Notes for AWL day school on Ireland, May-June 2006

Submitted by martin on 3 June, 2006 - 4:22

Saturday 20 May 2006, 12:00 to 17:00, St Matthew's Hall, Carver St, Sheffield.
Saturday 3 June 2006, 14:00 to 18:00, Sebbon St Community Centre, Sebbon St, London N1 (behind Islington Town Hall).

Basic reading

Workers' Guide to Ireland (not available online: printed copies £1 including postage from AWL office)

# texts from Ireland: a socialist answer
# The partition of Ireland: the events of 1912-22 and their consequences for Ireland today

Supplementary reading:

Provos, Protestants, and working-class politics (Workers' Liberty 5)

Structure of school:

We will develop a collective understanding of the key turning points in the history of Ireland, and also of the key turning points around two particular periods: around Partition (1921), and the time between the rise of the Catholic civil rights movement and the first decisive moves for joint London-Dublin gradual reshaping of Ireland from above (1985).

Small-group discussions one: overall outline history

Using the longer list of dates on page 2 of the Workers' Guide to Ireland, choose a short list of six key turning points in the history of Ireland, writing a couple of lines to explain the significance of each turning point.

Small-group discussions two: Partition

1. Discuss and write a short answer to the question: Why was Ireland partitioned?

2. Comment critically on the proposition: "The overriding principle on the Irish question was and is self-determination for the Irish people as a whole. Partition was an outrage against that principle. The key task for democratic and socialist politics after that was and is to end Partition by any means necessary".

3. Comment critically on the proposition: "The Anglo-Scots people of Northern Ireland had the same right of self-determination as any other people, and the Northern Ireland state was and is a valid expression of their right to self-determination".

4. What should Marxists have said about Partition at the time? What did they say?

Small-group discussions three: 1968 to 1985

1. Formulate a short list of six key turning points between 1968 and 1985. Add to them the Provisional IRA ceasefire of 1994 and the Good Friday Agreement of 1998, and write a couple of lines on the significance of each of the eight turning points.

2. Review what we argued in each of the following periods, and write a couple of lines on what you think we got right and what you think we got wrong:

a) Before 1968;

b) 1969;

c) The early 1970s.

3. Discuss and write down a few lines about whether you think we were right or wrong to advocate refusing to vote for the Good Friday Agreement in the referendum of 1998.

[For this debate, see below:]

Class politics and the agreement: the documents from AWL conference 1999

Who will win the peace in Northern Ireland?" (analysis of the Good Friday Agreement, 1998, by Sean Matgamna)

Discussion contributions, 1998: Pat Murphy, Sean Matgamna, Jim Denham, Dave Ball.

Further discussion: Liam Conway, Martin Thomas, Pat Murphy, Pete Radcliff, Ivan Wels, Elaine Jones, Mark Osborn, Jean Lane

Further discussion: Rosie Woods, Clive Bradley, Frank Higgins

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