Century of Endeavour
Chapter 7, Part 1: The period 1961-1966
(c) Roy Johnston 2002(comments to email@example.com)
In view of the large amount of RJ 1960s material, it has been necessary to split this chapter into three parts; I have kept the RJ and JJ stuff interspersed.
JJ in the 1960s: OverviewThis overview of JJ's work in the 1960s touches on all three parts of this Chapter.
In TCD JJ's primary interest was the Kells Ingram Farm, and the unsuccessful attempt to position TCD to get a share of the agricultural research action, this then becoming a source of government funding. In TCD politics(1) he had been manoeuvred into a backwater, although he retained the somewhat nominal role of Senior Proctor up to 1962.
After JJ's Presidential term with the Statistical and Social Inquiry Society (SSISI)(2) he became disillusioned with the current economic orthodoxy and its gurus. Isolated in TCD he again turned to newspaper articles and pamphleteering, reverting to his earlier Barrington-like(3) outreach mode, though without the actual label this time. The 'Barrington lectures' as such had by now subsided towards an annual SSISI event. After the demise of the Kells Ingram Farm JJ reverted to his scholarly (4) role, drawing together his Hermathena papers into his Berkeley book, and into a monograph developing the Berkeley theory of credit, which I treat elsewhere(5).
JJ continued his association with the Irish Association(6), as a 'Past President', and attended some of the functions. He had registered to attend the Derry Irish Association Whit-weekend conference in 1965, but was apparently unable to come; if he had, he would have attended an interesting seminal event which laid the basis for the subsequent development of the Civil Rights movement; it was attended by many of the people concerned, including myself and John Hume.
There was also a revival of correspondence contact with Dermot MacManus(7). The context was an attempt by the latter to get a paper published on the history of the literary revival.
After JJ published his Bishop Berkeley's Querist in Historical Perspective in 1970 he submitted it for the degree of Litt D. The degree was conferred in May 1972, shortly before he died (see Chapter 8).
This completes the introductory overview of my father's contribution to this chapter. In what follows, most of the material relates to my own work on developing a theory-practice dialectic, in left-wing politics and in applied science. Where highlights occurs in my father's later years I intersperse them.
RJ and Industrial Applied ScienceIn introducing this section I should say that I found, with the Guinness (Park Royal) production research experience described below, a very positive sense of team cohesion (between scientists, engineers, technicians and process workers). I was reminded of the earlier period at the Pic du Midi. One got a pre-view of the cohesion which might become the norm in a future society where the various elements of the economic system would be socially owned.
This experience also gave some insight into the workings of the applied-scientific community in Britain, and into socio-technical and techno-economic issues. The 'science and society' domain (8), as defined earlier by JD Bernal, remained dormant, except insofar as I was motivated to join the Association of Scientific Workers, which was a trade union that had been set up in the 1940s by Bernal and others. This was in process of evolving into a typical run-of-the-mill British trade union, catering for technicians working conditions, though it was supported by a handful of scientists who possessed the Bernal vision, and believed that their technicians were important and should be looked after.
I was a member of the West London Branch of the AScW, and in this capacity I got to represent them on the Acton Trades Council. I developed some insights from this experience which were relevant to Irish politics; it would have been quite easy for me, had I been motivated to get into London politics, to get nominated from the Acton Trades Council to the local Hospital Board. The accessibility of local government structures to democratic nomination from below is an extremely important feature, in which Irish local government is deficient. Here was an item for the home political agenda. (9).
The Production Research Department in Guinness (Park Royal, London), in the period 1960 to 1963 headed by Michael Ashe, was on the scale of a 100-barrel per day pilot plant (10). Beer we produced was rarely up to standard, so it was blended off with the 'added beers' into the general production. We ran the system only occasionally, most of the time being taken up with modifications prior to the next run.
The relationship between the Production Research Department of Guinness in Park Royal and and Statistics Department, run by Stella Cunliffe, was somewhat problematic. The key question was getting recognition, in the dynamic context of process control, for the 'Philosophy of the Unplanned Experiment' in a context dominated by the classical statistical philosophy of 'experimental design' as it had emerged in a static agricultural 'experimental design' situation.
There was a rotary filter with which the 'wort' (ie unfermented soluble malt extract) was drawn off from the 'mash' (milled malted barley to which water had been added for extracting the solubles). The mash was then 'sparged' with hot water, to rinse out the last of the wort. If you sparge too much, the resulting wort ends up too dilute.
The wort was then boiled with hops; this was done in small batches in a sequence of vessels in rotation. An attempt was made to compensate for the variability of the hops by measuring a key component of the extract, a biochemical known as 'iso-humulone', and a member of the team, George Philpotts, had attempted to develop some instrumentation for this purpose, using auto-analyser technology.
The wort, after boiling with hops, had to end up at a specific gravity of 1.0459, so that measurement of 'gravity' was crucial. In the traditional process one does this with a hydrometer, a relatively simple task, but the object of the development was to make the process continuous, so this meant on-line instrumentation and a control system. My task was to try to get on top of this instrumentation problem.
The hopped wort, at the desired gravity, was then declared to the Excise in a batch vessel, from which the continuous fermenter vessels drew. I spent most of my time at this end of the process, though some of the instrumentation was relevant upstream, and we ran a sort of test-bed for gravity-related instrumentation of all sorts in the neighbourhood of the rotary filter.
The output of this work is perhaps best measured by three patents (11) registered during my time with Guinness. The first, 976,663, is headed 'Examining Solutions Photo-electronically', and covered our 'Yeast Concentration Meter'. The novelty was in the use of a photo-multiplier tube to pick up back-scattered light from a liquid containing suspended solids. This could not have been done with the usual type of photo-cell, the intensity being too low. It was, I think, the first example of the use of the photo-multiplier in industrial instrumentation.
The photomultiplier output signal was a linear measure of the concentration of yeast in beer, and it did not matter if the beer was dark. The then current 'photometry' instruments (which measured reduction of intensity of a beam of light passed through a liquid) were quite useless in Guinness, the liquid being dark, and anyway they had a non-linear output. It was a good instrument, with many possible applications, and was subsequently made commercially under licence by Evans Electroselenium. If it had been used outside brewing (eg in paper pulp) I understand I should have been entitled to a royalty, but I never pursued this.
I wrote this up in Research and Development for Industry, no 31, March 1964, giving examples of how it had been applied in the control of the Guinness pilot-scale continuous ferments.
The main fermenter got a portion of the feedstock directly, the other portion feeding the vessel where yeast was grown, under aerobic conditions. The output of this growth vessel was fed into the main fermenter, replenishing the yeast supply therein, at a controlled rate.
We developed instrumentation to measure the oxygen level in the growth vessel, and to measure the gravity in the fermenter, and to keep track of the amount of yeast that came out. The rule was, everything must go downstream; no recycling of yeast. This latter feature dominated the Coutts and Lebatt patents, but Guinness wanted to maintain their own system distinct from this, the key idea being to start with pure yeast culture under laboratory control, and not allow a population of wild or mutant yeasts to build up, as would happen under a recycling regime.
We did the best we could, but the system was wildly unstable, and would have required a sophisticated feed-forward control system, based on totally reliable instrumentation. There is a non-linear relationship between the gravity of the fermenting beer and the extent to which the yeast flocculates. The attempt to control yeast concentration in such a way as to achieve the target beer gravity at the outlet, while staying within the 'no recycling' constraint, was doomed to failure.
In this situation, Stella Cunliffe in the Statistics Department was trying to impose on us a pattern of meticulously planned experiments, derived from the procedures used in agriculture for evaluating barley and hop production. This however was wildly out of phase with the requirements. It was all we could do to keep the process going, with the resulting beer fit to add to the 'added beers' (after all, excise had been paid, and to dump it would have been a mortal sin!). So what we did was treat the plant as an ongoing 'unplanned experiment', keeping records of the parameters at the various stages of the process, and working over the data afterwards to try to draw some conclusions. We were able to do this, and we wrote reports, the results being meaningful experience, and the general message being that continuous fermentation without yeast recycling is intrinsically unstable and Guinness should not pursue this road, a useful negative result. This experience of an 'unplanned experiment' in a continuous process however was an early example of the 'operations research' approach to industrial process control statistics.
We were able to model the performance of the 3-vessel continuous fermentation system using a set of differential equations, and at one stage we had this working on an analogue computer. I drafted a paper on this, and showed it to Sir Cyril Hinshelwood FRS, who was then consulting with Guinness, and he thought it should be published, but I never got round to it. The key concept was in the separation of the aerobic growth from the anaerobic fermentation phases; these processes obeyed different dynamic laws. It was, I think, an innovative example of a mathematical application in biodynamics.
In the end Guinness went back to the classical batch process, which is self-stabilising and easily manageable. Again, the experience was interesting and useful; one can learn from failures perhaps more than if one has one's head swelled by successes. Above all, we had fun doing the work, and there was a great sense of team cohesion.
I should add that we attempted to develop an on-line gravity-meter, in association with Solartron-Schlumberger (currently a world-leading oil well instrumentation specialist), which depended on the vibration frequency of a metal tube being modified by the specific gravity of the liquid in it. I don't think this led to a working prototype, but we had observed and measured the gravity effect in another Solartron instrument which depended on vibrations, designed to measure viscosity.
We got this to work, after a fashion, on the bench, but scale-up problems would have been horrendous, and it remains a curiosity. The patent agent however was very taken by it, and had great hopes, and Michael Ashe was persuaded to go through with the patenting.
There was a somewhat edgy relationship between the Connolly Association (CA) and the British Communist Party (CPGB); the CA competed with the CPGB for the attention of political-minded Irish emigrants, and also with Clann na hEireann, the republican emigrants grouping, for the attention of emigrants whose formation was primarily in the republican tradition. In summary, it could be said that the CPGB thought in terms of the 'British working-class' and was hostile to what it regarded as nationalist diversions; Clann na hEireann thought in terms of money and support for the movement in Ireland; the Connolly Association tried to mobilise Irish workers in support of Irish interests via a process of lobbying Parliament and influencing opinion-leaders in the Labour Party and trade unions. The present writer devoted all of his marginal time to Connolly Association politics.
After the initial few months in Ladbroke Grove I lived (along with Mairin and the two children Una and Fergus) in Hammersmith and then in West Acton, so the basic unit for political activity was the West London Branch of the Connolly Association, which met weekly in a pub in Shepherd's Bush. We did our best to have a talk at each meeting by someone who was knowledgeable on a current topic, or on some aspect of Irish history or culture. We sold the Irish Democrat, the Connolly Association monthly paper, in the Irish pubs on the weekends. This task, while apparently menial, in fact was a fruitful source of insights into the way the emigrant Irish were thinking, from the numerous friendly conversations which ensued.
There was also a local branch of the Communist Party, of which I became nominally a member, attending an occasional meeting. It was rare however to find any useful ideas in that environment; I recollect one meeting at which some development in the Soviet legal system, the nature of which I forget, was 'explained' at length by a leading member. One could not help thinking in terms of a millenarian religious cult with a remote Utopian vision. It is worth mentioning in passing however that local CP activists helped, in a valiant rearguard action, to keep going the democratic system on which the London consumer co-operative movement depended. One could however sense the tension between the ideology of the visionaries and the management practice of the London co-operative retail outlets. Analysis of this is necessary to explain the decline of consumer co-operation in the advanced capitalist environment. It is perhaps possible to relate this to JJ's experience half a century earlier.
In the Acton Trades Council, where I represented the West London AScW, it was also possible to observe the ideological divisions. After the meetings of this body, people went for a drink to two different pubs. The significance of this I soon learned was that the Communists drank in one and the Labour people in the other. It was an 'us and them' scene of the worst description. My priority being the Irish movement, I used to drink alternately with both, and kept my distance from the in-fighting of the London Left.
Keeping the Connolly Association branch going required a significant amount of marginal-time effort. Activities included identifying and getting hold of appropriate speakers, lobbying the local MP, outreach work with local trade union branch meetings explaining the nature of the Irish situation to them, all this as well as keeping up the circulation of the Irish Democrat. The key issue at the time was the Special Powers in Northern Ireland, and the internment without trial of the people who had been involved in the 1950s IRA campaign. Supportive of this was the campaign for an enquiry into the working of the Government of Ireland Act, ie the Northern Ireland 'Constitution' as set up by the British.
During this period the embryo of the 'Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland' concept emerged, the prime mover being C Desmond Greaves (CDG), who during this period spent much time in Ireland researching for his book on Liam Mellows. According to his Diary, CDG spent from November 1 to 9 1962 in Belfast (13). The context was his perceived need for an analysis of, and response to, the Barritt and Carter book The NI Problem: a Study in Group Relations. He discussed this with the CPNI people, in the Belfast Trades Council office. Was NI subsidised? The nationalists said yes, the Unionists said no. He leaned heavily on the evidence picked up earlier from my father Joe Johnston, to the effect that the agricultural subsidies were worth £30M. The earlier Isles and Cuthbert Report had cast no light on the issue. He also talked to Sean Caughey, the Sinn Fein political spokesman in Belfast, who wanted a 'National Liberation Council' composed of various organisations, but CDG countered with an National Council for Civil Liberty (NCCL) proposal for a conference on the franchise; Caughey however was not convinced.
Then on December 11 1962 CDG noted the prospect of a debate on the thesis of the Barritt-Carter book; Carter however refused to debate in person, and put up Norman Gibson instead. CDG however had no desire to debate with Gibson, of whom apparently he had never heard. In fact Gibson was then a rising young economist who was putting feelers out in the direction of the Republic; I had encountered him at a Tuairim conference in Greystones, in or about 1959 or 1960, considering the implications of the Whittaker Programme and the then innovatory orientation of industry in the Republic towards exports. CDG was, in my opinion, wrong to dismiss him as a nobody; I had certainly heard of him. It is a pity this opportunity was missed. Any interest shown by economists in the North in the economics of Ireland as a whole should have been welcomed. The Greaves response to the Barritt-Carter book later took the form of his book The Irish Crisis
The August 1 1963 Greaves diary has a revealing entry relating to the present writer: '..Roy goes back to Ireland on Tuesday to take up his post with Aer Lingus. He wants to talk to everybody about his "role" there. But he is incapable of pursuing single-mindedly a political course of action, let alone originating one. So I made no suggestions. And in any conflict between his duty and his interests or convenience, his interests or convenience are bound to win. Still he is not the worst...'. On the previous day he had recorded something of the problem we had getting back into our own house, currently occupied by Jim Fitzgerald(14) and family upstairs and Anthony Coughlan down below. Certain rearrangements would obviously be necessary, and money was involved. In this context he interpreted my concern with the financial side of things as being 'miserly'.
The foregoing says something about CDG's judgment of people, and his confidence in their ability to grasp his strategies. The Civil Rights approach within the NI situation was in gestation, and he had already set up some contacts. Yet he chose not to tell me anything about it, in a farewell briefing, which I had asked for. If he had briefed me, it is quite possible that the Wolfe Tone Society in Dublin would earlier have been able to help this process along, with its Belfast contacts, which included Jack Bennett, and, later, people like Alec Foster (Principal of 'Inst' and Conor Cruise O'Brien's father-in-law), Michael Dolley (the Queens historian), John D Stewart (a leading critical journalist), and Kader Asmal in Dublin (in the TCD Legal Science Department). But he seemed to be dismissive of the potential of all-Ireland democratic intellectual networking, preferring when in Ireland to cultivate the 'intellectual undergrowth' of the CPNI and the IWL. He expected all intellectuals to go the road taken by Cal O'Herlihy, who was lecturing in bourgeois economics in Queens, and Justin Keating who was in the Veterinary College and aspiring to a Labour Party Dail seat, and he automatically wrote them off politically.
