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50 Years Ago: Should Irish workers support the I.R.A.?

With the recurrence of I.R.A. activity, attention is again focussed on the “Irish Question.” The familiar tragedy of young workers dying for “The Cause” is again being re-enacted.

There are those who would tell us that as Irish workers we must be in the vanguard of the “National Struggle.” Coming from the I.R.A. this means that we should join that organisation, procure arms, and train ourselves in their use. If called on, they say, we will attack the armed hirelings of the State, regardless of whether or not we fall in the fray, dangle on the hangman’s rope, or find ourselves condemned to long years of imprisonment. The militant Republican assures us that we owe it to “our” country; that we must be prepared to sacrifice everything for “The Cause.” (…)

On finding a job the young worker becomes acquainted with the reality of the class-struggle: on the one side the Masters with the porridge—on the other the Olivers, perpetually with just enough to “keep body and soul together”, and only with occasionally enough courage to ask for more ( . . . )

Such an economic set-up makes nonsense of the claims made by Republicans, Unionists, or any other political party, that the people can control their own destinies, by raising this flag, or lowering that. The problems that beset us in Ireland to-day do not originate in our capacity for colour appreciation, in the qualities of Green and Orange. They are problems inherent in the Capitalist system—that system which has the blessing of both Governments in Ireland; that system which would continue to afflict us if the I.R.A. concluded a successful struggle to-morrow.

(From an article by R. Montague, Socialist Standard, May 1957)