Century of Endeavour

The C Desmond Greaves Journals

From November 1945 to December 1968

(c) Anthony Coughlan / Roy Johnston 2002

The copyright on the original Greaves Diaries resides with Anthony Coughlan, with whom right of access and permission to publish any extracts must currently be negotiated, prior to their eventual deposition in the National Library of Ireland. Copyright relating to these abstracts belongs also to Roy Johnston, any extracts from which must be cleared by both parties. As usual, I use italics where the text is primarily my comment, or my abstraction and analysis of a major chunk of CDG text. The commentary is of course exclusively mine and should not be taken as representing the views of Anthony Coughlan on the matters referred to.

Enquiries to RJ at rjtechne@iol.ie; Anthony Coughlan is contactable at his home address at 24 Crawford Avenue, Dublin 9, phone 00-353-1-8305792.

I am indebted to Anthony Coughlan for the opportunity of doing some analysis of the material in the Greaves journal, which he kept off and on from 1933 up to his decease in 1988; I have partially analysed what is available from 1945 up to the end, volumes 7 to 38. The full analysis awaits the Greaves biographer and/or some historian of the British or Irish Marxist intellectual tradition. I have concentrated on those entries where his thinking on Irish politics, and the politics of the Irish in Britain, is recorded.

What follows is an overview; the detail is in decade modules, referenced from here and from the decade political modules. Italics usually are my own added comment. I usually refer to Greaves by his initials CDG.

Volume 7

There were indications that the Connolly Association (CA) in 1945 was in effect a Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) offshoot, over which the Party had complete control at this time. Of course this was before the CA adopted the Constitution under which it still operates, long after the demise of the CPGB. This constitution, which was drafted by CDG, was adopted by the CA annual conference in 1955. Ten years before this, the CA must have in effect been a narrow sectarian body, judging by the Greaves counter-proposal seeking to change this situation, outlined below, abstracted from his journal entry dated December 7 1945:

"...I set out clearly what I thought to be the right course:

(i) to make our main object building a broad movement round the paper

(ii) to transform existing CA bodies into committees of the paper

(iii) to alter the character of the paper so that the Hugh Delargy group would participate in its production

(iv) to press our work among the Irish through the Party channels from the British side."

This episode sets the stage: CDG was seeking to develop a broad-based movement, with a real role for people like Delargy, in spite of a party political situation dominated by a perceived need for absolute top-down control.

CDG planned for the year 1946. He hoped to 'complete Irish book by December'; the political agenda included the International Affairs Committee, Irish and Dominions Committees...; recreation "theatre, less, except Irish". He also planned a trip to Ireland in March-April. In the end he got an invitation from John Ireland to come to Dublin in May, to address a meeting of the TCD Fabian Society.

Volume 8

CDG visited Dublin in May of 1946, where he addressed a meeting of the TCD Fabian Society, at the invitation of Paul Keating the Secretary; he was a cousin of Justin Keating and later made a distinguished career in the diplomatic service. He met with Beatrice Brown and John de Courcy Ireland, who were then active in the Labour Party. He encountered RN Tweedy in Carrickmines, an engineer interested in the potential for peat (he had been active in the Co-operative Union earlier, in JJ's time). Anne Peach his companion was active in the Irish-Soviet Friendship Society.

CDG mistakenly took the existence of this as an indication of an emerging Left consciousness, but in fact there was a kind of pro-British, ascendancy-fringe flavour; the Soviet Union was looked up to because they had helped Britain win the war.

Back in London CDG encountered Grove White, who advised him to apply for a job with the (Irish) Turf Board. He could have got this job; he was an expert in combustion technology. He could have evolved into an influential Marxist technocrat in the Irish environment. I suspect however that, being basically a botanist, who had re-trained during the war as an industrial chemist, he would have felt uncomfortable in the company of the Turf Board engineers.

In August 1946 he went on a lengthy cycle trip all round Ireland, staying in youth hostels and cheap hotels. When in Cork on September 10 he met Michael O'Riordan and was favourably impressed, though he did not record any details of their discussions. This was the year there was no summer; it rained and rained; the harvest dragged on well into September in sodden fields; volunteers went out from the towns to help; the yield was poor from the exhausted soil; there was actually a real threat of starvation. CDG in his diary mentioned in passing that one of the people he met was doing voluntary harvesting, but apparently had no appreciation of its significance, though he had interacted with farmers, one of whom was critical of the type of tractor being imported from Britain, and of the 'machinery pool' concept, where the farmers had misused them... "this Russian idea of community farming is no good". This however was not the problem; it had been generated by the Fianna Fail wheat policy in the 1930s, which had exhausted the soil, making the growing of wheat in the 1940s when it was strategically necessary all the more difficult. This had been analysed by JJ, in his 1937 Wheat paper, and subsequently in the Seanad, but CDG was not then aware of JJ's work.