I recollect how on this occasion Greaves turned our conversation towards the potential for exotic vacations which presented themselves for airline employees with concession travel, suggesting the flora and fauna of the Amazon as being accessible should I so desire. This was, of course, a leg-pull, but it indicated that CDG was far from 'sending me back to Ireland on a mission', as Mac Stiofain has alleged; he was clearly indicating to me that I was on my own, and as far as he was concerned, I had established myself in his mind as being somewhat of a political dilettante. It also suggested that he had absorbed the lessons of his premature intervention on the occasion of the founding meeting of the Irish Workers League, and wanted any political developments in Ireland to be genuinely indigenous, from the bottom up.
Anthony Coughlan had returned to Ireland in August 1961, to take up a job as a lecturer in the Social Studies Department in TCD, for which his London postgraduate work in social administration policy was relevant. This was his own decision. My job in Aer Lingus came up as a result of having had earlier contact with Finbar Donovan the Sales Manager, when the latter was in touch with the DIAS and looking into computer applications in Liverpool. He was championing the real-time reservations project in Aer Lingus, as the first really large-scale Irish computer application, and he needed technical support, so he head-hunted the present writer. So the allegations of Sean Mac Stiofain in his memoirs regarding our motivations in returning to Ireland are quite false(15).
The Mac Stiofain MemoirsSean Mac Stiofain had earlier encountered the Connolly Association. He was working as a shunter on the railways; he joined the Union and got on well with his workmates. The issue came up of paying the political levy with the Union dues. He refused, on the grounds that the Labour Party was supporting Partition. Encountering the CA and the Irish Democrat he discovered that their policy was that people should pay the political levy. I quote: 'it was then the policy of the Communist Party of Great Britain not to attack the Labour Party. Consistent with this policy, the Connolly Association was in effect urging Irish workers to subsidise a party that perpetuated partition.... the CA criticised the IRA and condemned the use of physical force against the British occupation forces in Ireland. At the same time it was supporting... revolutionary force in Malaya, where it hadn't a hope. I wondered if they thought the Russian revolution they admired so much had been achieved without physical force... the party line was whatever Stalin said it was from one week to the next. There was no way of balancing these double loyalties to ensure that Irish freedom would be put first..'(p51).
We can see why the window of opportunity was closed. Greaves in his attempts to decouple the CA from the CPGB, and give it an independent Irish-oriented policy development procedure, had in 1949 not yet managed to do this at its grass-roots. The dead hand of Stalinism helped push SMacS away from political methods and towards militarism, at a critical juncture in his career, when he was an active trade unionist working in England.
SMacS goes on to give a critical analysis (p52) of the roles of the European CPs, with which the present writer would have been substantially in agreement at the time. This in fact had fuelled the latter's movement towards attempting to make intellectual contact with the early politicising tendencies in the republican movement, which began in the late 50s, as we saw in the previous chapter.
'Any revolutionary who expected Ireland to accept a Russian-type society would be wasting his time. The social system the Republican movement preached in those days was... distributive ownership or co-operativism, with some nationalisation of certain key resources...'.
This indeed sums up well what the present writer attempted to do in the 1960s, and it is a great pity that SMacS's obsession with weapons and militarism helped to undermine it.
Subsequent to his return to Ireland SMacS referred (p92) to welcoming Goulding's taking on the leadership, but rapidly became aware of the politicising trend, which was as expressed in the 1965 conference proceedings referenced below, the famous 'nine proposals'. These proposals were before the present writer's time of active association with the movement; they represented basically Goulding's politicising agenda, supported by Costello, Mitchell and others.
SMacS was elected to the Army Council at the next Convention, which was in early 1965. He claimed to know where the policies are coming from, blaming '...a Marxist whom I knew to be Moscow-oriented, and who had been in the CPGB and the Connolly Association...'. He proposed that this person be expelled, under the anti-communist rule. Goulding however stood over the membership of the person concerned, saying that if this person went, he would go too.
Thus Goulding in 1965 was prepared to stand over the basis on which I became associated, namely constitutional change leading to total politicisation of the movement.
Justin O'Brien(16) quotes Sean Mac Stiofain to the effect that Goulding had talked about contacting Moscow when in jail with him in 1953. Goulding was then said to have contacted the Soviet Embassy when Chief of Staff, possibly in early 1963, and was told that they did not support revolutionary movements, only governments. A couple of months after this the present writer and Anthony Coughlan were said by Mac Stiofain to have '...returned to Ireland, and the connection was obvious'. Mac Stiofain it seems believed this, or propagated it, implausible though it was (could Moscow have fixed up a job for me in Aer Lingus, and one for Anthony Coughlan in TCD? !! ), and subsequently based his quasi-politics upon it.
The foregoing must represent SMacS's perception of the present writer, whose motivation he had totally misinterpreted; I was fed up with the CP/IWL narrow sectishness, and wanted to distance myself from their Rome-like worship of Moscow. But at this time I had never met him. How did he know? Someone must have primed him and given him a particular 'spin' on my political position.
I remember the occasion of my return in September 1963. I drove our Morris Minor to Fishguard, saw it winched on to the Rosslare boat, with all our chattels in it. On the way over I retired to what must have been the old 'commercial room', a sort of saloon where one could sit down and write, a relic of old-time commercial travelling. I wrote some notes on how I saw the movement for Irish national unity and liberation of the Irish working people might be developed. I recollect that I was influenced by the Castro model, but not in its 'armed struggle' aspect; the key to its political aspect was how a broad-based movement of politicised working people, rural as well as urban, in the country as a whole, had absorbed, subsumed, upstaged (to this day I can't find a good verb!) a narrow doctrinaire urban 'workerist' party based on the orthodoxy of the Communist international movement. I had picked up the Cuban story from the special issue of the US-published Marxist Monthly Review, edited by Leo Huberman and Paul Sweezy, which had appeared shortly before.
JJ and the European Common MarketIn 1962 JJ had published his Why Ireland Needs the Common Market(17) which he regarded as a sequel or update of his earlier Irish Agriculture in Transition. The title was somewhat misleading, as it was in fact a reiteration of his critique of the economic policies of the advanced industrial countries which had been subsidising their agriculture, and consequently lowering the prices available to fringe countries like Ireland that were trying to build up on the basis of agricultural exports.
I give some quotes from this epilogue, which summarise the message of the book as a whole. He does comparisons ranging from the 1920s to the 1960s, in the US, UK, Germany, Denmark etc. "..Ireland occupies an intermediate place between Denmark and the peasant counties of Eastern Europe..". He argues that subsidised agricultural production fuels inflation. The situation is however dominated by vast defence expenditures, which act as a stabiliser.
JJ concludes as follows: "...The supreme test for the statesmanship of the Western World will be in its ability to substitute a policy of economic 'brinkmanship' for a policy of strategic 'brinkmanship' without falling down on the job.... (involving) the overseas expenditure of billions of pounds and dollars in constructive investment, and establish the foundations for an international economy which will have a social and ethical as well as a merely economic stability....".
JJ, TCD and AgricultureThe TCD Kells Ingram farm in the early 60s had an annual gross output of about £17K and employed 10 men. There were 182 cattle (a mix of dairy and beef), 449 sheep, 178 pigs, and the main crops were barley, potatoes and wheat. They had tried peas unsuccessfully. Agriculture and veterinary students spent one day per week there. There were also 22 acres of woodland. This was basically JJ's model mixed farm concept, on a scale such as to enable synergies to be demonstrated, as described earlier in his 1942 SSISI paper on 'Capitalisation of Irish Agriculture'(18). The Farm issued a one-year certificate, which was the responsibility of the KI Farm Committee, and issued in its name. The College as such wanted nothing to do with it.
This was totally at odds with the Agricultural Institute model, which consisted of a dispersed set of specialised units. The analysis of how agricultural research developed under Dr Tom Walsh's leadership must remain for the present on the longer-term agenda. I subsequently gave it a preliminary treatment in the 1970s in my Irish Times 'Science and Technology' column(19), in which I began to develop a critical analysis which in retrospect is not unlike that of my father; we will see this in the 1970s chapter.
JJ made occasional forays to the TCD Board meetings. On April 25 1962 he corrected an earlier minute done in his absence: the lecturer they recruited for the School of Agriculture was not in 'economics' but in 'farm management'. So although his appearance was sporadic, he remained alive to the issues.
However from this time on one gets an increasing impression that the Farm and the Agriculture School were losing the battle for survival; the strategy was taking shape whereby Agriculture went to UCD and the Veterinary College went to TCD. The farm struggled on until 1967, when finally they decided to sell it. Some attempts were made to develop Townley Hall as a conference centre, but on the whole without success.
JJ's decision to move from Grattan Lodge in Laois, where he had piloted his market gardening concept, to Bayly Farm near Nenagh, to be near my sister and her family, had been a conscious decoupling from College political in-fighting. His move back to Dublin(20), where in 1964 he took a house in Dundrum, corresponded to the revival of his interest in the Berkeley project.
JJ and PartitionThere was among JJ's papers, dated September 1963, an outline plan for the 1963-64 season of the Irish Association(21). It is appropriate here to extract a few quotes from a document which foreshadows current all-Ireland aspirations under the Good Friday Agreement.
"...For the comfort of the Northern minority may I point out that there is a possible analogy between the present relations of NI with the Republic and those of Scotland with England prior to the l8th century? Highlanders and Lowlanders were not the best of friends and there were religious as well as racial conflicts and differences. The Union of 1707 gave political form to a single British Nation, but there remains a strong sense of national individuality in Scotland and England as well as Wales. The Northern minority should co-operate in developing a sense of a common Ulster nationality which already exists in more than germ..."
"...We may as well admit that both islands have lost something by the political separation of 1922, as well as gained something, we hope a great deal. Ireland has a kind of Siamese twin, or triplet, relationship with the larger island, but the present political set-up does not always ensure that the larger twin, or triplet, will behave with consideration to one of the smaller. Our problem is to create, on EEC lines, a relationship between our three political entities which will be more advantageous all round, without prejudice to national and cultural values, and without impairing the present constitutional position...."
"..A Common Market of the British Isles would imply agreement between the UK Government (in consultation with the Government of NI) and the Republic to make a rapid transition to a common tariff surrounding these islands. The proceeds of the tariff would have to be distributed on some statistical basis between the Exchequers concerned.
"That by itself would imply free access for NI exports (as also for British exports) to the Republican market. To temper the wind to the shorn lamb of Irish industry a 10% customs ring might be maintained round all Ireland against British imports of goods competitive with Irish industrial products - this on the analogy of the 1800 - 1820 position. Southern industry would have enough to do in competing with exports from NI, and both areas might need a little protection from high-powered British salesmanship in their home market. The Border as a customs phenomenon would go and we would revert to the position that prevailed in 1922-23 before it was decided (to my horror) to turn the present Border into a customs frontier.
"There are other implications of course. There could no longer be different prices for the same quality of the same agricultural product in a common market of the British Isles. If agricultural prices to the Republic farmers could be raised to the scale now enjoyed by farmers in GB and NI it would add about £60,000,000 per annum to the income of Republic agriculturalists or about £150 per person so occupied..."
The Wolfe Tone BicentenaryPrior to my return to Ireland in September 1963, the republican movement had been feeling its way, under the influence of Cathal Goulding and others, towards politicising its approach to national unification.
A Wolfe Tone Committee had been set up to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his birth; Sinn Fein was aware of it. The Ard Comhairle meeting on Feb 3 1963 had submitted Sean Cronin and Brian O'Higgins as names for it(22). It is not clear from the Sinn Fein record who was on it, or by whom it was set up. Presumably it can be inferred that the 'other branch' (namely the IRA) established it; Tomas Mac Giolla considers that this probably was Cathal Goulding at work. Brian O'Higgins died shortly after this. The recommendation of Cronin would have been the influence of the IRA people on the Ard Comhairle. He had been Chief of Staff at the beginning of the 1950s campaign, had been interned, being replaced by Ruairi O Bradaigh, and as usual in the Curragh had become political-minded.
There had been a suggestion from Dublin Comhairle Ceanntar (Regional Council) of Sinn Fein to hold a meeting on Cave Hill, near Belfast, in memory of the Wolfe Tone / Thomas Russell 'oath' occasion which took place there, and it was agreed that this be passed to the Wolfe Tone Committee. This Cave Hill meeting subsequently took place, as part of the pre-history of the process of foundation of the Belfast Wolfe Tone Society; it would then have been organised by the Belfast Wolfe Tone 'Directory'.
There was a Convention of Wolfe Tone 'Directories' in May 1963 which took place in Dublin and included the following(23):
Dublin: Sean Cronin, Harry White, Dick Roche, Uinsean Mac Eoin, Lorcan Leonard, Cathal Goulding, Deasun Breathnach, Ciaran mac an Aili and Terry Conneally;
How was this group identified, selected, assembled? It was probably as a result of personal contact by Cathal Goulding. Apart from Sean Cronin it consisted of a mix of people with 1930s and 1940s republican backgrounds, supported by various professionals, mostly journalists, who were republican sympathisers willing to explore the political road, and unhappy with the Sinn Fein constraints. It had nothing to do with Sinn Fein; the Sinn Fein minutes at this time show only 'fuzzy' knowledge of it. It represented the measure of Goulding's perception of political reform potential, as seen from the perspective of the IRA, as it remained in vestigial existence in 1963. The word 'Directory' I suspect probably is Fenian/IRB usage, looking back to the United Irishmen and the French Revolution.
A Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle meeting took place on the same weekend 11/05/63, from which the following has been abstracted, as well as some items from subsequent meetings: '...there was a perceived need to clarify the WT committee position, and to get the United Irishman to publish a letter from the Secretary..'.
At a meeting two weeks later Eamonn Mac Tomáis reported to the Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle on proposed Wolfe Tone activities. The need to link with Sinn Fein must however have been recognised by Goulding, because Eamonn Mac Tomáis appeared in the Wolfe Tone Directory records for the first time on June 4, enabling him to report on June 5. Goulding must have invited him.
The Wolfe Tone Convention outlined an ambitious programme of events, pageantry, music, in various locations. The Cork events were to be associated with Thomas Russell's birthplace, Belfast events with the graves of Hope, Orr and Russell; there was a definite aspiration to reach out to the Protestant republican tradition: '...to use the Tone Bicentenary as a launching point from which the doctrine of Republicanism could be taught anew so that Tone's aim of a free, united Ireland, in which Catholic and Dissenter would work together in harmony and liberty, would be soon achieved..'.
On July 26 the Wolfe Tone Directory finalised the plans for the Mansion House meetings planned for mid-September: Roger McHugh, a sympathetic UCD lecturer, to act as Director; lectures to be from himself, Hubert Butler, Ciaran Mac an Aili, Jack Bennett and Sean Cronin. Sean Bermingham and Terry Conneally were to be co-opted to the Directory. A letter went out seeking financial support for the series.
