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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Not the Cathal Goulding I Knew

'Cathal Goulding, the one time Official IRA/Stick chief of staff, knew exactly how to strangle republicanism. The trick was to corrode it from within. Republicanism can withstand inordinate amounts of pressure from without. But it is always vulnerable to the false messiah, the leader who thinks we exist as playthings in his little dance of deceit. Such leaders prevail only where they go unchallenged.' - Anthony McIntyre

Liam O Comain • 30 August 2006

The above slur on the character of the late Cathal Goulding destroyed a speech for me which I am in much agreement with and which was delivered by Anthony McIntyre at the H-Block 25th Anniversary Ceremony in Bundoran, County Donegal, recently. Perhaps the speaker was aware that like himself many in the audience were ex-provisionals who in the main followed Gerry Adams on the road towards reinforcing partition until for whatever reason they had a Damascus type of experience and left. That they did so I welcome but I cannot go unchallenged cheap playacting to an audience at such a hallowed event.

It is obvious that Anthony McIntyre is completely ignorant of Cathal Goulding as a person and the former IRA Chief of Staff as a revolutionary republican. Goulding was one of the main arthitects who kept the Republican Movement in existence after the cease fire in 1962 based upon his total committment to the republican cause and especially its revolutionary and working class roots. Cathal Goulding was elected the Chief of Staff of the Irish Republican Army because of that committment. A task which he fulfilled to the best of his ability, in spite of the fact that at the time there were only a handful of active republicans (especially in Belfast) in existence centered around people like the late Liam McMillen and a young up and coming Joe McCann. For after the 56/62 Border Campaign many so called republicans in Ireland went into retirement. Demoralised or whatever! Some of the latter in the north then returned when the Defence Committees appeared in the nationalist areas. Some becoming founders of the Provos especially in the light of contact made to them by Captain Kelly and others of southern military intelligence. Fuelled of course by Jack Lynch's speech of 'we shall not stand idly by' and the small amount of training of nationalist youth at Irish Army bases near to the border, plus the promise of weapons from the Haughey administration. And in spite of this Goulding kept his head, although he knew that some of the returned elements were dead set upon his removal for that is what their new found friends in Fianna Fail desired. Yes there was to be 'no talk of republican socialism and the lefties had to go if you want our help and support'. Sadly the reactionaries succeeded in destroying an evolving revolutionary movement. The right on that occassion were successful but the ultimate outcome has led to the Adams phenomenon of today. A split, demoralised republican movement of contesting factions. An aspect of which was the event at Bundoran at which Anthony McIntyre slurred a dead revolutionary — perhaps because that's what some of his listeners desired. For whether they like it or not many of his listeners gave life to the Adams sell out. Attacking the memory of Cathal Goulding will not salve the conscience of the betrayers whether conscious or otherwise.

In addition, some of Anthony McIntyre's audience used the well-worn 'communist or red scare' in their attempt to undermine the republican leadership of the time. Captain Kelly et al. had done their homework well and also recruited elements of the republican population in Belfast who had become inactive following the 56' to 62' period; indeed there were some who were recruited and were not active during that period. These non activists had to gain control of the movement in Belfast in particular, and they alleged that the republican leadership had no weapons to defend the nationalist areas from attack because the weapons had been sold to liberation groups in other countries. What the overwhelming of those collaborators with the Dublin Government failed to acknowledge was that the IRA had just come out of a border campaign in which the northern so-called security forces had succeeded in capturing many republican arms dumps. Also, others had been captured in the south through an informer at national leadership level and who was one of the founders of the Provos. They also overlooked that fact that the then republican leadership was in the throes of rebuilding the movement with no help from those who put out the latter lie of numerous gun sales. In fact, I have always maintained that the advent of the tactic of civil rights agitation was premature, for it destroyed the the formation of a disciplined revolutionary movement which Goulding hoped to see moving amongst the nationalist population as a means of guideing positive street politics. Yes, a vanguard if you wish, but at the service of the Irish population who subscribed to national self-determination and revolutionary democracy.

I present extracts from a speech by Cathal Goulding in 1965 which reveals the picture of the true person not the suir type projection presented to the listeners at Bundoran by Anthony McIntyre.

There Must be a Fight

Goulding's speech 'There Must be a Fight' was delivered at Drogheda on 15th August 1965, and was first printed in United Irishman in September of that year.

"The men whom we honour here today died for a cause which promised a glorious future. I think that it is appropriate that I, a man who has been reared in a period since their deaths, the period of their future, should deliver this oration. Some of the men whom we honour died at the hands of the Black and Tans. Two of them, Tommy Halpin and Sean Moran died at this spot. All died so that Ireland might be Gaelic and Free. All died for a future, a glorious future. A future in which Ireland would be governed by Irishmen, owned by Irishmen, an Ireland which would cherish her children equally, which would spread her wealth equally among all her children, an Ireland the charter of which would be the dictum of the Proclamation of Easter Week. They died for a future, for a glorious future, the children of that future, for you and me, for your children and mine, so that we might have our country for ourselves, be kings of our own castle, so that we could enjoy the fruits of our own land, that we might have independence, live in peace and comfort, hold our heads in honour and that Ireland our country could take her place among the nations of the earth.