Volume 9

Greaves revisited Dublin early in 1947, and our student group, the Promethean Society, encountered him. He saw in us the raw material for the leadership of an emergent Irish Left, and made arrangements for some of us to attend sessions in Marxist education in Britain. I have treated this in the 1940s module of the 'Political' thread; it is alas missing from the Journals. I place on record in that module also how he attempted in 1948 to make explicit the influence of the Communist Party of Great Britain on the process of formation of the Irish Workers' League, with somewhat negative effect. The 'communist' image in Ireland was dominated by the combination of the Stalinist forced collectivisation and the anti-religious policies of the then Soviet government, and Greaves at the time seriously underestimated these factors.

Greaves and the Lysenko Episode

February 19 1949: Alan Morton is in the next room, after opening the Engels Society's discussion on Lysenko. "Old Haldane is there calling everyone who does not agree with him ignorant. I only wish I had time to sail into these scientists myself."

This is a revealing entry. CDG around this time spoke to the student group in TCD on the Lysenko question, and it was quite clear that he had bought, and was trying to purvey, the Stalin line, which had been sold to Stalin by a time-serving agronomist Lysenko, who thought that a projected short cut to improved agricultural production, even if phony, was the road to preferment. The present writer attended the meeting; so did Justin Keating, who subsequently spoke to the TCD Fabian Society along similar lines.

The result of this episode was that genuine scientific research into genetics, the like of which has led to the elucidation of the role of DNA, had been in effect banned in the USSR. This held them back scientifically for decades. JBS Haldane saw through this at the time, and resigned from the Party. He had been on the Editorial Board of the Daily Worker. JD Bernal prevaricated, though his experimental technology, based on the X-ray analysis of large-molecule structures, transmitted through his student Rosalind Franklin (whom many consider was equally deserving of a Nobel Prize along with Watson and Crick), enabled Watson and Crick to elucidate the DNA structure. Greaves at this time clearly bought uncritically the Stalinist model for the interaction between science and the State. Insofar as the present writer, and indeed Justin Keating, were influenced in this direction for a time, it undoubtedly was due to Greaves's influence, rather than that of Bernal. The present writer's rejection of Stalinist orthodoxy, which took place in the late 1950s and matured in the early 1960s, undoubtedly contributed to his move towards political republicanism via the Wolfe Tone Society. I was however willing to accept the possibility of internal reform in the USSR, right up to Gorbachev-time, and persistently sought out Soviet scientific contacts, despite the barriers imposed by the Soviet bureaucracy.


In 1948 and 1949 he kept regularly in touch with the TCD students group, and monitored the development of the Irish Workers League as best he could. This period also is absent from his journals. I recollect however that the question of socialism and the priority of the struggle for national unity and independence kept coming up.

Greaves, while doing the foregoing, on some occasions acted as a scientific consultant to the Irish Government, on matters relating to fuel. In 1949 he gave a paper to the Coal Research Club in London which was received with acclaim. Shortly afterwards he gave up his job in Powell Duffryn.

For an expansion of the foregoing see my abstract of the 1940s Greaves journal.

Greaves in the 1950s

I give here some highlights from my abstract of the 1950s Greaves diaries. They cover his period living in Corraun (which is the peninsula next to Achill, to the south), his ongoing contacts with the present writer, Justin Keating, Cathal MacLiam and others in Ireland, the developing East European scene including the Hungarian crisis, and his attempts to keep alive his network of Irish Marxist contacts despite it, the Connolly Association leftist crisis, the unemployed movement in Ireland, and aspects of his Connolly researches. The decade concludes with Anthony Coughlan taking up a full-time job with the Connolly Association, and the present writer's emigration to London.

Volume 10

This volume of the Greaves journal is undated and reads like a retrospective account of his stay in a cottage in Curraun, which is the peninsula next to Achill, to the south. The journal was written up without dates. Internal evidence dates it to the spring of 1951.

I remember at the time picking up that it was his intention to isolate himself with the notes of his previous researches, with a view to drafting his book on the life and times of James Connolly. The Workers League had been set up, and it is possible that CDG was considering setting up in Ireland for good, to help build it up, and this was an exploratory visit. I distinctly recollect it being said, also, that he wanted to have residential status in Ireland so as to be able to participate in IWL events should the need arise. Cathal MacLiam additionally is of the opinion that this period in Ireland was used to help him fend off any attack on him as an 'Englishman' when speaking from Connolly Association platforms. He picked up much first-hand knowledge and insight into life in Ireland.