On August 24 1963 the Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle received a letter from TP Connealy seeking a speaker for a housing protest. John Joe McGirl proposed 'issuing a statement'. Terry Connealy was active in the Wolfe Tone Directory (WTD) from the beginning, and in the Wolfe Tone Society (WTS) from June 1964 onwards, participating in the Housing Action Committee events; for example there was, circa 1965, a march on the Mansion House at which he and I met the Mayor. So Connealy in the WTD was part of the emergent left trend which saw the WTS as an outlet. Note that this episode pre-dates my presence in Ireland; I did not get back till September 1963.
On Oct 8 the WTD records note that the group now included Uinsean Mac Eoin, Lorcan Leonard, Harry White, Deasun Breathnach, Eamonn Mac Tomais, Terry Conneally, Cathal Goulding and Dick Roche. An offer from Sairseal & Dill to publish the lecture series was considered. Hubert Butler had invited 'members of the Directory' to his home in Kilkenny; UMacE and LL went. Jack Bennett and Liam Burke were to speak at a meeting in Glencolumcille, Co Donegal. UMacE, LL and RR were to attend SF Ard Fheis in Moran's Hotel to sell literature. UMacE and LL were to survey Tailors Hall and liaise with Maire Comerford(24).
Thus the Wolfe Tone Directories were clearly set on the road to broad-based politicisation, taking on board the Protestant interests via Hubert Butler, before I had become involved.
A key meeting of representatives of the Wolfe Tone Directories took place in Dundalk on November 24 1963, involving Liam Burke, Tomas Mac Giolla, Martin Shannon, Uinsean Mac Eoin and Dick Roche. It was decided that the WT group would continue in existence under a new title, not as a political party, but to be 'agitational and educational' and to formulate a programme for the future.
Martin Shannon at this time was the Editor of the United Irishman. TMacG was standing in for Cathal Goulding representing the Army Council, which clearly regarded the Directory as its property. The concept of the 'think tank' to supply the UI and the movement generally with ideas was emerging. I was unaware of this meeting, though I remember meeting with TMacG around this time, and picking up indications that changes were in prospect; I had attended the Mansion House lectures, and been somewhat enthused by them.
On January 14 1964 the first WT meeting post-Dundalk took place; it included Uinsean MacEoin, Lorcan Leonard, Harry White, Richard Roche and for the first time the present writer RJ. There were reports on local meetings, and a draft plan by UMacE was approved for discussion at an extended meeting on Sunday January 26. This took place, with the above and Deasun Breathnach, E Mac Thomais, Sean Bermingham, Sean Cronin, Liam Burke, Jack Bennett and Terry Conneally also present. The meeting was inconclusive, except in that it was decided that the Cave Hill commemoration should continue.
At the February 11 WTD meeting there were present Uinsean MacEoin, RJ, Harry White, Cathal Goulding, Terry Conneally, Dick Roche, Padraig O Nuallain (an executive with the New Ireland Insurance Co, with a Clann na Poblachta background), Deasun Breathanach and one J Kennedy. An all-Ireland meeting was projected for Belfast. The Essay Prize was considered. A 'Ballad night' concept linked to a structured political mini-drama was projected; the sub-committee to run it included Mairin Johnston. A 'Who Owns Ireland' booklet was suggested by the present writer, and it was agreed to co-operate with SF in drafting their social and economic programme. Deasun Breathnach mentioned a co-op in Ballymena.
The experience of the Connolly Association and the work of Eamonn McLoughlin in structuring political mini-dramas based on ballads with interconnected scripting seemed to me to be relevant; ballad nights were all the rage at the time, with the revival of interest in Irish folk music, and Mairin was well established in the genre. The Ballymena co-op suggests the beginnings of an understanding of the need to build bridges into Protestant culture, though this was never followed up.
The Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle meeting on March 7 1964 dealt with the Ard Fheis resolutions: No 5 was to put in a new economic programme, and a committee working on this was said to include Rory O'Driscoll, Gerry McCarthy, Niall Fagan, Sean Corish, S O Cleirigh (Jackie Clarke), Tom Mitchell, Eamonn MacThomais, Redmond O'Sullivan, Larry Grogan, Wally Lynch, Sean O Bradaigh, John Joe McGirl...
I have no recollection of any WTD or WTS interaction with this committee, but I seem to remember attending a Sinn Fein dinner in some place like Enniscorthy or Gorey in the spring of 1964, at which Rory O'Driscoll presided. This was my first official encounter, by invitation; it was probably an Easter event. I remember getting the measure of Rory as a classic, almost caricature, Fenian schoolteacher.
On April 22 1964 Desmond Greaves(25) attended an anti-apartheid meeting in the Mansion House, where he was impressed by the contribution of Barry Desmond (then an official with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, whom CDG noted as Anthony Coughlan's friend). He commented '...the Labour Party would never dream of holding a meeting to protest against apartheid in Northern Ireland...'. Others present included Micheal O Riordain, Justin and Loretta Keating and Justin's mother May, Johnny Nolan, Frank Edwards and Michael O'Leary (later Tanaiste). Anthony Coughlan (AC) was on the committee of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement which had organised the meeting, and Greaves noted that '..AC told me an interesting thing told him in Dublin, namely that Martin Ennals came back from the six counties two years ago with material completely condemning the six-county government.... but was prevented from publishing it on the intervention of Transport House as embarrassing to the Labour Party..'.
Thus the early republican politicisation process, and the Civil Rights approach to the Northern Ireland question, were at this time on separate tracks. I had my feet in both camps. During this time however I was in the US on Aer Lingus business(26), but I was aware of the role of the Irish Anti-Apartheid movement led by the South African TCD law lecturer Kader Asmal and his wife Louise, and had recognised the relevance of its campaign to the Northern situation.
During this time there was tension between Irish Workers' League and the Connolly Association; Greaves had since the mid-1950s been leading the latter towards concentration on Civil Rights issues in the North, while the IWL emigrants were still organising, along with various ultra-leftist groups, to collect money in London for the IWL in Dublin, with the tacit support of the CPGB, an activity which had originated in the 1950s and still persisted.
These issues remained unresolved, being muddied by the theoretical confusion of the international movement, with Trotskyite and Chinese factions emerging to undermine the high church of post-Stalinist CP orthodoxy. The Greaves policy with the Connolly Association was being promoted largely in spite of the CPGB and the IWL. This had been the position since 1955, when it had adopted a new constitution, clarifying its independent role.
In Belfast on June 6 1964 CDG by invitation delivered a paper on 'British Policy Towards Ireland' at a weekend school organised jointly by the NICP and the IWL; there were 17 from the South and 25 from the North; the present writer was there along with George Jeffares, Sam Nolan, Johnny Nolan, Paddy Carmody and others; Betty Sinclair and Billy McCullough were there from the North. Greaves '...avoided (contemporary) policy like the plague..' knowing the current differences of view. He sat in on the session the following day, listening to Carmody, whose talk was based on the Labhras O Nuallain economic analysis, and ignored CDG's own subsequent work critical of Barritt and Carter. Andy Barr spoke on trade unionism without introducing any political dimension, displeasing Betty Sinclair. O'Riordain enthused about the breadth of the participation (North, South and Irish in Britain) but showed no awareness of the potential role of the Labour movement in Britain, CDG's chief target.
On July 2 1964 in Dublin Greaves recorded attending a meeting of Sceim na gCeardcumainn, a trade-union based Irish language group, addressed by Micheal O'Leary. There was much reportage and controversy, and they got bogged down in electoral procedures. Packy Early, Barry Desmond, Mairin Johnston, Donal Donnelly, Des Geraghty were there among others (including the present writer). He concluded '..my impression is however that this movement will not come to anything as no person of much consequence in the labour movement is in it..'. He attributed the origins and objective of the movement to '...Tony Coughlan, Packy Early and others for introducing the Gaelic language and "Irish Irelandism" into the trade union movement, and a very queer outfit it seemed. The chair was taken by the most incredible waffler I have ever seen...'. Later Mairin and I went up to Finglas to Cathal MacLiam's, with whom CDG used to stay on his periodic research visits to Dublin, and we spent the evening with CDG; we confirmed his negative assessment of the Sceim.
The Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle minutes of 04/07/64 contain a reference to my 'economic resistance' paper for the Wolfe Tone Society: it was agreed to pass it for discussion at cumann level. This was the present writer's first appearance on the minuted SF record. The paper was subsequently published in the October 1964 United Irishman(27); there was an introductory section which showed how imperialist economic forces worked within a unified financial system, with the partitioned State incapable of effectively controlling them in the people's interests. The task of the movement had up to now been seen as simply the ending of Partition, and in this we had not been successful. It would be necessary to give a lead to the spontaneous movement of economic resistance which was beginning to emerge in the West, in the form of co-operative organisations of small farmers, and small-scale local industrial initiatives, based on locally produced raw materials. Workers and management in the State sector of industry were identified as being part of the 'economic resistance', which also included primary producers, workers and traders co-operatives, locally based transport systems, with gombeen parasitic capitalism being replaced by community enterprise. The Ralahine model, as outlined by Connolly, was mentioned. Links between producers and urban consumers would require the development of a consumer co-op movement in the cities. The Credit Union movement was identified a means of organising a financial system supportive of local co-operative enterprise.
This is actually close to the thinking of JJ, Horace Plunkett and George Russell, viewed in retrospect. There certainly was an emphasis against the simplistic two-class model of traditional Marxism, and a desire to involve 'working owner-managers and self-employed' along with 'workers' among the progressive forces; also a feeling of the need to transform 'workers' into 'worker-owners' of their co-operatively owned workplaces. Industrial, commercial and social democracy would need a favourable environment within a framework of political democracy. On the whole I think it was theoretically a positive document, but perhaps the people who were influenced by it were too steeped in militaristic and elitist culture to interpret it validly, though as we have seen Goulding was supportive when I was being attacked by Mac Stiofain.
Thus for about a year after my return I was searching around for opportunities to broaden the movement, while staying in touch with the IWL. Then some time around June or July 1964 I decided to drop out from the Irish Workers League and throw in my lot with the politicising republicans, on the assurance from Cathal Goulding that he wanted help in converting the IRA from an illegal army into a democratically disciplined political movement reflecting the interests of the working people as a whole, broadly based on the socialist ideas of Marx, as adapted by Connolly to the Irish situation.
Foundation of the Dublin Wolfe Tone SocietyOn July 25 1964 at a general meeting of the Directory, RJ presiding, and Uinsean Mac Eoin, S Mac Domhnaill, Ethna MacManus, Seamus Costello, Deasun Breathnach, Richard Roche and Cathal Goulding present, a motion was proposed by Uinsean Mac Eoin, seconded by Deasun Breathnach and passed by five votes to one with two abstentions: 'that the Wolfe Tone Directories be wound up and their activities be terminated; that a new society, namely Muintir Wolfe Tone (Wolfe Tone Society) be formed and that all assets and liabilities of the Wolfe Tone Directories devolve on it.' The constitution was amended and adopted(28). RJ took on to be vice-chair and to handle publicity; Dick Roche remained as Secretary. Other posts remained to be filled.
Ethna MacManus, a pharmacist working in Dublin, at the time was one of my 'contacts' among whom were beginning to take shape strategies for the development of political left-republicanism. She had earlier been associated with co-operative developments in Killala, and had standing with the republicans, having provided a 'safe house' during the 1950s. She had when living in Killala been attempting to work 'bottom up', organising from the grass-roots, in association with the Mayo politicising republicans, and had had modest success.
An effort was made to recruit Michael O'Leary, then active in the Labour Party, but without success. Padraig O Nuallain agreed to act as Chairman, and Uinsean Mac Eoin as treasurer. The concept of 'economic resistance movement' was developed; there was contact with Fr McDyer the Glencolumcille co-operative priest, and with Peadar O'Donnell; the need for Donegal-Derry linkages was promoted(29). Some time after this there was a debate with Clann na Poblachta in Powers Hotel; this took place on November 2 1964. Justin Keating was present on the occasion, and was subsequently co-opted as a member.
We were making an attempt to build a group fit to involve people who subsequently became leading Labour Party intellectuals. Our re-think of the 'national question' in the Wolfe Tone tradition had aroused a flicker of interest. Anthony Coughlan at this time was supportive of his old UCC colleague and current flatmate Michael O'Leary.
The McDyer enterprise in Donegal was in touch with small farmers clubs in Mayo; a possible role for Sceim na gCeardcumann emerged; RJ was to speak to them(30). The key concept was the need to find means of linking urban workers with the projected rural co-operative movement revival. There were also notes towards the development of a 'co-operative congress', with urban, industrial and consumer dimensions as well as primary producers.
Greaves meanwhile in London was making attempts to develop co-operation with Clann na hEireann, the republican emigrant body. This was fraught with the usual tensions, with the Clann actively competing, and in some cases attempting to hijack or dominate Connolly Association meetings. His visits to Belfast, undertaken primarily in the context of his Mellows researches, also involved meetings with Jack and Anna Bennett (with whom he usually stayed when in Belfast), and with Sean Caughey, the Sinn Fein election agent. The latter's vision, CDG noted, was between elections in 1964 in the North and 1966 in the South to get the makings of an all-Ireland Dail which would legislate for the whole of Ireland. CDG later agreed with JB that Caughey was 'bonkers'.
At the Wolfe Tone Society on October 20 1964 RJ was in the chair, present were EMacM, S Cronin, UMacE, A Coughlan, RR, TC, DB, J Keating and C Goulding. RJ was to meet with Peadar O'Donnell the following Saturday. JK reported on a meeting with a group from the USSR, in the context of trade development. There was talk of a 'freedom train' to run from Dublin to Derry, as part of a campaign against closure of the direct Dublin-Derry railway, then imminent.
This was Anthony Coughlan's first Wolfe Tone Society meeting; nothing came of the 'freedom train' concept, alas. RJ's Peadar O'Donnell meeting was in the context of the 'economic resistance' concept, which had been promoted in the October 1964 United Irishman. In retrospect, this promotion was a mistake, in that it associated the concept with an explicit Republican ideology, this arousing suspicion in the mind of Peadar O'Donnell, whose experience of the movement was based on its form in the past, rather than the form to which we aspired.
The Peadar O'Donnell meeting subsequently yielded plans for a conference in the Gresham with Sceim na gCeardcumann, County Associations etc, and an invited audience, including WTS representatives.
Uinsean Mac Eoin later proposed and Padraig O Nuallain seconded a motion calling on the Government to purchase the assets of the Northern railways should Stormont decide to close them down, and keep them going.
Round about November 1964 the present writer was considering changing his job, leaving Aer Lingus and going to work in the Institute of Industrial Research and Standards (IIRS). I had applied for, and had been offered, the job, but then later the offer was withdrawn. The Special Branch must have been active. There were various episodes around this time which suggested that Marxist-democratic politicisation of the republican movement was regarded by the Government as a real threat, and they were prepared to resort to dirty tricks to inhibit this process.
I attended some of the 1964 Sinn Fen Ard Fheis as a visitor, courtesy of Tomas Mac Giolla. I picked up some of the flavour of the situation, enough to suggest that there was indeed here some genuine radical democratic potential, despite the overlay of militarist irredentism. Seamus Costello and Sean Bermingham were elected to the Ard Comhairle. Motion 24, from Newry, urged the formation of Republican Clubs in the six counties, to overcome the problem of Sinn Fein being banned. This was passed with some amendment of wording. Motion 68 from Blessington was passed, calling for a national scheme of resistance to foreign take-over of land and industry, with a National Convention being convened to discuss the issue among concerned organisations.
