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“The revolution will inevitably awaken in the British working class the deepest passions which have been diverted along artificial channels with the aid of football.” Leon Trotsky.

A couple of weeks back, I got the oppurtunity to interview Gabriel Kuhn of PM Press, and author of “Soccer versus the State.” Anyone on here knows our views when it comes to football, keep it local, keep it real and forget about your barstool; a lot of that is covered in the interview. Not initially done for here, it was DFallon who suggested I put it up.  If you’ve an interest in football, history and politics, read on.

Notorious Boo Boys

1) Football comes in for much negative criticism from the left, mainly criticisms similar to Trotsky’s above, deriding it as cathartic and a distraction. Yet in recent years, we’ve seen iconic events like the “Football Revolution” in Iran, the Greek riots following the death of Alexandros Grigoropoulos (where Panathanaikos fans fought against the police side by side with Anarchists) and the Al-Ahly Ultras in Egypt and their apparent hand in revolution there. How influential has football been in Rebellions and amongst the rebellious throughout history?

Football has been attracting the masses around the world for over a century. Where masses gather, the powerful lose control – unless we’re talking about orchestrated mass gatherings, which are characteristic of fascist and authoritarian regimes. But this doesn’t really work with football, since it is hard to orchestrate a football game. Football is too unpredictable.

Authoritarian regimes have always used the prestige that derives from football victories for political purposes, but they have had a hard time to use football as a general propaganda tool. The Nazis abandoned national encounters altogether after an embarrassing loss to Sweden in Berlin in 1942. And it is not only the game that is unpredictable. So are football crowds. You never know which direction their desires might take. There is always a potential for rebellion – unfortunately, there is also always a potential for reactionary celebrations of the status quo. Neither football nor football fans are rebellious per se. We have radical supporters, we have fascist supporters; we have football teams that spur nationalism, we have football teams that spur international solidarity. At the right moments, the rebellious side comes through, as in the examples you mentioned and in many others: long before the current uprising in Libya, the terraces of Libyan football stadiums turned into spaces of dissent whenever Gadaffi-favoured teams were playing; in the 1980s, Polish workers made regular use of football stadiums to express support for the then illegal trade union Solidarność; in fact, the very first steps to regulate the game of football in the early 19th century was caused by regular antiauthoritarian riots in connection with the inter-village football games at the time.

Football does have the cathartic and distracting dimensions that many leftists deride, no doubt. But it also has a subversive dimension. The challenge for radical football-loving activists is to fuel the latter.
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“For many years past, Liberty Hall has been a thorn in the side of the Dublin Police and the Irish Government. It was the centre of social anarchy, the brain of every riot and disturbance.” The Irish Times. (pg 191, Easter 1916, Townshend)

Neither Kenny nor Gilmore.

Reading through Charles Townshend’s excellent book “Easter 1916,” I picked out the above quote about Liberty Hall and thought to myself, how times really have changed. While DFallon’s recent post on Hawkin’s House challenged the myth, some still call it Dublin’s ugliest building, while others hold it in reverence. Although in this climate, the plans to see it torn down are unlikely, SIPTU have been talking about redeveloping as recently as last August. Personally I’d hate to see it removed, not because of it’s architectural significance or visually appealing exterior (or lack thereof,) but because of the historical relevance of the site and the significant difference it would make to Dublin’s skyline if it was replaced.

"And the banner read..." Originally posted here by DFallon

With the next government looking likely to be made up of a collaboration between Labour and Fine Gael, the current occupants of Liberty Hall, (SIPTU, who to be honest have been about as Anarchic as Tory Boy,) look fully set to have one foot in Leinster House. Not discounting the fact that due to Social Partnership, they have been bedfellows with the Government for over a decade, for the next four years or so, the party they have official ties with are to share power with a party whose roots are seeped in the fascist tradition. Dark days indeed.

"Vote Labour," Reclaim the Streets, 2002

I dread to think that in the next couple of weeks, a new banner will appear on the side of Liberty Hall, calling on the people of Ireland to vote Labour. Lets just hope it isn’t accompanied with an image of Joan “Joe Higgins eats babies” Burton. “The brain of every riot and disturbance” indeed.

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“The old guard and the new”, this is a classic Fianna Fail election leaflet encouraging the public to get behind two 1916 veterans (Oscar Traynor and Harry Colley), “stand by De Valera” and to put faith in two newer faces, Eugene Timmons and Charles Haughey. It is a most unusual piece, from the Dublin North East constituency.

Traynor is a well-known figure in Irish political history, in command at the Metropole Hotel during the 1916 Rising. Unusually, he was a soccer-man, and had toured Europe with Belfast Celtic in 1912. The image below is taken from a piece on his time at that club over on the excellent Belfast Celtic historical site.