This volume of the Journal however indicates that he drew back from this step, in the end regarding the stay in Curraun as an extended vacation, time for reflection, and getting the measure of the size of the Connolly project, which did not mature until almost a decade later. There is little explicit politics, but many acute observations of life in the West of Ireland; this, I surmise, must have reinforced his growing belief that the simplistic 'class struggle' formulations of the CP in Britain were quite remote from the Irish reality.

The latter part of the journal lapses into pencil; he must have written up the whole thing, perhaps at one sitting, in Corraun, shortly before he left, and run out of ink. He concludes with the return to London: '...in the country of ill-temper, strain, food-poisoning, noise, snobs, degradation, decay...'.

It looks as if he was attempting to make his Curraun experience into something publishable, along the lines of his 1946 cycle tour of the West. It does not, to my mind, count as a 'political journal', though it has political insights. He must have reflected on the experience of having helped to found the IWL, come to the conclusion that it was unlikely to have a serious influence on the development of Irish politics, and come away with a deeper feel for the scale of the problem.

Volume 11

CDG takes up the journal again in November 1953, with Volume 11, which continues intermittently until August 1956. Key contacts during this time, apart from the present writer, were Justin Keating, Justin's mother May, Paul O'Higgins (then in his second period as a student, this time having abandoned medicine he studied law, and did well), David Jenkinson and others, the remains of the Promethean Society student group of the late 40s. In the background the Connolly Association was struggling to free itself from the dead hand of those of its own members who were ultra-leftist and perceived themselves as exercising control on behalf of the British Communist Party. This situation was eventually resolved when the CA adopted its new Constitution in 1955.

For example, on December 2 1953 on returning to London from a visit with Paul O'Higgins CDG had to deal with a situation where Flann Campbell in his absence had produced an Irish Democrat with Stalin on the front page: '...Flann has made a terrible mess of the December issue...'. I remember this; it was a prime example of how some CP members in the CA imposed their perception of the CPGB ethos on the Irish movement via the CA which they thought they owned, and CDG had to fight this all the time. According to MacLiam, the CA members refused to sell the paper, and stocks were piled high. He recollects refusing a request from the Catholic Standard for a copy of this issue, on grounds that it was sold out!

The first half of 1954 includes mentions of Justin Keating and Cathal MacLiam, addressing a debating society in Nottingham on the Partition of Ireland, Leslie Daiken and the London scene, and the emergence of a leftist element, which had joined the CPGB and retained links with the Irish Workers' League, disrupting the Connolly Association North London Branch. There is then a long gap until in July 1954 Cathal MacLiam went back to Dublin, where he worked as a gardener for May Keating, to avoid conscription, returning later to Glasgow under an assumed name (CMacL). There are echoes in CDG's Journal of the Catholic Standard and its McCarthyite witch-hunt of suspected Dublin communists, personalised and with addresses, including the present writer. They complained about the likes of me studying cosmic rays at public expense. (I was actually quite unaware of this at the time, as regards myself, but was aware of it in the cases of others.)

There is a further long gap until March 1956 when CDG recorded Cathal MacLiam marrying Helga (the event had actually taken place on July 2 1955). On April 17 he went to Waterford with his bicycle; in Cork he met Jim Regan, Norman Letchford, Cal O'Herlihy; then on up to Dublin; he stayed with Justin Keating, the present writer it seems being in Kerry, on vacation in a cottage owned by my sister. After a further London entry on July 17 this volume ceases.

Volume 12

CDG took up his journal again in September 1956, when staying in the present writer's then house on Beach Road Sandymount. He had come over again on the trail of Connolly contacts. It is for his biographer to elaborate on this. In what follows I note any points which seem to me to help with understanding the development of the Left in Ireland in the 'black 50s', and its relationship with the Left in Britain.

He enlisted my help to try to get a job for Cathal MacLiam, who had become proficient as an electronics technician, having served his time with JD Bernal's physics laboratory, building on his earlier University College Galway experience. The political background was one of total resistance on the part of the Irish Workers' League (IWL) to give any consideration whatever to the importance of Partition in holding back the economic and political development of the country. Justin Keating, who had returned to Dublin from London with this on his agenda, they had frozen out, MacLiam likewise.

IWL emigrants were behind the ultra-leftist disruption of the Connolly Association, '...making their attacks largely in order to avoid the necessity of doing anything..'. They were fortified by the presence of Neil Goold, an ultra-left activist with Donegal Ascendancy background of whom CDG gave a somewhat uncomplimentary biographical sketch; it seems that his '...wild exploits as a propagandist for the peculiarly inflexible brand of leftism he had evolved would fill a book... He lived in the slums to be "near the workers", wore old clothes, trousers tied with string....regarded Kruschev's denunciation of Stalin as a counter-revolution..'.