The foregoing perhaps suggests that the October United Irishman article on 'economic resistance' had been read and was being taken seriously. We have summarised it above.
CDG on December 7 1964 recorded that Cathal MacLiam and he went to a Wolfe Tone Society meeting, where Ethna MacManus read a paper on Irish trade. '..Interesting things were said, and the representative of the big bourgeoisie present left the Sinn Feiners and IWL people without a stitch of policy. RHWJ brought in Partition effectively enough, and proposed a resolution for opening trade and diplomatic relations with all countries..... there is as much chance of Ireland abandoning Fianna Fail (or Fine Gael) in the near future as there is of water flowing uphill...'.
The next day CDG had lunch with the present writer; the penultimate paragraph in the December 7 entry is worth quoting in full: '...(RHWJ) said Cathal Goulding has gone to London (to look into) the demonstration which happened during the election, and that having heard I was in Dublin expressed a desire to see me. He is Cathal (MacLiam)'s first cousin so I suggested to Cathal we might invite him up. Taking all in all, things are progressing here as well as can be expected. The younger people with the Connolly Association experience are becoming personally acceptable to the Republicans, and after Monday's meeting RHWJ and Sean Cronin went off to AC's flat where the young Labour hero Michael O'Leary is sharing, and so all heads clarify each other by mutual interaction..'.
So on December 10 1964 Cathal Goulding arrived at MacLiams, and Greaves had the pleasure of introducing him to the cousin he had never met. CG had been supportive of Fitzmaurice and the joint Clann-CA demonstration; there was talk of 'pulling a fast one' on one O'Sullivan (who presumably was in the Clann leadership and hostile to the CA); CDG warned that such 'fast ones' usually slowed down genuine political development. He wanted to keep the door to co-operation open. Greaves noted: '...He said he and his colleagues were thinking in broader political terms than in the past. He struck me as a shrewd experienced revolutionary, but without much basic political knowledge... without a grasp of the laws of social evolution. The interesting thing is that he is prepared to support political action on matters of common concern. But like O'Riordain he appears to believe developments in Britain can be directed from Dublin...'.
Goulding was here trying, somewhat clumsily, to come to terms with the existence of the CA in London, and smooth its relationship with Clann na hEireann, in accordance with his policy of convergence with the Left.
Then on December 12 Greaves recorded an encounter with Peadar O'Donnell, Ethna MacManus and the present writer '..Roy pushing ahead quicker than things can go, and Peadar obstructing and driving Roy wild. I kept out of it..'. Peadar it seems wanted Sceim na gCeardcumann to push his Defence of the West ideas in Dublin, but found it somewhat of an amorphous body... 'they don't know what their aims are... there's a fellow from Trinity College at the top of it, and he's rather academic..', referring to Anthony Coughlan. Peadar later got his way with the Sceim through Donal Donnelly.
So we see at the end of 1964 the basis for Left-republican convergence is being laid, and some elements perhaps capable of forming part of a broad-based movement for national unity, based on a co-operative philosophy, and with both urban and rural roots, were beginning to emerge. Desmond Greaves was observing this as a complementary progressive political development which could become 'all-Ireland' provided the Civil Rights issue in the North were to be resolved.
Survival as a ScientistThe move back to Ireland in September 1963 was as a consequence of joining Aer Lingus to participate in the real-time reservations system project. In this context I discovered that what I had been doing in Guinness had a name: it was in fact Systems Engineering, and this was a stepping-stone in the direction of Operations Research, which role crystallised out in the Aer Lingus epoch, via the techno-economic analysis of various projected systems with the aid of the computer.
This of course led straight back to Bernal, with his early association with Operations Research during the war, and the role of physics people in helping to transfer the art of mathematical modelling of systems towards the techno-economic and socio-technical domains. This was the means whereby I justified my existence in the context of the Aer Lingus 'real-time computer project'(26). I went on to identify the problem of how the likes of me, as a physicist, could make out in a relatively undeveloped socio-economic system, as Ireland was in the 50s and 60s, as being a 'science and society' problem. How could the Irish scientific community, such as it was, be motivated to consider it?
There were two channels that seemed to be open; one was to set up some sort of organisation for physics in Ireland within which physicists could interact and develop a sense of community, and the other was to help develop the Operations Research community to a level where it had some recognition in the Irish academic system. The airline OR community already had an international network, with an annual conference, and our work in applying computer-based modelling to the aircraft purchase process had achieved some recognition(26). We used this to help build an OR network within Ireland.
The first (physics) channel let to the setting up of the Irish Branch of the Institute of Physics. PMS Blackett came over from Manchester for the inaugural event, which was supported by ETS Walton the TCD physics Professor and Nobel Prize winner, and by TE Nevin his opposite number in UCD. This Blackett contact constituted a (somewhat tenuous) link with the Bernal network of left-wing scientists, and with the origins of Operations Research in the work of physicists during the war. The second (Operations Research) channel led to an attempt to mobilise some pressure on the academic system to become interested in OR-type postgraduate work. This influenced FG Foster, the new Professor of Statistics in TCD, to initiate in 1970 an MSc in Statistics and Operations Research.
Earlier the OECD had sponsored a Report 'Science in Irish Economic Development' of which the authors were Patrick Lynch of UCD and HMS 'Dusty' Miller then head of R&D in Bord na Mona. This was, in effect, a Bernalist 'science and society' analysis of the Irish situation, as was subsequently admitted orally to me by Patrick Lynch, though Bernal at the time was unmentionable, being Marxist. Miller I understand had earlier had a left-wing background in England. Together they produced a document which was influential in turning the attention of the Government to the need to recognise science as a key factor in the national development programme. Miller however realised that if it was left to the Civil Service as it was then to take initiatives, nothing would happen; it was necessary to politicise the issues.
I later got to review the 1964 OECD Report(31) in the December 1966 issue of a monthly publication called 'Development', edited by Jim Gilbert, which was widely read in 1960s innovative management circles. Here are my contemporary comments via that channel:
"The survey team who have produced the White Paper on Science and Irish Economic Development are to be complimented on a comprehensive and courageous production which cuts across Departmental boundaries and exposes the lack of central responsibility for science policy or even means of formulating it. The changes it proposes are profound, some may say revolutionary. Justice cannot be done to it in a short article: however, some points can be picked out which will help to place it on the "must" list.
"The report finds that with few exceptions the Irish science '...effort is piecemeal, scattered thinly, not always related to national needs and so uncoordinated that it tends to undue overlap in some subjects and to an absence of activities in other important fields. Agricultural research is highly developed and organised, whereas Industrial research is relatively non-existent...'."
To follow up on the OECD Report 'Dusty' Miller called a meeting of people from the Dublin-based science and engineering organisations, and leavened this elitist mix with people from the Regional Science Councils, which had emerged to form the makings of a scientific community outside Dublin, based largely on the personnel of the State agencies. This led to the formation of the Council for Science and Technology in Ireland (CSTI) which was a loose federation of several science and engineering bodies based in Dublin, and the Regional Science Councils. It used to meet in the Institution of Engineers of Ireland premises in Clyde Road, and I became Secretary.
One of the objectives of the CSTI was to help in the formulation of a national science policy, with particular reference to the needs of the rapidly expanding applied science sector. Ray Keary, a geologist, wrote on May 26 1966 an article in the Irish Times entitled A Neglected Science in which he castigated the Government for its neglect of the Geological Survey. This drew a response from PS Doughty of the Ulster Museum which referred to the 'futile retrospective tide of nationalism (sweeping all) rational thought away'.
This was an opportunity for me as Secretary of the CSTI to take up; I published a letter in the Irish Times on June 7 1966 in response to the Keary-Doughty exchange of Irish Times letters. Arising from Keary's reference to the Avoca mine closure I mentioned that I had heard from a number of reputable independent sources that it was not unconnected with the disclosure of the value of an ore concentrate cargo which took place when a ship ran aground and had to be salvaged. I had also heard from university geologists concerned that it was remarkably difficult for student groups to got access to the Avoca workings for educational purposes.
This prompted me to ask what was the true nature of the deal which has been done between the State and the foreign company that we are permitting at Tynagh to exploit our natural resources? Are we in receipt of royalties? If so, how are they calculated? Ray Keary had suggested that we should have a resident State scientific staff checking the exported concentrate so as to enable royalties to be calculated. Yet the history of Avoca and Ray Keary's article suggested that we were not. Dr O'Connell in the Dail had attempted to have disclosed the terms of the contract between the State and the exploiting company. He was told that this was not available. Were we letting these people extract our mineral wealth in return for merely the wages of the workers?
I went on to comment that Mr Doughty had put his finger on the weakness of the type of 26 county nationalism that used the language as a shibboleth, and liked to think of a 26 County Catholic republic, with religious sectarianism built into its Constitution, and a partitioned university structure in Dublin. So emasculated had Irish science become under this dead hand that the situation so accurately described by Ray Keary had been allowed to develop in most if not all branches of science.
I criticised the Doughty response: the relative good fortune of Six County geology was, like the National Health Service, a product of a decision made in London that happened to benefit a part of Ireland. Suppose a London government were to decide that all geological work was to be handed over to the Americans?
I concluded by urging that we should plan our own resources without interference from outside, and without having to depend on hand-outs from any other nation. We could get by very comfortably if we devoted one tenth the effort per capita that the so-called advanced nations spend on rocketry and armaments to 'making two blades of grass grow where one grew before'.. Small-nation science, if imaginatively fostered by an enlightened government, could point the way to relieving the chronic famines of the '80s and '90s which will be with us if present population trends continue.
I conceded that Doughty's Unionism was right from the point of view of Science until it was proved wrong by the replacement of the Daniel O'Connell / Tierney / de Valera / AOH concept of the nation by that of Wolfe Tone and Connolly. On this unashamedly political note I closed....
I 'went for broke' on this, given that the CSTI had on the whole not worked as an active lobby to the extent that its founders had hoped. I hoped by this somewhat aggressive approach to provoke people to come to the AGM, but unfortunately the CSTI withered, and its constituent members dispersed to the separate camps, leaving their members dependent on the somewhat modest hand-outs from the National Science Council which in the end was established, on the traditional patronage basis with Ministerial nominees.
The historical parallel had been drawn between the CSTI as being to the Royal Irish Academy what the British Association was to the Royal Society in the mid 19th century. There was a grain of truth in this; the CSTI however was unable to become a powerful enough lobby. The experience did however generate a demand which fuelled the writer's Science in Ireland series of articles in the Irish Times(32), the purpose of which was to indicate some ways in which science, technology and economic development interacted. This was commissioned by the then Features Editor Fergus Pyle as a consequence of the Ray Keary article and my subsequent letter.
1965: Republican Political Education BeginsActing as Cathal Goulding's 'political education officer' on behalf of his 'HQ Staff', I had my first encounter with the Dublin unit of the then 'IRA', which took place in Howth, on March 7 1965, in the company of Ethna MacManus(33). This was my first attempt to feel my way interactively into the political thinking of the type of people who were motivated to join the Dublin unit at the time, mostly by some kind of romantic militarism, or a sense of adventure.
I tried to explain that the secondary effects of Partition generated problems that needed to be addressed, and by organising to do this, we come in contact with a wide variety of people, with whom we can build an organised approach to the achievement of desirable tactical objectives. In this process we had the opportunity of playing a leading role, but we would have to earn it. Father McDyer's 'co-operative of 10 subsistence farmers' had showed development potential for local leadership. Could this be replicated elsewhere, and also in an urban working environment? If so, there was the possibility of developing a 32-county Co-operative Congress, to which people would look for ideas, rather than to the two partitioned administrations.
I went on to generalise this to the existing 32-county Trade Union movement, within which organised approaches to local issues were feasible, ranging from worker co-operative takeovers of local mills, to lobbying the Dublin government to help keep the Shorts factory open in Belfast, and in general in support of the transformation of the Northern engineering industry away from imperial and towards national objectives. Why should the Sugar Company have to go to Germany to get its equipment? etc.
I was promoting a concept of an active politically conscious trade union and co-operative movement, which understood the importance of an all-Ireland approach to employment, market development, welfare etc, as a stage in laying the basis for a possibly future 1918-type election; this was of course the alternative to militarism. I went on to suggest that the 'army', if it were to take seriously its claim to be the 'legitimate government of the country', should go out and 'survey the battlefield'; in other words, get a feel for the local political, economic and social issues which have, however indirectly, an all-Ireland dimension.
During the next few months I met with various 'army' units, such as they were, throughout the country, and conveyed a message along these lines, with local variations. Those who took it up, and many did, remained with the movement in the 1970s and were not taken in by the 'provisional' nonsense. Some became co-operative and trade union activists, I have since gathered anecdotally, but I am unable to quantify the extent that this took place.
I put the 'army' in quotes because, as Mick Ryan(34) has since confirmed, the impression that I then picked up was that the IRA did not then exist as a serious military organisation; it consisted of a few groups of local activist visionaries held together by local O/Cs nominated by Goulding; I doubt if there were more that 200 in the whole country.
There was a Wolfe Tone Society meeting on March 9 1965, to which Cathal Goulding came (he had attended a few of the earlier meetings, but later attendances were rare). A meeting in Belfast was projected around Easter. A memo by Kader Asmal was noted; RJ had seen Edgar Deale and noted that his organisation, the Irish Association for Civil Liberty (IACL), did not take initiatives on the Offences Against the State (OAS) Act. Names were targeted for circulation of the Asmal memo, which related to civil liberties in the South.
We have here a clear indication of the beginnings of the Civil Rights approach, supported by Kader Asmal, who was then leader of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement. A copy of a letter from RJ to Jack Bennett has turned up relating to the projected meeting in Belfast; it was intended that the meeting should be supportive of the New University of Ulster being located in Derry, and urged that there be a Donegal dimension, and a proposal for it to be associated with a scheme for the integrated development of the North-West, a jointly-funded cross-border body. It was also suggested that a ballad concert should have an orange and green theme, with interspersed narrative. There was also a cryptic reference to Shorts, the Belfast aircraft factory and a Protestant stronghold, indicating an aspiration to achieve left-wing trade-union contact in the context.
Meanwhile in London the NCCL conference(35) had been planned for the small Conway Hall but they had to move to the larger one because UTV had become involved, due to the interest in NI civil rights. Sean Caughey, Betty Sinclair, Dr McCluskey(36) and Austin Currie all contributed. The overall result of this was positive and a significant step in the direction of achieving a cross-community civil rights movement in NI, and of breaking down the barriers between the 'catholic nationalist' tradition and that of Marxist-democracy.
At the May 4 1965 meeting of the Wolfe Tone Society it was noted that the sponsors of the Asmal Civil Rights document included (UCD Professor) Roger McHugh, Hubert Butler, Joe Johnston and the new Professor of Law in TCD (this must have been JD Morton, who had joined the College on January 1 1965; he would have responded to an approach by Kader Asmal).. This document had been agreed at an earlier meeting on March 30, and was an attempt to get an effective civil liberties movement going in the South. Anthony Coughlan, Uinsean Mac Eoin and Kader Asmal were to meet Edgar Deale and Christopher Gore-Grimes to negotiate the formation of a new body. This was the genesis of 'Citizens for Civil Liberties' (CCL). There was here an inter-generational link; Edgar Deale's name has already occurred among the supporters of JJ's early co-operative campaigning, and JJ supported the current initiative. The fact that JJ had signed the document would have encouraged Edgar Deale to do business with the current generation of Civil Liberties activists. Nothing much came of this initiative however in the short term, though in the long run it led, via CCL, to the foundation of the current Irish Council for Civil Liberties.
