The Ta Power Document Scandal
This was the prevalent attitude in the years 1974-1975! The 'War' was the overriding issue to the detriment of all else, and that is literally speaking from DISCIPLINE, ACCOUNTABILITY, EFFICIENCY, etc. In the six counties the war was pursued with a sense of vigour in relation to the finances, materials and resources that were available. The army was the place to be. In the army the prospects of power was a tangible force, where the romantic notion of the 'Freedom Fighter' was seen through impressionable eyes and the ranks swelled with new politically ignorant, anti-party recruits.
Brigade areas took a greater degree of autonomy within which 'powerblocks' developed and a "law unto us" mentality was rife. In such a set-up 'DISCIPLINE' broke down, or became non-existent in areas.
ACCOUNTABILITY suffered as no one was amenable for their actions, or lack of them, whichever the case may have been, naturally 'EFFICIENY' and 'EFFECTIVENESS' were further causalities in the overall structure; after all, no 'CENTRAL AUTHORITY' could exist in a sea of powerblocks simply because there was no 'COLLECTIVE LEADERSHIP' within the army council capable of giving agreed direction higher up the structural ladder.
Belfast, being centrally important to the war, became the single most important exponent of 'the law unto ourselves mentality' concept and its accompanying structural defects. Belfast strengthened its position and accelerated the 'structural decay' by grafting onto its swollen sphere of influence other areas, people and support.
The gulf between Belfast and Dublin widened further with Belfast refusing to acknowledge the importance of the party, but instead increased their demands and pressure for 'war materials'. Dublin on the other hand consolidated its own position by maintaining a head office, producing a party organ (THE STARRY PLOUGH) and promoting the importance of the party.
To be a 'macho' man you had to be in the army and have a healthy distaste for the political party. Not only that, you had to see victory coming about exclusively from the arms effort; anything else was 'weakness' 'sissy' and 'not committed'!
The party in the six counties was deliberately allowed to wither away, simply because the mixture of 'politically naive apolitical' members in the six counties did not have any idea of essentially what the struggle was about. The membership was young, reckless, impressionable and eager militants, the army council was unable to provide a proper leadership to give revolutionary direction and by virtue of its make-up as outlined in point (1) - it was a 'militaristic body' unable to give any other direction, other than 'Military Victory'!
IN CONCLUSION: Firstly we must recognise and accept that the presence or absence of a revolutionary political party will have a profound affect on the overall development of any revolutionary movement and ultimately the outcome of the national liberation struggle.
It is unfortunate, but nevertheless true, that throughout the history of our movement this basic was not at work. WHY? The reason being that the power, control and influence that the rank 'CHIEF OF STAFF' bestowed on the individual who fills the position, has been such that the chief of staff has had 'EXCESSIVE' power to the detriment of a collective leadership.
The reasons why this has been so differs depending on the era and the particular 'individual' holding down the position. Some of these reasons would suggest that it was 'personalities' at work, from which seemed larger than life characters; forceful and overbearing characters; 'dominating' characters or even intellectual superiority!
Regardless of whatever reason above, that which did not differ was the consequences: Our movement was run like a 'MILITARY DICTATORSHIP'. 'INTERNAL DEMOCRACY' did not exist; one person was in 'complete' control, amenable to none for his actions. Making decisions on matters, which he knew little about and cared even less.
Twelve years is long enough to wander in the wilderness, it is now time for this movement to tackle the fundamentals, learn from the past and benefit from our mistakes.
The text quoted above has been attributed to Thomas 'Ta' Power and is now included in what in the Irish Republican Socialist Party is referred to as 'The Ta Power's Document'. This text was not a part of the original Ta Power's Document, but was alledgedly discovered years after the original document had been responsible for the reorganisation of the Irish Republican Socialist Movement. It is the contention of those who left the IRSM and founded the International Republican Socialist Network that this second document was not written by Ta Power, but was deliberately mis-attributed to him in order to utilize the tremendous respect for Ta within the IRSM to support the agenda of a specific faction within the IRSP's leadership.
We encourage all interested parties to read both documents themselves and determine for themselves whether they appear to have the same author. The first document, which we are certain was written by Ta Power ends with the words, "Enough said!" Everything thereafter is from the so-called "second document".
