Nelson McCausland: revolutionaries deal a blow to Irish freedom … by renaming a street in Belfast in honor of a trade unionist
Last week Lasair Dhearg (Red Flame) was on the streets of Belfast to fight “imperialism”, “colonialism”, “occupation”, “subjugation” and “partition”. Armed with a stepladder and what looked like sticky plastic signs, they were ready to unleash their Marxist Republican revolution. It looks more like a Monty Python script, with a hint of Blue Peter and a lot of Citizen Smith.
they had selected a number of street names and sent a group of activists with the revolutionary mission of pasting 14 new street signs with names.
Most of the new names were those of members of the Provisional IRA, the Irish Republican Brotherhood or the United Irishmen.
Donegall Square South was to be renamed Bobby Sands Street and Norfolk Drive was to become Mayor Drumm Street, while Queen’s University was to be renamed Mairead Farrell University.
Now this has certainly given them some publicity, as I suspect that until last week 99.9% of the population of Northern Ireland had never heard of them, even though Lasair Dhearg claims trained in West Belfast in July 2017.
We already have a crowded field of Republican Socialist and Republican Socialist organizations, with the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the Republican Network for Unity, Eirigi (Rise Up) and Saoradh (Liberation) to name a few, but now Lasair Dhearg has decided to enter this already crowded field.
In fairness, they have a website, logo, manifesto, and a long list of grievances, but a quick read of their website suggests they have more grievances than members.
It really is a micro-group. Regarding their relationships with other micro-groups, their current spokesperson, Pol Torboid, was previously a spokesperson for Eirigi and indeed several of their senior executives were once prominent in Eirigi. Schisms, resignations and realignments characterize these micro-groups.
But back to the street name signs, which were easily glued and probably just as easily removed by someone else afterwards.
On their website, Lasair Dhearg has a quote from South American Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara: âThe first duty of a revolutionary is to be educated.
With such a laudable commitment to education, I am therefore sure that Lasair Dhearg will welcome me by providing historical information on two of their temporary street names, William Drennan Street, which has been proposed for Ireton Street in the Lower Quarter. d’Ormeau, and The Invincibles Street, which was proposed for Cavendish Street in the Springfield Road area.
The endorsement of The Irish National Invincibles is not entirely surprising. They were the Irish Republican gang that carried out the Phoenix Park murders in Dublin in 1882.
One of their victims was Lord Frederick Cavendish, and Lasair Dhearg wanted to replace a victim’s last name with that of the organization that killed him.
Of course, that’s not all that surprising, especially since Lasair Dhearg’s website praises the late Billy McKee, the most bitter of all Provisional IRA godfathers.
Seamus Heaney spoke of “hope and history”, but some seem to prefer “hate and history”.
However, there may be hope, and for that I turn to another of the names they selected, Dr William Drennan. He was the Belfast-born son of a Presbyterian minister and the founder of the Society of United Irishmen.
However, Dr. Drennan left the United Irish, took no part in the rebellion of 1798 and, like many other former United Irishmen, reconciled with the Union of Great Britain and Ireland.
Indeed, in 1811, Dr Drennan wrote in The Belfast Penny Magazine: âBe British with all your soul and forget that your father called himself Irish.
I suspect that the members of Lasair Dhearg never read these words, which hardly correspond to the revolutionary Republican aspirations of their organization.
Nonetheless, I can only hope that the members of Lasair Dhearg, with their endorsement of Dr William Drennan and their enthusiasm for education, will come to a similar conclusion.
In the meantime, when there is so much depressing news, their ill-informed antics at least made me smile.