Meanwhile in the North Greaves in his diary described a 'historic event' on May 6 1965 in the Belfast ATGWU hall: '...there were about a hundred present.... these included all political parties but Unionists and Nationalists.. It was interesting to hear the Catholic delegates of the ITGWU getting up explaining discrimination to Protestants who were listening for the first time. There was unfortunately no declaration against discrimination from a Protestant as such - though there were several speeches that assumed that attitude - and the strongest speeches came from people who described themselves as atheists, some from one side, others from the other. The republicans of course could not resist using the platform, and Sean Morrissy visibly squirmed, such is the duality of his position as an ex-republican. I had a talk with Andy Barr and Hughie Moore afterwards, and all agree it was a historic event, the fact that there was here a meeting of Protestant and Catholic workers under the auspices of the Labour movement directed to democratising the State...'.
Greaves subsequently held that this should have been the seed-bed for further developments, and that the NICRA, as it emerged from the War Memorial Hall meeting in 1966, was doomed to disaster due to its failure to develop organic links with the labour movement, and its inability to counter the influence of Ian Paisley on the Protestant working class; more on this later.
The initiative to set up the NICRA came subsequently via the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society, basically from Anthony Coughlan. It did not follow organically from the above May 6 1965 meeting. Had there been a follow-up from this meeting, the War Memorial Hall initiative would have not seemed necessary. The NICRA or its equivalent would perhaps have emerged with a stronger trade union basis. The politicising republicans would have supported this, without being able to project a sense of 'ownership', as subsequently happened with the NICRA, to the detriment of the latter. CDG at the time unfortunately was preoccupied with the terminal illness of his sister Phyllis, and it is tempting to conjecture how things might have developed had the civil rights movement emerged organically from the trade union movement, as CDG had hoped would happen, and as he might have been in a position to encourage, perhaps via the NCCL, had he been fully active.
Greaves recorded subsequently on May 9 1965 that '...Caughey had "felt there was something wrong" with the social and economic policy document..' (which the present writer had drafted for Sinn Fein), suggesting '...it should be sent to the Catholic Church for approval. Ruane indicated that he disagreed with this (on the grounds that)..RHWJ... as a Protestant might object. But he showed evident satisfaction at the fact that after being studied for three solid weeks by an eminent North of Ireland Catholic philosopher, it was pronounced unobjectionable to the clergy, and politically "revolutionary". So Caughey was satisfied. There was much dissatisfaction with Caughey... who else had they in the North? When they went up for the election campaign they found a political desert. So they had to give Caughey a free hand..'.
This shows the depths of the Catholic-nationalist mind-set of the Northern republicans, and the extent of the political vacuum that we needed to fill.
There was a Special Sinn Fein Ard Fheis on June 12-13 1965, the agenda(37) for which was the output of the 'conference of republicans' announced at the 1964 Ard Fheis in the Bricklayers Hall in the course of the Army Council Statement. It is to be seen as essentially an 'army' document, aimed at changing the politics of the more traditional Sinn Fein. The various clauses were put to the Ard Comhairle, which in some cases recommended them for adoption.
This was a serious attempt to initiate the transformation of Sinn Fein into a radical political force, taking full part in the activities of civil society in both parts of Ireland. It was the fruit of the politicisation process of the previous internment, and probably was drafted by Goulding and Costello(38) . I did not have any significant hand in it. It was an attempt to impose the 'advanced thinking' of the key 'army' people on the relatively reluctant Sinn Fein 'sea-green incorruptibles', at a rate somewhat faster than the latter were prepared to go. However some of the proposals did get past the Special Ard Fheis and the resulting atmosphere in Sinn Fein became more open to climatic change.
The key 'civil society enabling proposals' were in Section :
(b) That the whole question of attitude to be adopted by Republicans in prison be reconsidered with a view to revision of same.
(c) That there be no obstacle placed in the way of Republicans writing to government departments in the 6 Counties, 26 Counties or in Britain seeking information or requesting that something be done, etc.
(d) That Republicans acting as members of local organisations and not simply as Republicans be permitted and encouraged to take part in delegations to Ministers of any of the three governments administrating in Ireland.
This opening up however was marred by an over-riding philosophy of aspiration to 'own' broader organisations, and steer them into 'national question' issues. This comes over in Section :
 (a)That the essential work of the republican movement at present is the development of political and agitational activities and the infiltration and direction of other organisations.
Note the use of the word 'infiltration': this reflects traditional elitist 'army' thinking and I remember noting the need to campaign against the concept via the educational opportunities presented by the following sections. People should be active in organisations which genuinely reflect their broader interests as citizens or specialists of one kind or another, a process basically different from 'infiltration' as then perceived by the activists.
(b) That educational and training programmes in both organisations should be directed to this end. That one educational centre for all recruits to the Republican Movement be set up, details of organisation to be worked out by the executives of both branches.
(c) That closer integration of the executives of both organisations is essential. That this should be achieved by having the same people on both executives.
(d) That the structure and constitution of each organisation should be streamlined to provide for close co-operation between both at local level.
This was accepted by the Ard Comhairle, but at the Special Ard Fheis only (b) and (d) were carried; (c) was lost, and (a) was amended as follows:
"That the essential work of the Republican Movement at present is the development of political and agitational activities and the giving of leadership, internally and externally, and the involvement of other organisations in struggles for limited objectives as a preparation for an ultimate confrontation with the British Government on the national issue. This amendment does not accept Recommendation No. 9 as a logical extension of these recommendations."
Recommendation  was: "That the executives of both organisations give consideration to action within existing parliament(s) on a guerrilla basis as a logical extension of the activities outlined in Recommendation 1 re agitation." This was of course rejected by the Ard Comhairle.
The above amended 1(a) was inconsistent with the roles required for republican activists, in subsequent non-violent initiatives such as the NICRA, by those who were at this time promoting the politicisation process. It was closer to the Blaneyite approach which subsequently emerged post-1969, driving the Civil Rights campaign into the Catholic ghettos.
The minutes of the October 12 1965 WTS meeting record the Belfast Meeting: '...It was reported that a successful launching meeting had been held in Belfast between Dublin delegates R Johnston, Peter Kerr, Tony Coughlan and Uinsean Mac Eoin, and Belfast delegates Liam Barbour, Michael Dolley, Alec Foster, Jack Bennett and Liam Burke. It was agreed that for the moment the new group should concentrate its attentions on the civil rights issue, particularly the question of plural voting...
'..Contact was made with Republicans working on the same issue and it was learned that a Committee for Democratic Elections had been set up. Fred Heatley was asked and agreed to become Secretary of the new Belfast group. It was also made known that Ciaran Mac an Aili was prepared to read a paper which he had done for the UN on 'Civil Liberties North and South', to a meeting organised by the WTS in Belfast. It was agreed that invitations be sent to the UN Association in Belfast and that Prof J McCartney be invited to speak to the paper. It was suggested that the Committee for Democratic Elections should get in touch with the Campaign for Social Justice in Dungannon and, with an official link already in existence with the republican movement, to form a broad common platform on this issue with all similarly-minded organisations in the North..'.
It was urged that the Dublin WTS Constitution be adapted to serve the new group as the Belfast WTS.
The launch meeting of the Co-operative Development Trust (Comhar Linn)(39), chaired by Michael Viney, was reported in the November 1965 United Irishman. In the December issue there was an article by Hubert Butler reflecting on his own republican credentials. This also had an article by George Gilmore 'Gentlemen, you have a country', and one by Maire Comerford)(24) on Rhodesia.
At the Sinn Fein AC on 13/11/65 Sean O Bradaigh introduced his education plan. SF and the 'other branch' were supposed to be acting in tandem on this, with RJ supporting SOB in the 'other branch', as part of CG's plan to integrate both branches into a single political movement.
This, while well-intentioned, never worked. It was not clear who was taking initiatives.
Greaves on November 25 1965 recorded a meeting with RHWJ over lunch in Dublin; I was said to be in a state of enthusiasm '..over his co-operative pool and other activities, all of which will do some good... I was quite pleased, even if I do not have his expectations.... co-operative ideas are taking on. At the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis a motion referring to penetration by mysterious left-wingers was withdrawn...'.
This was Motion 46 which condemned Communism, opposed collaboration with Communist organisations, and called for expulsion of any member having known connections with communism. The Ard Comhairle record simply skips this, going on from 45 to 47. The number 46 appears in the minutes but is overwritten by 47. It is therefore not clear whether or how this was considered.
I suspect that this motion was aimed at getting rid of the present writer, and was prompted by the valid perception that Stalinist communism as practiced in the USSR was to be discouraged. The present writer had clearly dissociated himself, in his writings, from this position, promoting instead the Connolly tradition: economic democracy, with the Ralahine chapter in Labour in Irish History as model. Goulding accepted this, and was prepared to defend me from attacks from the right-wing traditionalist quarter.
I did not attend this Ard Fheis, which took place in Moran's Hotel. I had been working primarily with Cathal Goulding, in the 'other branch'. To establish my right to be involved with Sinn Fein required that various deadwood obstacles be removed, and this now took place.
Greaves was prepared to be supportive of my interest in this direction, regarding it as perhaps a good counter to the traditional republican 'stunt' culture, and a step in the direction of learning about the organisation of civil society. In hindsight, my perception at the time was indeed over-optimistic, and developments in this direction were rapidly overwhelmed by the developing Northern situation, as we shall see.
On December 2 Greaves encountered Tony Meade who enthused about Brian Farrington's essay on Yeats, published as a Connolly Association pamphlet, which the United Irishman was reviewing.
During this time I had been active in the West, and I regaled Greaves with the news, which he recorded, that Peadar O'Donnell's Mayo meeting had '..only 40 present.. bishops, priests and the Catholic quality (with General Costello prominent)... the ordinary people have grown quite cynical over these schemes... Viney, who tried to work with him, was asked to forward a list of republicans and the impression was given that Peadar would try to secure their election to the "Defence of the West" committees. Instead, Peadar blackballed them..'.
I remember this episode well; in retrospect Peadar could perhaps be forgiven for being suspicious of republican credentials, given their elitist and stunt-oriented political culture, but the Mayo people concerned had actually successfully made the transition into good democratic procedures via the experience of the co-operative movement, and he was blackballing people who might actually have given Defence of the West an edge, and made it work. The generation gap between Peadar and the post-50s republican politicisers was alas too wide.
Greaves on December 10 1965: '..Roy says that there is no truth in the six-county rumour that a further disturbance is to be expected. He says "if the IRA didn't exist, the six-county government would have to invent it".'
These rumours originated with the RUC; they apparently were taken seriously by the British Government, according to a recent (2001) book by Peter Rose(40), which exposes the British attitude to Northern Ireland as being one of total incomprehension, blindness, not wanting to know, and when forced into a need to know, dependence on faulty sources. He points out that in 1966 the British government thought they were facing a threat of a new IRA insurrection, related to the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Their source was the RUC; there were alleged to be 3000 IRA volunteers involved. This was of course a complete fabrication; the 'IRA' at this time was actively engaged, with perhaps 200 activists, in becoming political within the previously empty shell of Sinn Fein. The British had no separate intelligence that was in a position to tell them this; they decided not to set one up, but to continue to depend on the RUC for their intelligence. The motivation of the RUC and the Unionist establishment for promoting this deception was of course to keep in existence the excuse for their repressive regime, supporting the privileged position of the Unionist elite.
1966 and the Commemoration of the Easter RisingA letter dated January 1 1966 went out, signed by Noel Kavanagh and Claire Gill, joint secretaries of the Economic Independence Committee of the Wolfe Tone Society, as from the present writer's address 22 Belgrave Road; it was sent to various people asking them to lobby the Dail on Tuesday January 14 on the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement, meeting in Buswell's Hotel for this purpose. Briefing material on the Agreement was enclosed. Politically this served to educate Sinn Fein activists, who had hitherto disdained having anything to do with the Dail, into the art of lobbying the de facto decision-making body. Politically it also can be regarded as a rearguard action in support of the remaining shreds of the de Valera protectionist policy, on the basis of which some industrial development had taken place. I recollect the 1916 veteran Joe Clarke participating.
Shortly after this there was the episode of the 'Captured Document'(41); this was picked up in January 1966 in the possession of Sean Garland, who had attended an Army Council meeting which had begun to address some problems of the politicisation process. It is accessible in the Department of Justice archive.
Motions 60 to 66 of the November 1965 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis had related to the United Irishman; I don't have the record of what was done with them, but they reflected unease on the part of the traditionalists about the United Irishman content, and called for tighter Sinn Fein editorial control. In fact the UI was regarded as 'army' property, and Goulding defended its role as a key agent of political change.
The 'captured document' consisted of a political plan which had some degree of credibility, a military plan of highly questionable credibility (put in presumably as lip service to the tradition, to keep hardliners like Sean Mac Stiofain and Ruairi O Bradaigh onside for the present), a document analysing critically the feedback from the 1965 Extraordinary Ard Fheis, and handwritten notes on the recent 'Army Council' meeting.
The Goulding political plan contained a declaration of intent to 'assume an organisational form that (would) attract back people of national outlook in the trade union movement so that their efforts can be co-ordinated'. Sinn Fein had failed to do anything like this, and the role of the 'army' people in this context was seen as to initiate the education and rejuvenation of Sinn Fein. This would involve reform of the structure of the Movement.
There was however strong residual attachment to the idea of supportive military-type action in guerrilla mode, given the existence of politically-initiated actions involving large numbers of people.
It is possible to see the positive role envisaged for the present writer, but also the pathological persistence of the military mind-set, with which Goulding presumably wished to keep Mac Stiofain and O Bradaigh onside, while playing down its significance in order to keep the present writer also onside, a basically unstable and contradictory position.
In a major section headed 'Organisational Principles' it was proclaimed that the basic movement should be '...a political national and social-revolutionary organisation with an open membership and a legal existence... recruitment to be to this alone..'. The basic unit is the local or factory Cumann. Within each Cumann would be specialist groups looking to influence broader peoples' organisations, '...a training ground for revolutionary government; the transition from the gun to politics in the past has omitted this training procedure and has therefore resulted in the Fianna Fail and Clann na Poblachta processes setting in...'. Specialist groups should have the right to involve non-members in their activity.
The following two key paragraphs enshrine what the present writer was prepared to accept as the beginnings of Goulding transition programme for getting rid of the 'army' as such and going totally political. Mac Stiofain and O Bradaigh would undoubtedly have been opposed to this, and I interpret the latter half of the second paragraph as a sop to them.
"H. The Army has its own organisational structure and (is) to function within the revolutionary organisation as backbone. Army recruits to be chosen from the best and most conscious members of the organisation. Under no circumstances should the Army recruit from outside on the basis of the emotional appeal of arms. The Army to give leadership within the organisation by the fact of its being composed of the most advanced elements within it, rather than by weight of numbers.