"The future for which they died would be a glorious one indeed. That future has come and gone, but the glory, the truth and the honour have been missing from it. Their dreams, hopes, objectives are unattained, but their fight has been carried on, their battle cry of freedom taken up. This town of Drogheda, of all Irish towns, has been witness to the continuation of the fight. Some of the finest of your manhood have participated in that fight right up to the present day. You, in this town, have seen some of your best men behind prison bars in the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's.

"You have seen the remains of Ritchie Goss [executed by hanging in Portlaoise Prison on 9th August 1941] pass through this town on the way to his final resting place in Dundalk. He carried on the fight of the men whom we honour today. He fought for that glorious future, he made the supreme sacrifice. You in this town have seen the remains of Tommy Harte [executed by hanging in Mountjoy Gaol on 6th September 1940] and Sean McCaughey [died on hunger-strike on 11th May 1946 in Portlaoise Prison] being borne to their final resting places. You too have seen the remains of Sean South [killed on active service on 1st January 1957] and Keegan go southwards on their way to Wexford. You have seen evidence that some have paid more than lip service to the ideals of those honoured. You should know their fight will be continued, continued to the end, continued till Irish freedom has been won, continued till that glorious future for which they died has been achieved.

"The belief is still held today that the only way to rid this country of an armed British force is to confront them with an armed force of Irishmen backed by a united Irish people. There will and must be a fight. We only have to look around to see that we will have to fight on the military front, the social front, the economic front and the cultural front. It is unnecessary for me to dwell on the state of our language, our music and our dancing in Ireland today. Official attitudes to our culture can be seen in the amount of attention paid to it in our mass communication media. It is our task to give our language, our music and our games an honoured place among our objectives in the struggle for full independence. The battle on the economic front is second only in importance to the battle on the military front. . .

"Is the fear of our rulers that all will have a certain measure of prosperity instead of the present position in which the privileged live in luxury and the majority live in poverty? Whether they like it or not the battle is on, economic resistance is in progress. The success or failure of this movement relies on the ordinary people. It is up to the worker, the small farmer, the fisherman and the housewife to fight in this campaign. It is up to us to break the grip of the foreign financier, the foreign capitalist (and the Irish ones too), the hire purchase companies, and the profiteers on the economy of our land. It is up to us to see that our money is put to work in our own country and for our benefit. It is up to us to see that our country does not become a playground for the rich foreigners, a land in which we are trespassers in what is rightly our own, a land in which we are poachers of what belongs to us, a land of shoneens and slaves. The men whom we honour did not die for such a land, we owe it to them and to ourselves, that it does not become so.

"Of all the ideals for which Irishmen have fought and died, none has been greater, none has been of more importance to them, none has been nobler than the guarantee enshrined in the Proclamation of Easter Week — Equal Right and Equal Opportunities for all the children of the nation. Are Equal Rights and Equal Opportunities available to all the children of this country? Are they available to the children of any part of this country? Do the opportunities available to a child in this country depend on the abilities which God has given that child or do the opportunities which he gets depend on how much money his father has? Well do you and I know that the latter is so. Well do you know that there is one law for the rich and one law for the poor. To bring about a position in which equality of opportunity can be guaranteed we must have independence. We will have to fight for that independence on the fronts we have mentioned, we will have to unite our people and united we will have to rid our country of the last vestige of British influence.

"In the Ireland of today with all those tea parties, charity balls and big shot entertainment’s we tend to forget that part of our country is occupied by an armed force of British soldiers. The majority of us tend to accept it as inevitable that they remain there but there are some, there have always been some to whom the kernel of the whole national problem lies in the military occupation. The men whom we honour here today believed that such was the case. The men in the '40's believed it. Sean South and the men of '56 believed it. The belief is still held today, the belief that the only way to rid this country of an armed British force is to confront them with an armed force of Irishmen backed by an united Irish people.

"The British forces in the six counties will be confronted by such a force. It is inevitable that they will be. This military camp combined with the economic resistance camp can be successful. It will be successful if we unite and fight for it."

That speech reflects the true nature of Cathal Goulding and what he had in mind for the Irish people. And as I said earlier, unfortunately the movement required time to ripen and this it lacked for circumstances and a positive morale prematurely ignited the civil rights movement. For an important aspect of the new thinking in the movement was allied street politics such as the civil rights campaign. For as I have written elsewhere:

"Following the IRA ceasefire of 1962 (the so-called Border Campaign) a small group of republicans, centred around Cathal Goulding, Seamus Costello and Tomas MacGiolla, were interested in the ideas contained in a pamphlet by Desmond Graves: 'The Irish Question and the British People'. Graves was a member of the Connolly Association in Britain and editor of its newspaper, The Irish Democrat. In the pamphlet he argued that the best way forward for the anti-partitionist movement was through a civil rights campaign.