Traynor (Goalkeeper) with the rest of the Belfast Celtic team in 1912.

Harry Colley had also taken part in the Rising, and the leaflet notes that he was “..left for dead at a Dublin street barricade” during the rebellion.

Ultimately, Charles Haughey would fail to win a seat in 1954, obtaining 1,812 votes. When Haughey did obtain a seat three years later in 1957, it was at the expense of Colley. The rest, as they say, is history.

Click to expand and read:

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A real gem this, spotted on the wonderful Irish Election Literature Blog. It’s Trevor Sargent. Of course, one of the only Green TD’s who might still have a job after the next election following a Grade A piece of theatre that made sure he came away looking like the last Green who hadn’t turned yellow. Here he is performing ‘The Garden Song’ for an audience of children.

Of my local TD’s, it’s either Mary Harney or No-Go Gogarty I’d pay the most to see whip out the guitar.

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It’s a good question for a pub quiz- How many bridges span the Liffey from Heuston Station to where Dublin meets the sea? No doubt you’ll get a plethora of answers, but you’ll rarely get the right one. You can guarantee people will forget that two bridges traverse the water at Heuston, they’ll forget about the little Rory O’Moore Bridge that has more history than most of them, or the DART Loopline at Butt Bridge. They might even forget the ugly abomination that is the East Link, the last connection between Northside and Southside before Dublin Bay separates the two…

Perhaps Dublin's best known bridge, The Ha'Penny Bridge.

The correct answer, if you want to know, is seventeen, starting at Sean Heuston Bridge and working all the way along the river to the Eastlink Bridge at Dublin Port. I’m not going to cover them all in this piece; I won’t be covering the bridges we all know, like O’Connell Bridge or the Ha’penny Bridge for that matter. What I will do is take a look at some of the ones to the west of O’Connell Bridge; ones I find interesting mainly due to who they’re named after or because of their historical importance.

-Sean Heuston Bridge (ex-King’s Bridge, Sarsfield Bridge) 1829

The first incarnation of the bridge was built in 1828/ 9 and named Kings Bridge to commemorate a visit by George IV to Dublin in 1821.  After the declaration of the Free State  in 1922, it was renamed Sarsfield Bridge, in memory of Patrick Sarsfield, leader of the Jacobite Rebellion of 1641. (I’ll talk about the 1641 Rebellion later.) In 1941 the bridge was again re-named, this time after Sean Heuston, a member of Na Fianna h-Éireann who played a prominent role in the Easter Rising of 1916.

At 19 years of age, Seán Heuston was Captain of a twenty three strong company of men, mostly Fianna h-Éireann members around his own age, who were directed by James Connolly to take “The  Mendicity (Institute on Ushers Island) at all costs”. Their goal was to prevent British re-inforcements coming into the city from The Curragh Camp and the West. They held out until Wednesday afternoon, until they were scattered by the 10th Battalion of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. One of the more striking stories of the Rebellion (or one of countless stories to tell of that week) is that of the Liutenant of the 10th Battalion, Lieutenant Gerald Aloysius Neilan who was shot and killed by a sniper from the Mendicity, while his brother Anthony Neilan took part in the Rising on the Rebel side. He was one of two Liutenants killed in Dublin that day, with another nine members of the 10th Batt. killed at the Mendicity,  as per a report to Prime Minister Asquith by General Sir John Maxwell.  Seán Houston was captured with 22 other men and executed by firing squad on May 8, 1916 in Kilmainham Jail on the charge that he “… did take part in an armed rebellion and in the waging of wars against His Majesty the king such act of being of such a nature as to be calculated to be prejudicial to the defence of the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy.”

 Kingsbridge Station was later renamed Heuston Station in his honour.

Nothing like this anymore of course, theres more silt than water under it, and the LUAS runs across it!

The Bridge itself was reconstructed in 2003 and now carries the LUAS from Tallaght to the Point.

– Rory O’Moore Bridge, (ex- Victoria & Albert Bridge, Queen Victoria Bridge) Watling Street to Ellis Street, 1859 (Previous structures: 1670, 1704)

“Oh lives there the traitor who’d shrink from the strife, who would add to the length of his forfeited life. And his country, his kindred, his faith would abjure; No we’ll strike for old Ireland and Rory O’Moore.” (more…)

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I’ve had the image below for quite a well now, a fantastic old press snap of two Gardaí inside Connolly House (located on Great Strand Street) after the attack on the premises in March 1933 by an anti-communist mob. Accounts of the night are always chaotic, for example in Pat Feeley’s wonderful article “The Siege of 64 Great Strand Street” (Old Limerick Journal,Vol. 9, Winter 1981) it is noted that:

“As the house filled with smoke and the mob began to occupy it, the defenders were making their escape across the rooftops. The fire brigade tried to rescue two women who were in difficulties on the slates but they were prevented by the crowd who slashed their water hose”

The fact a Webley and Colt. 45 Revolver were found by the Gardai behind the shop counter perhaps best indicates the political tension and state of fear at the time.