"I. The Army Convention to continue as a policy-making body, but this role to be played down in proportion as the basic policy decisions are seen to be made correctly, openly and in unity by the National Conference. The current position that the Ard Fheis is a rubber-stamp for the Convention is an imposition on the many good people in SF. The role of the Army Convention should evolve towards that of a specialist conference of certain people in the Movement for examining technical problems connected with the military aspect of the revolution. The Army Council will continually review this position."
The document went on to suggest that the Movement in its new mode should encourage affiliations of friendly organisations having objectives that did not conflict, the germ of the 'national liberation movement' idea.
The foregoing leap of imagination was somewhat visionary, with its implied repeat of the 1918-21 model, and with echoes of the Bolsheviks in 1917. They clearly regarded the taking of seats in existing Partition institutions as anathema, and had not envisioned any creative national role for 'cross-border bodies' as have emerged in the Good Friday Agreement. It could be argued that the Provisionals with their current policies have gone much further than Goulding was prepared to go in this document. The present writer at the time, working in political mode, was however alive to the potential of 'cross-border bodies', as expressed in the motion which I attempted to introduce at the 1965 Irish Association conference in Derry(6).
The 'Military Plan' I put in quotes because its purpose in this context was presumably to keep the militarists busy while not doing too much harm, while the politicisers got on with the job. It was totally unrelated to the political plan as outlined above, in which the present writer had a role. It was however close to a blueprint for the way the Provisionals developed in the North under Mac Stiofain's leadership. There was explicit reference to Cyprus and to the conscious use of terror tactics and assassination. It is not unreasonable to attribute this document to Mac Stiofain as an early draft of the Provisional plan for a northern campaign.
It continued with a 'Report on the Special Ard Fheis' which expanded on the perceived roles of the Wolfe Tone Societies as they had evolved from the 'Directories', and on the 'Joint Republican Education Centre' concept, which however never existed as a 'Centre' but did exist marginally in the form of a loose interaction between Sean O Bradaigh in the then Sinn Fein context, the present writer acting for the 'Goulding Plan' and Anthony Coughlan acting for the Wolfe Tone Society. It never assumed a cohesive existence however. The use of the word 'Joint' in the title was Goulding's attempt to invoke his political plan in the SF context. The then SF mostly traditionalist leadership, being basically crypto- or quasi-Fianna Fail, was suspicious of it, fearing leftward political development.
Several agitations were noted, including actions relating to housing in Dublin, the Castlecomer mines, and the Dundalk Engineering Works, and it was noted that these had been on the initiative of 'army' activists, and that Sinn Fein had stood aside or not wanted to know. This was the measure of the extent of the political education problem if an effective integrated movement were to be developed along the lines suggested by the Goulding Plan.
Note that the underlying political philosophy seemed to be based on the idea that people in trouble should seek support from the shadowy 'Republic as virtually established', perceived as a sort of Robin Hood State. This did not encourage the development of the autonomy of the peoples' own organisations. I was aware of this at the time, and conscious of the need to change these perceptions via the educational programme.
There was recorded in the associated notes an interesting remark by Goulding: '...intelligence report on NATO Free State Army officers briefing (which) revealed Americans worried about republican influence on TU movement, reckoned 500 dissidents in Ireland easily dealt with..'.
This suggests US paranoia about a repeat in Ireland of the Cuban model; it also indicates, what we always suspected, covert relations between the Free State Army and NATO. We were of course a very long way from a Cuban situation, but the US paranoia appears to have spread to the Fianna Fail leadership, and to have influenced how they gave priority subsequently in 1969 to the undermining of political republicanism in the Civil Rights context, rather than to exposing the British Government and focusing international pressure on the need to disarm the B-Specials. Also Goulding must have had a 'mole' in the Free State Army officer-elite.
The Wolfe Tone Society met on February 1; the Kenneth Armour lecture was fixed for Feb 8 in Wynne's Hotel; an attempt was made to invite prominent Protestants (Tony Farrington, Muriel Gahan, Douglas Gageby were mentioned). Plans for the 1916 symposium were taking shape: Asmal was to set the Irish struggle in the context of other 20th century freedom movements, Brian Farrington to speak on Yeats, George Gilmore on Labour.
In the February United Irishman we had Frank McGlade elected as Chair of the Northern Directory; 200 attended a meeting in Dungiven; the objective was to commemorate 1916 in the North. There was a report of an article by RJ on 'economics for trade unionists' based on a Sinn Fein educational conference; the key issue here was to replace the 'workers vs management' paradigm by 'workers + management vs owners'. Joe McGrane of the WUI and Kader Asmal also spoke at the event. It seems also I was critical of the 'parity with sterling' principle, and called for an all-Ireland economic model for use in policy planning. George Gilmore in his series defended himself against right-wing attacks by one Seamus Ceitinn.
On February 17 1966 Greaves in his diary recorded that Cathal Goulding had been jailed for possession of a gun: '...they are like children playing soldiers..'. This episode, which was quite indefensible, resulted in Goulding's loss of the leading position for a time.
At the WTS on February 22 the Armour lecture was noted as having been good; this was a nod in the direction of the Presbyterian Home Rule tradition. My recollection of it however is that it was poorly attended, having lacked good pre-publicity, due to the uncertainty regarding date and location. In the March United Irishman there was a 'Free Trade Catechism' which was basically a WTS critique of the Free Trade Agreement. There was an IRA statement attacking Stormont for manufacturing phony incidents. The April 1966 issue was special; it was the 'golden jubilee' of 1916; the GPO was on the front page; it contained a page and a half by the present writer entitled '1916 and its Aftermath'. In this I outlined neo-colonialism, and mentioned approvingly Conor Cruise O'Brien's role in the Congo. I called for intellectual support for the development of the 'half-baked ideas which constitute this article'. Why were we not like Norway? Partition was the obstacle; emigration of all the best brains. Gilmore also wrote on the Labour Movement and the Rising.
There is on record a printed card with the Wolfe Tone Society 1916 Lecture series in Jury's Hotel: May 9, Brian Farrington on the Literary Revival and the 1916 Rising; May 10, Cian O h-Eigeartaigh on 'an Teanga agus 1916'; May 11, Kader Asmal on 1916 and 20th century freedom movements; May 12, Jack Bennett on Connolly, Ulster and 1916; May 13, George Gilmore on Labour and 1916. Of these the first and last were subsequently published as pamphlets.
Greaves in his diary recorded that he had lunch with the present writer on May 16: '...both he and Cathal (Mac Liam) stress the great success of the Wolfe Tone Society lectures... disclosure of a great republican "blueprint for revolution" in Saturday's Independent. Micheal O Riordain says "obviously RHJ's composition". RHJ says "a composite document lifted from RHJ's reports"...'. He goes on to give an assessment of Tony Meade the UI editor '...a somewhat intense young man... very serious in the dedication to his cause... a slightly cynical sense of humour... I would say that his outlook is entirely bounded by bourgeois (visions?), though he can ask Cathal "what is the Marxist line on that?" as if it was only to be brought out of the right pillbox..'.
In May 1966 in the UI there was a report of the mass rally in Casement Park, Belfast, addressed by Malachi McBirney and Seamus Costello. Denis Foley analysed the NI elections, as a 'rout'; a good argument but a bad vote, abstention being the implied problem. There was an article on Glencolumcille; the WTS Free Trade Catechism continued, as did Gilmore on Labour and the Rising. A Fishing Rights body was founded in Galway; this was the National Waters Restoration League; the key issue was seen as inshore fishing for salmon.
Given that we were still stuck with the abstentionist policy, we had been trying to find a credible progressive non-abstentionist candidate for Mid-Ulster; I have on record a letter dated June 27 1966 addressed to me from Alec Foster, of the Belfast WTS, who was Conor Cruise O'Brien's then father-in-law, indicating inability to get a response from Conor. This indicates that at the time we were trying to contact him to explore political options, given that the aura of his progressive role in the Congo still hung about him. I later shared a platform with him at Murlough, commemorating Casement.
Greaves recorded on July 16 1966 an encounter of Cathal MacLiam with the United Irishman editorial committee, which happened to be in session when he called at the Sinn Fein office in Gardiner Place. Tony Meade, Sean Garland, Tom Mitchell, Cathal Goulding and Denis Foley were there, discussing whether to print a reply by Tom Mitchell to the present writer's famous 'rosary' letter)(42), to which Mac Stiofain had taken exception. It seems they got quite heated. CDG's comment: '...Roy should of course never have raised the question which is entirely speculative since there is no sign of any Protestant drift towards republicanism..'.
Nor indeed will there be, as long as they feel they have to dress up political commemorations in religious garb. This is a 'chicken and egg' problem. Protestants must be made feel welcome in a united Ireland. I am quite unrepentant about this, and regard Greaves's remark as pussyfooting.
Meanwhile Tuairisc, the Wolfe Tone newsletter edited by Anthony Coughlan, had been making friendly overtures to Labour. I have on record a letter dated 14/07/66 from Proinsias de Rossa, then a Sinn Fein activist, relating to Tuairisc promotion, offering names. He was however critical at the way Tuairisc seemed to be sniping at Sinn Fein and preferring the Labour Party: '...Sinn Fein has a ready-made national attitude and with encouragement and additional capable personnel could become a strong force within a short period. The negative attitude towards Sinn Fein will have to be dropped...'.
On July 23 Greaves recorded in his diary some pub talk with Des Logan, Tadhg Egan (both Connolly Association activists) and Tony Meade, joined later by Tony Ruane (then a Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle member; he subsequently supported the Provisionals). The latter's Sinn Fein vision currently was to '..go in when they have an overall majority..' to which CDG replied '..you ask the public to buy a pig in a poke, and they won't...'. Tony Meade it seems had been promoting the idea of the Wolfe Tone Society replacing Sinn Fein as the 'political wing'. CMacL it seems had achieved some sort of level of approval or recognition by the republicans, though a member of the Irish Workers Party. CDG wondered how this would stand up if the WTS became a political party in its own right.
Then on July 24 1966 Greaves picked up from Des Logan the latest news of the 'G episode', which involved a threat by one G that Richard Behal intended to put a hand-grenade through RJ's front window. This incensed Mairin, who put her brothers on to complain to Cathal Goulding; the latter established with Behal that this threat was without foundation. CG then went to Micheal O'Riordain and demanded that G be disciplined (it seems he was a 'member' of the IWP). Mairin's brothers also, it seems, took suitable action themselves.
This G it seems was doing his best to sow confusion and dissension among those concerned with the republican politicisation process. He was almost certainly acting for the Special Branch, of which the policy, like that of their colleagues in Britain, was to keep the left weak and divided, and the republicans engaged in military futilities, to the advantage of the ruling establishment. Any trend towards a broad-based republican left, with realisable political objectives, had to be nipped in the bud.
At the July 26 1966 Wolfe Tone meeting it was agreed that Alec Foster should chair the meeting in Kevin Agnew's house in Maghera; the main topic would be 'civil rights and discrimination' and 'trade unions and unity'; Tuairisc had been sent out. Ethna Viney (MacManus) raised the question of Nitrigin Eireann: the refusal of a seat on the Board to an NFA representative, and threatened US take-over; EV was to work with Derry Kelleher on this. A Symposium on PR projected for September; the suggestion came from Michael Dore who had been Ethna's employer and who felt strongly about the issue, as a citizen.
Thus was organised by the WTS the Maghera meeting at which the War Memorial Hall meeting was planned; it was one of many things the WTS was doing at the time.
The July 1966 issue of the UI reported the Bodenstown commemoration, including the strength of the martial air and the presence of wolfhounds. A 'TU' banner was carried by Sceim na gCeardcumann. The Belfast Trades Council was said to have participated (this might have been based on the personal participation of Betty Sinclair). The oration was given by Seamus Costello. There was a report of the Kader Asmal lecture on 20th century freedom movement, being part of the WTS public lecture series. The August 1966 issue continued with Asmal, covered the Belfast 12th of July events, noted the takeover threat of Nitrigin Eireann, and took an interest in Richard Nixon. In September Fr MacDyer thanked Clann na hEireann for their vacation help.
At the August 23 WTS meeting 11 were present; there was contact with Paul Gillespie (of the student Labour group); Eoghan Harris resigned; the Dore letter re PR was considered; RJ was to contact Dusty Miller (a progressive-minded engineer, whom we have previously met, who had been a joint author with Patrick Lynch of the 1964 OECD Report 'Science and Irish Economic Development') re Nitrigin; RJ proposed the formal setting up of a 'planning committee' to project future activities more systematically. RJ and S Mac Gabhainn reported on the Maghera meeting, at which a Civil Rights Convention was projected to which various Northern organisations should be invited. This was the seminal meeting mentioned above, at which the War Memorial Hall NICRA-founding event was planned.
Daithi O Bruadair reported that some 300 people had been at Murlough commemorating Roger Casement. This was a meeting at which I spoke, and was introduced by Eoin (the 'Pope') O'Mahony as my father's son, with my father having been the author of the 1913 book 'Civil War in Ulster'. The 'Pope' knew this, although I had not briefed him; at the time I had forgotten this aspect of my father's background. Conor Cruise O'Brien also spoke; at this time he was seriously considered in the context of Mid-Ulster, as a possible candidate by the republicans.
The September 13 1966 WTS meeting had 17 present, including Cathal Goulding and Seamus Costello; also present were Maire Comerford, Derry Kelleher, Anthony Coughlan, Aine Ni Shuilleabhain (subsequently Ann Harris, Eoghan's wife), Ethna Viney. Proinnsias de Rossa was proposed for membership; Desmond Fennell was to be seen by a sub-committee. The Planning Committee report was discussed; people were allocated as conveners of sub-committees to come up with ideas for events targeting special areas.
A copy of this report is on record; it noted that the membership of the Society was approaching 40, and that the possibility existed of setting up working groups with conveners. The following groups and conveners were suggested:
Language: Micheal O Loinsigh; Literature and Drama: Noel Kavanagh; Music, dancing etc: Mary Cannon; Education and student groups: Daithi O Bruadair. The foregoing constituted a 'cultural' group of groups. A 'socio-economic' group of groups was also projected: urbanism, housing, local government: Proinnsias de Rossa; science and technology: Derry Kelleher; health and social services: Anthony Coughlan (this however was queried); national economics: Ethna Viney; Co-operative movement: Seamus Mac Gabhainn; Trade Union Movement: Terry Conneally; historical research: Cathal MacLiam. This completes the list as on the 'planning committee' report, but there was added in pen: civil rights - Tony Coughlan.
Some comment is appropriate: this reflects how the present writer, although aware of the Maghera meeting and its significance, had not identified it as the key issue, leading to the weakest points of the Unionist establishment. Anthony Coughlan, to give him credit, did this, and insisted on the twelfth topic, undertaking to develop it. My own vision was to try to develop a rich mixture of intellectual fuel for a broad-based national movement, which I had hoped the politicised republican movement would become. In this grandiose concept however, in the 'planning committee' report, I had missed out on the key issue which AC saw.
The projected mode of operation of the 'planning committee' was to meet between aggregate meetings, with all conveners invited, but urged not to come unless they had a concrete proposal. AC has a marginal comment: 'too many groups? strength dissipated?' I think he could well have been right, though in retrospect I think this approach was in principle worth trying out; it would have selected those who were prepared to work creatively.
On September 27 1966 some of the conveners reported, Micheal O Loinsigh on language mentioned the 'Language Freedom Movement' meeting in the Mansion House; a 'silent protest' was projected. The indications were that few had yet convened. Anthony Coughlan came up with a proposal for an alternative to Edgar Deale's Irish Association for Civil Liberty group. AC was to go to Belfast to evaluate progress towards the projected Civil Rights meeting planned at Maghera.