Why do comrades from the IRSN claim the second document is not by Ta Power? Let us begin with the last section quoted above. "Twelve years is long enough to wander in the wilderness, it is now time for this movement to tackle the fundamentals, learn from the past and benefit from our mistakes." This was written about the period following the assassination of Seamus Costello in 1977 and thus would reference the period from that time until 1989, but Ta Power was killed by the IPLO in 1987. Should we conclude that Ta's math skills left something to be desired? I don't think so. Instead, I think we should recognize that this document does not share the sentiments of the Ta Power document, which was written by a volunteer of the INLA while incarcerated and intended for internal discussion within the ranks of the INLA. Instead, this document attributed to Ta Power reflects the sentiments of a faction within the IRSP's leadership with an overall negative view of the heroic arme!
d struggle waged by the INLA.
For additional evidence, let us compare the description of Seamus Costello in the so-called 'second document' with that in the original Ta Power's document. The later document describes him as follows: "Seamus Costello - a domineering cult figure - pushed, cajoled, argued and articulated the immediate creation and building of a revolutionary party, meaning the majority of the movement's finance, resources and energy would be directed away from the army. Costello was a strong-willed, politically astute, highly intelligent and capable person, almost an autocrat, around whom the fledgling Movement revolved and bitter controversy raged."
But the original Ta Power document had this to say:
"All, not trying to draw a distinction between; it must be said that the assassination of Seamus Costello was a severe blow not only to the IRSP but also to the whole anti-imperialist struggle and the struggle for a socialist republic in Ireland.
"The sheer stature of the revolutionary Seamus Costello is far too great for what can be expressed in feeble words, yet words are the only to express and convey this stature albeit in a feeble way.
"In finishing this section we quote the following:
"Seamus was the greatest follower of my fathers teachings in this generation and I hope that his example shall be followed and that his vision for Ireland will be realised in this generation" -- Nora Connolly O'Brien.
"Seamus was the most sincere man I ever had the pleasure to know" -- Father Piaras O Duill.
"Without a doubt he was the greatest threat to the capitalist establishment since James Connolly" -- Sean Doyle.
"Seamus spoke for the IRSP and give a scintillating display of good humour, history, politics and hard facts. No one who listened to his three hours in the afternoon, and by unanimous demand, two hours repeat in the evening, now doubts that they will either have to shoot him or jail him or get out of his way, but they certainly won't stop him! Costello, the revolutionary, Marxist socialist whose ambition is a secular, pluralist united socialist republic won't go away until he gets it" -- Dr Noel Browne.
"From 1964 - 1974 he held the positions of Adjutant General, Chief of staff and director of operations in the Official IRA and the positions of vice president of Official Sinn Fein.
"From 1974 to his death on the 5th of October 1977 he held the position of Chief of staff and director of operations in INLA.
"At the time of his assassination he was a member of the following bodies: Wicklow County Council, Co Wicklow Committee of Agriculture, General Council of Committees of Agriculture, Eastern Regional Development Committee, Bray Urban District Council, Bray branch of ITGWU, Bray and District Trade Union Council, of which he was president between 1976-1977, the Historical Society, and chairman of the IRSP.
"As can be seen, he personified with himself what he ardently expounded and pursued throughout his life: the unity of the national liberation struggle and the class struggle and how they must go forward together.
Founder of the IRSP and the INLA Costello left no doubt, even when launching the broad front policy, where his allegiance, priority, and aims lay when he stated: "I OWE MY ALLEGIANCE ONLY TO THE WORKING CLASS" following in the expressed his position in the same words. This is the example he set for us to emulate."
Is it really believable that the author of the original Ta Power's document went from the words just quoted to calling Costello a "cult figure" and an "autocrat"? We don't think so.
Do the initial quotes at the start of this article, drawn from the so-called "second document", sound like they were written by a dedicated INLA volunteer for an audience of other volunteers? Again, we don't think so.
We do not believe that collective leadership was an issue that Ta Power had concerned himself with. We do not believe that Ta harbored the stridently anti-military sentiments reflected in the so-called "second document" either; and we are appalled that senior IRSP activists, with personal histories of heroic action within the INLA have done nothing to challenge this fraud and hold those responsible for it accountable.
We encourage comrades in the IRSM, supporters of the IRSM, and all those who consider themselves revolutionaries within the republican socialist current to read the document (available at: http://irsm.org/history/tapowerdoc.html) and decide for themselves if it is likely that these two documents had the same author. If they are convinced, as we were, that this is not the case, we call upon them to have this imposture document purged from the IRSM's archives and bring pressure to ensure that those responsible for this fraud are held accountable for this affront to the memory of a heroic martyr of the IRSM.
Comrade, International Republican Socialist Network
Jun 21 2009
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