Feeley’s article also mentions a meeting held a number of days later where Maud Gonne McBride condemned those behind the scenes at Connolly House, to which a voice in the crowd responded that those involved were Catholics. When she continued to speak, and condemned the broader attacks of the street mobs:

Again the voice repeated, “It was Catholics”. To which this time she replied, “They were hooligans”

Bob Doyle, one of the men who was in the mob that attacked Connolly House, would go on to join the International Brigade forces opposing fascism in Spain. In his memoirs Brigadista, he wrote that:

“I had attended the evening mission on Monday 27 March 1933 at the Pro-Cathedral, during the period of Lent where the preacher was a Jesuit. The cathedral was full. He was standing in the pulpit talking about the state of the country, I remember him saying – which scared me – “Here in this holy Catholic city of Dublin, these voile creatures of Communism are within our midst.” Immediately after the sermon everybody then began leaving singing and gathered in a crowd outside, we must have been a thousand singing “To Jesus Heart All Burning” and “Faith of our Fathers, Holy Faith”. We marched down towards Great Strand Street, to the headquarters of the socialist and anti-Fascist groups in Connolly House. I was inspired, of you could use that expression, by the message of the Jesuit. There was no attempt by the police to stop us”

This, and other insightful accounts, can be read on the fantastic ‘Ireland and the Spanish Civil War’ website located here.

Connolly House, the headquarters in Dublin of the Irish Revolutionary Workers Group was set on fire after an attack made on the building by several hundred young men. Twenty were injured in the disturbances.

Photo shows:- Police officers on guard in one of the rooms after the attacks. Note the tin of petrol left by the raisers.

Grif March 31st 1933 PN.

Two stamps on the back of the photograph point to News Media companies in both London and New York.

ACME, Newspictures, Inc.
220 East 42nd St. New York City
‘THIS PICTURE IS SOLD TO YOU FOR YOUR PUBLICATION ONLY AND MUST
NOT BE LOANED OR, SYNDICATED OR USED FOR ADVERTISING PURPOSES
WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION FROM US.

COPYRIGHT
PLANET NEWS LTD.
3, JOHNSON’S COURT
LONDON, E.C 4

The Communist Party of Ireland site notes, in its biography to Charlotte Despard (an unlikely rebel, owing to her brother being none other than Lord Lieutenant of Ireland John French) that:

“On the 29th the mob attacked Charlotte Despard’s house at 63 Eccles Street, also home to the Irish Workers’ College and Friends of Soviet Russia, but a defence had been prepared in the form of a large crowd of workers, and it escaped with broken windows. Also attacked were the offices of the Workers’ Union of Ireland in Marlborough Street and the Irish Unemployed Workers’ Movement in North Great George’s Street.”

On a lighter note, notice the can of petrol left behind by the mob is ‘BP’, or British Petroleum. You couldn’t make it up.

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Last Thursday, as some readers may know, the three of us behind CHTM went to check out seminal hardcore band Propagandhi in The Village. I was granted an oppurtunity to have a few words with guitarist/ vocalist Chris Hannah. And I nice guy he was too, though not a Dub, he has family in “Cork County.”
Chris Hannah, Propagandhi

Chris Hannah, Propagandhi

It’s good to have you guys back in Dublin, you’ve been here three times in the last nine years and a lot has changed in that time, not least your music; In my opinion you’ve evolved and matured from your early days and I would say that’s definitely for the better- what would you say?

I would say thank you, and obviously we would too and I think all bands should evolve and mature really, otherwise somethings wrong.

But it’s always good to hear the old stuff?

Yeah, of course, and it’s easier to play too!

You guys added another guitarist in Beaver a couple of years back, has that made a big difference to the band?

Well, yes. As a three piece, we struggled to reproduce the songs live as they were on record; it was always mildly disappointing to hear it live-  all our records have two guitars, and sound more layered. So this has helped us to get something more accurate when we play live- When Beaver plays, it gives things a better sense of atmosphere.

You obviously knew him since his I-Spy days – Was there any other Canadian bands that had an influence on you guys?

Well, older bands like SNFU, Guilt Parade, Voivod, NoMeansNo, Sacrifice, Razor – Mainly bands that had their heyday in the 80s. Some of them, like Voivod and SNFU are still playing, and are staging a revival having made some of their most compelling music in the last five years, and that’s really inspiring for us, we’re getting fucking old now, two of us are hitting forty and we’re starting to feel it!