The WTS 'planning committee' met subsequently in 22 Belgrave Road on October 5. MOL came up with a projected paper by Fr Colman O h-Uallachain. It was noted that the coming Maghera Convention, with which AC was concerned, was aimed at the Republican Clubs, to persuade them that Civil Rights was the key issue; it involved a reading of a key issue of Tuairisc, no 7, which contained an explanation of a Civil Rights strategy for undermining Unionism, written by AC. But note the conflict of date; the WTS annual report in January 1967 (see Part 2) gives August as the date of this meeting. My recollection, and that of Anthony Coughlan, are in agreement that there were 2 distinct Maghera meetings, the second of which in October was a Convention involving the Republican Clubs, while the first in August was strictly WTS and initiated the planning for the War memorial Hall event.
Greaves was staying in the present writer's place on October 15 1966; he recorded that I turned up the next morning unshaven and jaded. This was the occasion of the 1966 Army Convention. CDG noted that I was '..inclined to inveigh against the romanticism of this exercise. He said that there was talk of entering the Dail... Tom Mitchell and Tony Meade were not opposed... as the voting repeatedly revealed. They had sent AC to Belfast ... to revive the Wolfe Tone Society there, which means he can't be at the Labour Party conference....'.
This relates to supporting the Belfast WTS in its planning of the War Memorial Hall meeting. While the leading lights were journalist Jack Bennett, Queens lecturer Michael Dolley, school principal Alec Foster and others, there were however no links with the Queens student movement. AC would have gone on behalf of the Dublin WTS.
This is also useful in that it enables the 1966 Army Convention to be dated exactly. The November United Irishman contains echoes of it. I remember feeling at the time that this was no way to be making serious political decisions, in an all-night session, without documentation. I was elected to the Executive, where there was a clear majority of politicisers. I declined to go forward for the Council, which consisted of Goulding, Garland, Costello, O Bradaigh, Mac Stiofain, and 2 others, who could have been Mitchell, Meade, or perhaps Mac Giolla, I am not certain of this. The sending of AC to Belfast was of course a Dublin WTS decision; Greaves noted it ambiguously.
In the same entry CDG went on to note the funeral of Walter Dwyer, who was a Mayo plumber with a background in the US-based 'International Workers of the World' (IWW, the 'Wobblies'), and a founder member of the Irish Workers League. Seamus O Mongain the Mayo republican and co-operative activist, and Micheal O Riordain the Irish Workers League leader, both spoke, as well as the local priest. All the foregoing would suggest that Greaves accepted the existence of a 'left-republican convergence' process, and regarded it positively.
At the October 18 1966 WTS planning committee it was noted that some money had come in for an article in Business and Finance on Nitrigin Eireann (this was a joint effort from Derry Kelleher and the present writer). Maire Comerford reported that funds were coming in for the campaign to renovate the Tailors Hall. The projected Dublin meeting with Mrs McCluskey on 'Democracy in Ulster' was planned in the context of a series including Enid Lakeman (the British Electoral Reform Society leader) in support of the retention of PR in the Republic, in face of the Government's attempt to abolish it; also 'Language and Democracy in Ireland'. Anthony Coughlan reported on the Belfast WTS meeting; all was in order for the War Memorial Hall meeting on November 28 or Dec 1; Ciaran Mac an Aili and Kader Asmal were to speak.
Present at the above meeting as well as RJ and AC were Maire Comerford, Derry Kelleher, Micheal O Loinsigh, Tony Meade, John Tozer. It was minuted that '...WTS people entitled to attend Regional Conferences of republican movement..'. This could not have been a WTS decision; could it perhaps have been an 'army' decision conveyed by Meade? The latter, according to Greaves, was at about this time promoting the idea that the WTS network should expand politically to supersede Sinn Fein as the Republican 'political wing', unencumbered by SF negative baggage. There was also a proposal to set up a WTS in Tralee, which would have been an echo of the 'Meade plan'.
Around this time I received a letter from one John Mitchell of Perry's Ale, Rathdowney, outlining the basis for the closure of the brewery; I remember looking in around then, as my uncle Jack Young used to buy the barley. Staff were transferred to Kilkenny. A local committee was set up. This was the last of the old 'real ales', and unfortunately it died before the new-wave 'real ale' movement caught on. I would have made contact in the 'economic resistance' context.
The October 1966 issue of the UI reported Mac Stiofain in Belfast, speaking in the Milltown cemetery. Labour Party Secretary Brendan Halligan lectured on Connolly, in the WTS series; this was a Labour-Left link; Mac Tomáis spoke on Casement.
In the November issue the farmers' protest continued. There was more from Brendan Halligan in the WTS series. Goulding was reported at the Sean Tracy commemoration at Feakle. There was a Tuairisc reprint on Unionism and Paisley. Tony Meade responded to the 'discovery' of the IRA by Hibernia. There were references to Wesley Boyd and Michael Viney. Meade however claimed not to be relinquishing the use of force.
The present writer's interpretation of the above, and similar references, at this time was that they were sops to the traditionalists, to keep them on side during the politicisation process.
On November 14 1966 Greaves recorded an invitation from Micheal O Riordain to address an educational conference in Dublin the following February. There is some uncertainty about the date. He then went on: '...last Thursday Sean Redmond was at the (British National Council for) Civil Liberties (to which the CA was affiliated, SR being their representative) and who should arrive but McCartney the London-based NCCL activist. He was expressing fears that some villains from Dublin were starting a Civil Liberties which was not (affiliated with) the British one, and SR was speculating as to who it was. I told him that I had tried to put the Dublin republicans up to setting up an independent one and had tackled C(athal) G(oulding) about it. Tonight I rang JB to get Fitt's address: "...we've a key Civil Liberties meeting coming off. Of course a certain view wants it to be a branch of London, and we have to be careful about the link with Dublin if we want the Trade Unions. So we'll have a separate six-county one." So that was good...'.
This is a further reference to the seminal War Memorial Hall meeting from which the NICRA arose. It had come about, as already noted above in the WTS context, on the initiative of the Dublin WTS, via the Belfast WTS. Prior work had been done on the republican network at the two Maghera meetings in Kevin Agnew's house, the latter being a leading Northern Sinn Fein supporter, who had earlier served as Tom Mitchell's election agent in the Mid-Ulster constituency, when during the 1950s he had won the seat. The first Maghera meeting was to plan the November Belfast Civil Rights seminar with the aid of the Belfast WTS, and the second was to persuade the republican grassroots to support it, while keeping their heads down. The second of these meetings was the one referred to by Tim Pat Coogan as having involved Eoghan Harris. The role of the latter, who at the time was a somewhat uncommitted fringe member of the Dublin WTS, was simply to read the Coughlan script, Anthony Coughlan being in Cork that day because of his father's death. The present writer, who should ideally have read it being the Dublin WTS representative, was inhibited by his stammer.
Speakers at the War Memorial Hall meeting from Dublin included Kader Asmal, the leader of the Irish anti-apartheid movement, and Ciaran Mac an Aili, who was explicitly a supporter of non-violence, and had played an earlier Civil Rights role in the republican interest. So it seems CDG was aware of the War Memorial Hall meeting and was supportive of the initiative, which must be credited to Anthony Coughlan, who produced the seminal Tuairisc paper for the Dublin WTS, as read by Eoghan Harris on my behalf at Maghera.
On November 15 a general WTS meeting was addressed by Fr Colman O h-Uallachain on language learning techniques; John Tozer's minutes summarise what he said. From this emerged a campaign for text-books in Irish for schools, a neglected area. There was a vote of sympathy with the widow of founding member Lorcan Leonard. A Meeting in Ballina on Sunday to discuss small-farmer co-ops was announced.
On November 18 the WTS public symposium on 'Bunreacht na hEireann and Irish Democracy' took place in Jury's Hotel; a resolution was passed supporting the retention of PR. It urged revision on the Constitution in matters relating to birth control and divorce, recognising these issues as being obstacles to national unity. It urged that the European Convention on Human Rights be embodied in law. The text of the resolution is on record.
At the December 6 general meeting UMacE reported on the Cork WTS meeting in the Munster Hotel. Some 60 people had been present; speakers were Cork WTS activist Uinsean O Murchu and Anthony Coughlan. The Belfast meeting had taken place in the British Legion War Memorial Hall; some 70 were present; John D Stewart, a veteran Protestant journalist, was in the chair; McNally and Asmal were the main speakers; an ad-hoc group was set up, not the WTS itself. The planning of the WTS AGM was referred to committee; projected topics include the alternative to the Common Market, the Casement Diaries, regional planning and the Gaeltacht, science and technology, labour and republicanism.
At the December 20 planning committee the WTS AGM was scheduled for January 21; the Common Market and Casement were to get priority. A letter(43) to prospective members was sent out, signed by Anraoi de Faoite (Harry White) as Chairman, on behalf of the planning committee.
The 1966 Ard Fheis (Moran's Hotel 2)I certainly remember this one in Moran's; there were two in successive years, with the present writer not attending the first one in 1965, though I had looked in on the Bricklayers Hall one in 1964. Goulding discouraged me from going into Sinn Fein before a credible support network had been built up there among the 'army' politicisers.
At the Ard Comhairle on 5/11/66 there were preparations for the Ard Fheis in Moran's Hotel; The American historian Bowyer Bell(44) was given permission to see records.
The 1966 AF records are relatively complete. There was a Secretaries Report, signed by Mairin de Burca and Ualteir O Loinsigh (Wally Lynch) which stated that the AC had met 17 times; Sean O Bradaigh was in charge of publicity; Richard Behal had been dismissed for unauthorised actions over Easter. It had been decided to context five seats in the Westminster elections. The candidates were Tom Mitchell in Mid-Ulster, Rory Brady in Fermanagh / South Tyrone, Neill Gillespie in Derry, George Mussen in South Down and Charlie McGlennan in Armagh. It had been difficult to rally the support of the movement behind the campaign. The results showed drops compared to 1964 in Derry, South Down and Fermanagh / South Tyrone, and increases in Armagh and mid-Ulster; in the latter they nearly won the seat.
I recollect that the feedback from the Republican Clubs was that if abstention had been abandoned they would have won easily, and the poor turnout was due to abstentionism being in discredit. This 'near miss' came back to haunt them subsequently when Bernadette Devlin won the seat.
The secretaries' report went on to record the poor attendance at a meeting of existing SF local government representatives, and to express dissatisfaction at the level of coverage of SF affairs by the United Irishman. It was noted that the 'joint educational centre' had been set up, but that it had fallen through for lack of support.
During this period the writer was being introduced by Cathal Goulding to various O/Cs throughout the country, and some sort of network was established for political education, with encouragement to actually join and participate in SF activity. The United Irishman and its rapidly expanding circulation became the key factor in this process. Local seminars were organised, but the 'joint educational centre' concept had never been high on the agenda, its practical value being questionable.
Mick Ryan recollects that at this time he was appointed O/C of Dublin, with the objective of activating the IRA politically via Sinn Fein, and installing a more politically aware and effective Dublin SF leadership.
The Report noted the continuing harassment of the head office by the Special Branch, and interference with the post. It was also recorded that they had protested against Irish people being recruited to the US army to fight in Vietnam. They had attempted to get the Hierarchy to support this position. The US ambassador replied to the effect that the Irish in the US were treated like everyone else. The Hierarchy had not acknowledged their letter.
A drive to bring back the remains of Dunne and O'Sullivan, Barnes and McCormack, and Daly had been initiated, and a committee set up for this purpose(45).
The Secretaries' Report has a complete list of all people who attended the 1966 Ard Fheis, typed out, with cumann name and location. The present writer's name is added on in pen, as representing Cumann Piarsaigh.
This indicates that by the end of 1966 the present writer was just about beginning to be accepted in the SF context, somewhat grudgingly. Despite this, the incoming Ard Comhairle included the present writer. This is an indication of the role of the 'army' vote in the SF Ard Fheis. One would not normally expect to get elected to the national executive at one's first National Convention. There had been an 'Army Convention' shortly before this, the effect of which would have been to reinforce the process of integration of the movement, and this certainly showed after the 1966 Ard Fheis.
Motions passed included a call for an updated reprint of the Constitution, ratification of more of the 1965 Special Ard Fheis 'civil society' procedures such as to encourage open activity, a call for the Ard Comhairle to shadow the Cabinet, and a detailed one from the Pearse Cumann, in which the present writer's hand can be detected. I give it in full, as it indicates the strength of the 'civil society' aspiration of the 'army' left-modernisers.
"That this Ard Fheis notes with concern (1) the continued deterioration of the housing conditions in Ireland; (2) the apparent ease with which demolition of sound property can be carried out for rebuilding in their own time by foreign speculators (3) the continued failure of the Corporation of Dublin to use its power to direct rebuilding to vacant central sites in depressed areas of the city; (4) the high rents paid by tenants of furnished rooms, their lack of security of tenure and the increasing dependence of working-class families on this type of accommodation. An Ard Fheis therefore calls upon the Corporation of Dublin to require that the demolitions be subject to planning permission and that vacant central sites be used for all types of development (housing, shops, offices, factories) immediately, using if necessary compulsory purchase. It calls on the Government in Dublin to legislate to give security of tenure to tenants of furnished rooms, with families subject to appeal to a tribunal. It calls on all Dublin Cumainn to agitate and organise the people to support demands along these lines.
Pearse Cumann, Dublin."
Motions were passed urging an organised approach to the coming local elections, with a raising of the public profile in selected provincial centres as well as in Dublin.
There were however many motions critical of the United Irishman from a 'sea-green incorruptible' traditionalist position. These would mostly have been referred to the incoming Ard Comhairle.
There was a report by Sean O Bradaigh as Director of Publicity, and he also had negative things to say about the UI, which had been critical of SF. He had issued 21 press statements during the year, on topic which included the Rhodesian crisis, the Free Trade Agreement, Ireland and Europe, the Royal visit to Belfast, labour legislation and the so-called 'Language Freedom Movement'. He had hoped to have the Social and Economic Programme ready, but this had got bogged down in statistics, and they had felt the need for expert advice.
Mick Ryan in his capacity as O/C of Dublin, by arrangement with the Irish-language writer Mairtin O Cadhain, had organised the disruption of the Language Freedom Movement meeting in the Mansion House. The LFM was an ephemeral anti-Irish Language lobby.
The Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle met on 26/11/66: as a result of the Moran's Hotel Ard Fheis, both the present writer and Cathal Goulding were members, along with Costello. Then on 11/12/66 the idea of a Coiste Seasta (CS) emerged, also the need for a revision of the Constitution. On 19/12/66 a meeting took place with the Central Council of Tenants Associations. Support was sought for their national campaign against the increase of rents in local authority houses.
Finally on 31/12/66 at the SF AC the Coiste Seasta (CS) was set up: TMacG, CG, SO'B, M de B, Tony Ruane, Sean Mac Stiofain, Seamus Costello and RJ. RJ was appointed Director of Education.
In subsequent records this CS seems to have been a somewhat fluid body, augmenting itself according to the needs of the occasion. In fact it became increasingly indistinguishable from Cathal Goulding's 'HQ Staff'. We take up the sequence of events in the next section.