In August 1966 representatives of an Irish version of the Connolly Association, namely the Wolfe Tone Society (a republican think-tank) met in Maghera, Co. Derry. The subject of the conference which included invited guests was whether a civil rights movement should be established in the six counties of British occupied Ireland (as distinct from the 26 county neo-colonial statelet).

Those in attendance included the IRA Chief of Staff Cathal Goulding, Roy Johnston, Ciaran Mac an Aili, two Nationalist Party MPs, and Conn and Patricia McCluskey. . . IRA OCs and republican organisers from the north were also in attendance.

After an agreement was reached to establish a civil rights movement, the Belfast Wolfe Tone Society agreed to sponsor a meeting, later, in order to present the proposal to a wider spectrum of potential supporters. In November the second meeting took place, and Kadar Asmal (who was eventually to become a member of the South African Government, then a Law Lecturer at Trinity College, Dublin) made an interesting contribution to the meeting. Among the other contributors, Ciaran Mac an Aili, in a talk on civil disobedience as championed by Martin Luther King suggested that similar tactics could be used in the 6 counties. A proposal to launch a movement was well received, and at a third conference on January the 29th, 1967, the Civil Rights Association (NICRA) came into being.

Parallel with these developments a reorganising of the republican movement was taking place. The late Malachy MacGurran of Lurgan and myself (a native of Limavady, Co. Derry) were appointed full- time organisers of the movement in the north of Ireland. In addition to republican structure our task was to include the involvement of rank and file republicans in the civil rights campaign as well as co-operating with individuals and groups in the establishment of housing action committees and branches of the civil rights movement.

At the 1967 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, Tomas MacGiolla stated that it was the intention of Sinn Fein to launch a campaign of social agitation north and south, particularly in the area of housing.

In the north housing agitation had an anti-unionist complexion. And because of Derry's uniqueness, as a place of unionist discrimination and gerrymandering, I was given the task of forming a coalition between members of the local James Connolly Republican Club and local radicals. In due course this became a reality through the holding of meetings attended by a select number of people..."

The latter reflects the thinking of Cathal Goulding and other republican leaders of the time. It was indeed a new venture. In fact, in an oration at a special Wolfe Tone commemoration at Bodenstown, Co Kildare, I emphasised the point that republican participation in the civil rights movement was for one reason only: a means for "nurturing a revolutionary consciousness in the Irish people and gaining their support."

This oration was delivered during the re-dedication of a new memorial by the National Graves Association, after loyalists (allegedly) bombed Tone's grave some months previously.

As a member of the Ard Comhairle of Sinn Fein at the time, I recall writing the oration in the home of the then president, Tomas MacGiolla, who agreed with the contents and endorsed it on behalf of the leadership.

Retrospectively, the tragedy of the split which gave rise to the birth of the Provisionals aside from the intelligence activity of the southern political establishment arose from a few personality struggles, wrong assumptions, and the mistaken idea that physical force was a republican principle rather than one of a number of means to achieve our objective of a free and self-determining Ireland.

No! Cathal Goulding was not what he was painted by Anthony McIntyre, and in due course history will confirm the truth of my opinion.




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
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Index: Current Articles

3 September 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Sinn Fein: Or the Party of Symbolic Republicanism
David Kruidenier

Public Commitment or Public Relations
Martin Galvin

Suits You, Sir
John Kennedy

False Memory Syndrome
Ray McAreavey

True Faith
Eamon Sweeney

Not the Cathal Goulding I Knew
Liam O Comain

Dark Days Ahead
John Kennedy

Return to Conflict No Alternative
David Adams

Sir Reg's Party Games
Anthony McIntyre

A Secret History of Irish Music
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Unionism's Favourite Nationalist
Dr John Coulter

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 7
Michael Gillespie

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 8
Michael Gillespie

Trotsky and the Ghetto of the Sects
Mick Hall

Global Conscience Not US Capital: The Case for Liberal Intervention
Gabriel Glickman

Letter to Bertie
Michael McKevitt Justice Campaign

27 August 2006

The Price of Our Memory
Anthony McIntyre

In the Balance
John Kennedy

The Time for Revolutionary Marxism is NOW
Darren Cogavin

No! To A Holy War
Liam O Comain

Rendition Collusion
Eoin McGrath

Rendition Flights
John Kennedy

An Open Letter to Martina Anderson
Dr John Coulter

An Honest Writer: Cristóir Ó Floinn
Seaghán Ó Murchú

A Dual Presidency: An Improbable Solution to the Irish Problem
Michael Gillespie

Michéal Mhá Dúnnáin

Petition Calling for a Referendum on Irish Unification
Patrick Lismore

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 5
Michael Gillespie

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 6
Michael Gillespie

Number Crunching
Dr John Coulter

PFI Ventures Show the Con in all its Sordid Splendour
Anthony McIntyre



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