So as you get older then, are there any bands from Canada/ North America you see as taking the torch from you guys?

Well, Protest the Hero are really young guys, when they started, they told us that they had been really into our records, and that’s cool. Since then, they’ve obviously evolved so much and become such amazing musicians. Hardcore is only really being heard in small basement shows in Canada now, it’s hard to find anything that’s above the radar!

Punk rock bands can be two a penny these days – What keeps driving you guys to play the music you do?

Well, being able to play with friends is a huge thing, playing with guys I’ve been friends with for many years. I always had this sense of wonder – I remember being six or seven and my mom bought home this tape recorder, pressed record and played it back; I remember listening back to my voice with this sense of wonder, and that’s something that has stayed with me, I have it when I listen to our songs back through the speakers, and I guess when that dies…

Propagandhi

Propagandhi

I’m sure it must be an amazing feeling when you hear something you’ve put so much into back?

For us, because each of us, separately don’t have much going for us, together  we’re able to cobble together songs that remind us of bands that we really like so we’re always impressed!

I wouldn’t say that- For me, you guys are probably one of the more technically proficient Hardcore bands out there!

Well, thanks for saying so!

Todays Empires in probably still my favourite Propagandi album; so what’s yours?

Well, the new one, but I’ve got a soft spot for Potempkin because it sort of disappeared from the radar, nobody knew much about it!

Would you say that it disappeared off the radar because you guys left almost five years between Todays Empires and Potempkin?

Partly that and partly because at the time, we didn’t really do any promotion, we didn’t tour and let it sit there; the record company knew that and just didn’t bother telling anybody about the record and I think also at that time we were a three piece and something was missing, and something it took us almost a year to work it out, so when we realized, we were like… get Beaver over here!

 So would you say you are as political as you always have been? The new record comes across more personally reflective than overtly political…

More-so than ever I would say. There’s individual members who are more politically engaged back home, whether that’s in progressive community initiatives or supporting international solidarity movements, the only thing that’s changed for us is the sense of the scope and the scale of what’s wrong – We haven’t felt as if we’ve mellowed at all… As for the new record, well it’s just a different writing style.

How do the songs come about? Is it words or ideas or music first?

It’s just a big mish-mash really; sometimes it’s easier when you’re playing with friends… sometimes. But again, Beaver is the only guy with any training or musical background so it’s sometimes hard to communicate ideas.

You guys were a driving force behind G7, but you seem to have pulled back from that a bit now. Are there any other projects you guys are involved in back home?

Well, the reason I pulled back from the G7 thing was to do the band full time, and that’s taken up all of 2009, and actually most of 2008 too, so that’ll probably be it until next year. When we’re home, Jord does a lot of organising with the Canadian Haiti Action Network,  he does a lot of stuff in the Refugee Centre down town, Beaver is working on a music programme in a poor area of the city. Also OCAP (Ontario Coalition Against Poverty,) they’re a kick ass organisation.

Your music has always been political in its lyrics and has stayed pretty true to its punk and thrash origins. Punks aren’t necessarily political as we all know – Do you guys ever get stick from crowds for your political beliefs?

Not really; not much anymore. It seems like a lot of those people have been weeded out over the years and they don’t come to shows any more, like back in the nineties, a lot of people were quite aggressive to the things we were saying but thankfully, that died down towards the end of the nineties…

I don’t want to  dwell too much on the past and talk about the Fat Wreck days but do you think there were some bands who hung around that scene who have, effectively, sold out on the political aspect of their music in order to make a quick penny?

The idea of “selling out” is hard because there is a spectrum of compromises you have to make within the framework of a capitalist society, and ones that we have to make sometimes, although we might not like them, but some people have a different zone, where that changes from necessary compromise to a “Sell-Out.” Not everyone agrees with this, but take a band like Rage Against the Machine, they did something worthwhile with what they did with a major label; I don’t think it’s impossible to use ubiquitous media to a large degree and come out with a positive experience. But it’s not for us, none of us has the facility to engage with mass media- We’re just these guys, we’re not well spoken, we play songs that aren’t particularly well received by the general public. Even the things we talk about has the capacity to offend more peoples core values explicitly than say, Rage, so there’d be no point in moving to a bigger label, it’d just be the same people listening to us anyways!

Even moving to Small-Man Records after a very well received album, staying true to your political beliefs and still managing to get to places like Dublin, I have to say, is enheartening! So what’s the next step for Propagandhi?

Go home, get our heads together and start, as far as the band goes, putting together new material to record next year, politically, Jord has his work with the community stuff he’s doing, Beaver has the music programme, and I’ll try and help out somewhere!

So will it be another three years before the next album?

No, I’d hope in perhaps a year and a half…

Fingers crossed!

Yeah, here too!

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