Greaves had a long entry on December 8 1966, in the middle of which the following occurs: '...the Irish Times had a report that Fitt was speaking favourably of the EEC. I had a letter from Art McMillan and mentioned this in my reply. I also wrote to JB and suggested a campaign to lift the ban on the UI so the people on the Falls Road can see the case against entry...'. The background to this was Prime Minister Wilson's revival of Britain's application to join the EEC, which has hitherto been blocked by de Gaulle.
The next day Greaves continued: '...there was a letter from McCartney (a leading NCCL man) reporting on the Belfast meeting which complained that "too many republicans" were there, and what was as bad, Jack Bennett seemed to be running things. Some of them had objected to taking up civil liberties other than political ones. Tony Smythe disclosed that when the meeting was announced the NILP had rung NCCL to ask if they were running it. They replied in the negative. Now they want Tony Smythe (the NCCL secretary) to go over as quickly as he can. ...... One of McCartney's complaints was that "too many people from Dublin" were at the meeting - they were indeed McAnally who defended Smythe after he had been bitten by the police dog that took a snap at Dr Browne, and Kader Asmal whose father-in-law is on the same EC (ie Louise Asmal's father was on the NCCL EC with Smythe). But Sean Redmond had the response that there had been fierce battles on the Irish question for a long time past. We decided to urge JB to meet Smythe, and thus to spike McCartney's guns...'.
On December 31 1966 CDG recorded: '..AC.. told me about Cathal Goulding who requested space in the Democrat and then didn't want it. "Then" says Tony "they came to me and said Goulding wanted to write in the Democrat but didn't know what to write about. So he asked me if I'd write it for him." I said I had heard that that the republicans decided that no "message" should be sent to any paper but their own, and, pointing out that no question existed of a "message", expressed the view that they "muddled it up". "He always does" says Tony...'. This would suggest that politically Goulding was somewhat at sea without a compass, while apparently wanting to encourage the movement to evolve towards the left. I am surprised that CDG does not comment to this effect.
The United Irishman of December 1966 contained Mac Giolla's oration to the Ard Fheis, confirming non-participation in Leinster House. Cathal MacLiam defended the anti-apartheid movement. Sean Gault in Kildare wanted agitation not a lottery. This was a valid criticism of the way Comhar Linn had evolved. Noel Kavanagh wrote on cultural participation. This was a further WTS initiative. Meade wrote about Sean South, whom he knew personally. Another nod to keep the traditionalists on-side. Anthony Coughlan, who had attended the Social Studies Congress in Limerick, wrote on 'the Christian and the Social Services'.
According to Mick Ryan, in the 1966/7 period the Dublin IRA used regularly to steward the Housing Action marches. Also, Mick Ryan at about this time organised, in a Leitrim farmhouse, the first ever IRA training camp which had a political dimension. The present writer attended this, observing with detachment some war-gaming, but basically attempting to foster the primacy of the political role. I remember helping to upgrade the diet with dried apricots, and sleeping somewhat uncomfortably on the floor. To convey ideas to activists effectively it is necessary to share their hardships.
According to Mick Ryan, in the 1966/7 period the Dublin IRA used regularly to steward the Housing Action marches. Also, Mick Ryan at about this time organised, in a Leitrim farmhouse, the first ever IRA training camp which had a political dimension. The present writer attended this, observing with detachment some war-gaming, but basically attempting to foster the primacy of the political role. I remember helping to upgrade the diet with dried apricots, and sleeping somewhat uncomfortably on the floor. To convey ideas to activists effectively it is necessary to share their hardships.
Notes and References1. The sequence of steps in the decline of the Agriculture School can be followed in my abstracts from the TCD Board minutes in the hypertext.
2. After his Consumer Demand rebuff (see note 5 below) JJ lost interest in the SSISI, but he did attend, on April 3 1967, to comment on the paper by EA Attwood, on the comparative development of agriculture, north and south (Vol XXI, part V, p9). JJ had played a somewhat nominal role as Attwood's supervisor for his PhD. His last contribution was on January 26 1968, when he spoke to JJ Scully's paper on Pilot Area development (Vol XXI Part VI, p51). In the 1960s module of the SSISI thread in the hypertext my own and JJ's contributions are about equal in volume.
3. I have over-viewed in the 1960s Barrington module JJ's last three attempts at economic commentaries oriented towards a lay readership. These were his Why Ireland Needs the Common Market (Mercier Press 1962), an article published in the Irish Press on April 20 1966 entitled The Relevance of a Berkeleyan Theory of Credit to the problems of Today, and his pamphlet Irish Economic Headaches: a Diagnosis (Aisti Eireannacha 1966).
4. In the 1960s academic module I review JJ's Hermathena publication Monetary Manipulation: Berkeleyan and Otherwise (CX p32, 1970). He wrote this in 1964 but it did not get published until 1970. He included it as a chapter in his unpublished monograph Consumer Demand as a Basis for Credit. I also comment on the work of Salim Rachid in Illinois; I am indebted to Collison Black, late of Queen University Belfast, and who served with my father on the Council of the SSISI in the 50s, for drawing this to my attention. In a Manchester School paper (Vol LVI no 4, December 1988) Rachid mentions JJ's Berkeley work in support of his thesis regarding the existence of an 'Irish School of Economic Development 1720-1750', which included Berkeley, Molyneux, Swift, Dobbs and Prior, and was closely linked to applied-scientific development activity via the Dublin Society. I suggest that there is perhaps some raw material here for exploitation by scholars interested in the historical roots of development economics. I would go further and suggest that, in the composition of this group, with the strong scientific component as expressed in Dobbs and Prior, we have a good model which in current development economic thinking is lacking and needs to be recaptured. The key to economic development is technical competence in the useful arts, and this was the Dublin Society's prime objective.
5. JJ submitted his Consumer Demand as the Basis of Credit to the SSISI and it was rejected as being too 'philosophical', the trend being towards econometrics. I have reproduced it in full, and it is accessible from the 1960s SSISI module in the hypertext.
6. The Irish Association was potentially an overlap area between my father's and my own interests, but this overlap never took place directly. For the background see the 1960s Irish Association module in the hypertext. He produced a paper for the Irish Association Council to consider, in confidence, an outline plan for 1963-64. This is worth reproducing in the hypertext, as it foreshadows they type of developments which might have emerged out of the Lemass-O'Neill meeting, had the politics of that event been allowed to develop without forcing the pace. It also foreshadows what has come out of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998. An additional key specific event was the June 1965 Derry meeting, planned to celebrate the founding of the New University of Ulster, focused, it was hoped, in Magee College in Derry. In the event it went to Coleraine. I attended the meeting; JJ had registered for it, but did not in the end attend.
7. We have encountered MacManus in the context of the Thomas Davis Society in TCD in 1920. In 1965, in his retirement, he gave a paper to the Harrogate Literary Society on The Irish Literary Revival 1890-1935. JJ sent a copy to TR Henn in Cambridge, who was then involved in the start-up of the Yeats Summer School. Henn replied encouragingly, and there is a possibility he helped to get it published, but I don't know if this was successful. The paper has much anecdotal material about key figures, and in the form it exists in JJ's papers I am making it available, along with another MacManus paper on the poet Raftery and his association with the MacManus estate at Killeaden Co Mayo, in the hypertext support material of this work.
9. This issue has arisen repeatedly over the decades, but I can find no specific text related to it. Nomination to State Boards by the Minister is so much the norm that no-one questions it. The related organisations having access to specialist knowledge seldom if ever get 'nomination from below' rights, though a sensitive Minister might consult with them.
12. The London political period sources include, apart from my own papers, the Irish Democrat files and the Greaves journals, from which an abstract primarily relating to Civil Rights and the North is accessible; see Note 13.
13. Greaves Journal, Volume 14. I have abstracted a selection of Greaves material relating to Civil Rights in Northern Ireland, and this is available in the hypertext. Anthony Coughlan who owns the copyright has agreed to waive rights provided he is satisfied that the abstracted material is accurate.
14.Jim Fitzgerald had been in the 1940s on the fringe of the Promethean Society; he had become a talented theatrical director, and at the time was Head of Drama in the then new Radio Teilifis Eireann (RTE). He had been renting our house in our absence.
17. Why Ireland Needs the Common Market, Mercier Press, Cork, 1962. I have abstracted the chapters of this book in the hypertext, and given one chapter in full, where JJ outlines his pilot experience with market-gardening on the fringe of a small farm. This work relates to the Barrington-type outreach thread of the hypertext.
18. JJ still clung to his model of agricultural development as expressed in his 1942 SSISI paper. He continued to promote the TCD Kells Ingram farm as a centre for innovative agricultural research, and he attempted through his Irish Association contacts to give it an all-Ireland dimension.
19. Some commentaries on the Agricultural Institute as it had developed in the 1970s are accessible in the hypertext, where I have reproduced an edited version of my 1970-76 Irish Times Science and technology Column, under the title In Search of Techne..
22. Ard Comhairle minutes, 23/02/63; I have abstracted these in the hypertext. In general I have over-viewed the 1960s political process primarily from my own papers of the time, and from the Wolfe Tone Society minutes which are, at least partially, in the Coughlan archive. The Wolfe Tone Societies were the key influence behind the 1960s attempted politicising of the Republican Movement. The attempt to develop a radical democratic political party out of the SF/IRA is documented in the archive of the then Sinn Fein, for access to which I am indebted to Tomas Mac Giolla, Sean Garland and the current Workers Party staff. There is also much material in the Greaves Journals, which I have abstracted in three detailed modules covering the 1960s decade; these however are currently under embargo but will eventually be made available when the Greaves diaries are deposited in the National Library by their custodian Anthony Coughlan. I have however produced an abstract containing excerpts of some Greaves material relating primarily to the NICRA, and Anthony Coughlan has agreed to waive the embargo in respect of this, so that it can become a referable source on the current context.
23. The Wolfe Tone records have been preserved by Anthony Coughlan, since the demise of the Wolfe Tone Society at the end of the 1970s. I have with his permission embodied some abstracts of records of key events in the political thread of the hypertext, including the May 1963 Convention. The Hubert Butler lecture on the occasion of the Mansion House commemoration has been preserved in his collected essays, published by Lilliput.
24. Maire Comerford needs definitive biographical treatment; she was a friend of Constance Markeiwicz, had been secretary to Alice Stopford Green, and had served as Secretary to the First Dail, of which episode she published a history in 1969. The publisher was Joe Clarke. She had remained on telephoning terms with de Valera. At the time of the death of Michael Collins she was with the 'irregular' unit said to have been responsible for the ambush, claiming that it was elsewhere. She dedicated some effort to the problem of the death of Collins, being convinced that the British were in some way responsible. I have touched on this question in my Atlantis review of the Tom Jones Diaries.
26. The first IBM proposal for the Aer Lingus 'real-time reservations system' had stalled; the American Airlines version, of which we were to have had the European pilot version, had saturated at a third of its planned capacity, and we were trying to find out why. I developed a model of what was going on, using the theory of queues, and we were over in the IBM development labs in Kingston NY checking it out. This enabled me to get into computer-based problem analysis, at quite a detailed hands-on level. I go into this in some depth; it offers a handle on the inductive approach to organisational learning. The 'analytical simulator' of the real-time reservations system is described in the 1960s module of the techno-economic thread. Subsequent work on the 'what if' evaluation of the fleet planning options is also on record there. This work was reported at the 1965 Chicago conference of AGIFORS the Airline Group of the International Federation of OR Societies).
27. I have taken a copy of the microfilm, but the quality is poor, and it is not feasible to scan it in. A more extensive abstract is available in the first 1960s module of the political thread in the hypertext.
29. I subsequently managed to introduce a Donegal-Derry linkage concept (ie a cross-border development agency) at the June 1965 meeting in Derry of the Irish Association; this must have been the origin of the idea.
30. I have found my notes for this event, which took place on 24/10/64, and have included them in the WTS folder, currently in the Coughlan archive. I have included this and other related material in the hypertext, as an outline of my 1964 aspirations. I have also summarised there some of my contemporary notes on the 1964 Sinn Fein 'social and economic programme'; among other things these echo JJ's analysis of the role of the large-scale commercial farm.
31. The review is available in full in the 1960s module of the Science and Society' thread of the hypertext; additional background on the CSTI is also given, supported by some of the associated political arguments. The OECD Report was also discussed in the SSISI in December 1966, and its consequences were also discussed at a further meeting of the SSISI in 1970, to which I contributed; there was a symposium of the 'Science Budget' and I have summarised it in the hypertext.
32. The Science in Ireland series of articles which appeared on the Irish Times on January 9-13 1967 were part of the fruits of the earlier 1965-66 CSTI work; they also laid the basis for the 1970s 'Science and Technology' column treated in the next chapter.
33. Ethna MacManus, now married to Michael Viney, had been influential in introducing co-operative principles to some Mayo farmers groups in the 1950s. She was among the group which founded the Wolfe Tone Society in 1964, and was an active supporter of the Goulding politicisation programme.
34. I have had this from Mick Ryan orally, and he has also gone on record to that effect in an article which was published in a special bicentenary issue of the United Irishman, revived for the bicentenary occasion in 1998 by Harry Donaghy, 27 Poland St, Belfast BT12 7EX, who now owns the United Irishman Publications imprint.
36. Dr Con McCluskey and his wife in Dungannon were pioneer campaigners on civil rights issues, and were among the early supporters of the NICRA. See also the Greaves diaries, 8/6/64 and 13-16/3/65.
38. According to Mick Ryan, militarism was still strong at the time; MR and Malachi McGurran were distrustful of Costello. The basis of this distrust was probably Costello's vision of combining the ending of abstention with what amounted to a Stalinist or quasi-militaristic political model. Some notes on the November 1965 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, in Moran's Hotel, are embedded in the first 1960s module of the political thread in the hypertext.
39. The Co-operative Development Trust initiated a disastrous project called Comhar Linn, modelled on Gael Linn, which consumed resources and effort and never came to anything. I have written some critical notes on this episode in the 1960s module of the Plunkett thread of the hypertext.
42. I had earlier written a letter to the United Irishman querying the use of the rosary at republican commemorations, which I felt should be projected as political rather than religious events. Sean Mac Stiofain took great exception to this. I considered it important then, and still do, to decouple totally all politics from any religious sectarian tinge.
44. The question of Bowyer Bell's terms of reference, and to what did he get access, remain on the agenda. I have seen him, and he said he was not encouraged to see me. Whom did he see? Mick Ryan finds this intriguing and feels it should be explored further.
45. The first two were the assassins of Sir Henry Wilson in 1922 on the orders of Collins. The second two were executed for bombing in Britain in 1939. The 'return of the remains' process had commenced with Roger Casement in 1966, on government initiative. The writer has often wondered whether the timing of the releases of these post-Casement remains might perhaps have been selected by the British to undermine the republican politicisation process. At the times of the releases the focus on Civil Rights in the North was beginning to take effect. Did they perhaps need to divert the republican movement back into military mode, which they knew how to handle? The Dunne and O'Sullivan funeral took place at Deans Grange and gave a high-profile public platform to Sean Mac Stiofain. The Barnes McCormack funeral took place at Mullingar in 1969 at a time when the NICRA was in the ascendant, and Jimmy Steele was the main speaker. The Barnes McCormack Committees were the skeleton of the post-split Provisional Sinn Fein.
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Copyright Dr Roy Johnston 1999