce the anti- colonial prism through which events were interpreted, to disastrous effect for all concerned. The book deals well with the complexity of the split, in its ideological, geographical and generational dimensions. In many rural areas, it was some time before the split was formalised, whereas in Belfast and Derry, there were swift recriminations and confrontations.


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Decisions were often made on the basis of a complicated mixture of personal loyalties, ideological convictions and strategic judgments. After approximately 50 deaths caused by the Officials and 20 killed from within their ranks , the movement called an open-ended ceasefire in May By the late s and into the s, the distinctively Republican heritage of the movement was giving way to a party model that resembled an orthodox communist party much more closely. Aiding this transition, which actually maintained many elements of organisational continuity with past practice, was the close relationship cultivated by WP leaders with the USSR and the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and its position within the international communist movement.

As Hanley and Millar make clear in the second half of the book, the WP, whilst remaining relatively small in terms of its membership base, had good claims to be considered the most dynamic party in the Republic during the s.

The tension between a conspiratorial Leninist core group, basing its politics on secretive manoeuvring behind the scenes, and a more transparent parliamentary presence, basing its activities upon reformist constituency work, was becoming ever more difficult to manage. The collapse of the international communist movement helped to bring this tension into the public domain, and six of the seven TDs took the decision to leave the WP in , creating the Democratic Left.

The Lost Revolution

Only Mac Giolla remained with the WP, and he subsequently lost his seat later that year. For five years, the authors tracked down anyone who would talk to them about the singular trajectory of the movement that began with the split of the IRA' Irish Mail on Sunday. They failed, of course, but Brian Hanley and Scott Millar's excellent study shows how they made an impact on the political stage' Sunday Business Post.

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This is an excellent book. It has been a long-time coming that someone did a thorough academic investigation on the links between the Workers Party and the Official IRA and the role of the major A roll-call of influential personalities Brian Hanley , Scott Millar.