Later in 1956 CDG had an encounter with Peadar O'Donnell, who promoted the idea of disbanding the movement (ie the IWL and the CPNI) in Ireland and concentrating on a broad-based paper to be edited from Belfast. He also wanted to disband the CA and get the Irish simply to join trade unions. He had in mind Anthony Cronin, then with him on the Bell, as editor.

The meeting bristled with antagonism. CDG '..at this time regarded Peadar O'Donnell as Fianna Fail's unofficial voluntary ambassador at large..', he could '...feel the chill of his concealed antagonism. When he sat down he began "Things are bad in Eastern Europe. Face the fact. There was a revolution in those countries and the people did not make it." But this was not his subject. "I'm going to write a book Connolly in Irish History". I told him about mine and it was immediately apparent he already knew. He enquired about Connolly's birthplace, which regiment of the British Army he was in... a regular cross-examination..'.

Greaves and Hungary

Greaves had already begun to get the measure of the Eastern European scene in the context of the Cominform analysis of Yugoslavia, and the CBGB reaction to EP Thompson and the New Reasoner. On November 13 1956 CDG attended a Central London meeting of the Communist Party, on the topic of the invasion of Hungary by the USSR. The extent of the disaster was rapidly becoming apparent. The next day he discussed it with Pat Clancy, who was in despair: '...set us back generations.. war inevitable... little hope remains..' (according to MacLiam, Clancy was a born pessimist). The occasion was one of mass walk-out by Party intellectuals. Subsequent entries record build-up of anti-communist hysteria in Hyde Park. On the 20th CDG noted that Flann Campbell has resigned from the Party.

On November 29 1956 CDG arrived in Belfast, on a post-Hungary damage-limitation exercise, and was met by Jack Bennett, a Belfast progressive journalist working on the Belfast Telegraph and acting as Irish Democrat Belfast correspondent. There were mentions of Peadar O'Donnell and Anthony Cronin; the latter had been to Russia with an Irish group at Peadar's instigation, and had written it up for the Irish Times. The commentary in the CDG Journal touches on MacBride, Larkin, Sean Murray, the Linen Hall, Brendan Behan, Tom Johnson...

Then on December 2 he went to Dublin, where he encountered Cathal, Justin, the present writer, Nolan, O'Riordan, Jeffares, Mulready; there was much talk of the Eastern European scene; then he went round the country, meeting with groups in Waterford (Peter and Biddy O'Connor, Jim Duggan, Gabriel and Mrs Lalor) and Cork (Jim O'Regan, Cal O'Herlihy, Mrs O'Shea, Con O'Lyhan, Norman Letchford, Donal and Maire Sheehan), attempting to hold together some sort of critical Marxist analysis of the current Irish situation, despite what went on in Hungary. There is, alas, no precise record about what this analysis was, but I remember him pacing up and down in our house in Sandymount, delivering what must have been a dry run for his position statement, which depended on a virtual historical analogy, and it ran something like this:

"Imagine that a socialist Britain had been in a war with the capitalist US, and had driven the US out of Ireland, installing a government in Ireland composed of the current IWL leadership. Imagine that the Irish people had risen against this imposed government, with US aid, and that the British had again intervened to suppress the rising, and installed another imposed government, this time selecting their people a bit better. Which side would we be on?" One can indeed see the difficulty of the position of the Left!

The journal continues into 1957 with records of ongoing tension between the IWL, the CPNI and the CA, and an emerging threat of competition between the Irish Workers' Voice (the IWL paper) and the Irish Democrat in the emigrant market. Subsequent to the aftermath of the Hungarian affair however; on February 4 1957 CDG received a phone-call from Idris Cox of the CPGB; Sean Nolan was in London and wanted to see him. CDG gave him lunch, and some whiskey left over from Xmas. It seems that the Irish Workers Voice had folded up. CDG: '...They had made no statement on Hungary. They had made no statement on the IRA and if they had they would have been critical. The problem now was whether it would be possible to preserve the bookshop. Six months would tell...'. It was proposed to encourage the ex-IWL emigres to collect money. CDG remained neutral.

Then on February 15 CDG recorded that the present writer looked in, having been to Bristol and Harwell on DIAS business, and decided to make an opportunistic visit to London. I filled him in on the unemployed movement; Sam Nolan was the leading figure. CDG records, as picked up from me: '...That two-faced scoundrel Peadar O'Donnell is intriguing with them.... he received a deputation from them in the Shelbourne, and advised them to confine their demands to that for "work", and put up a candidate in Dublin South Central, where Sinn Fein might rob FF of votes.... The lads demurred. Where was the money to come from? Peadar assured them that the money would be available...'. CDG immediately pounced on this: it must have come from Fianna Fail.

It is moreover noteworthy that it was even then FF practice to put up money for movements which were alternatives to the development of a Marxist political Left. We have, perhaps, a pre-view of the way Fianna Fail in the 1960s reacted to the threat of a politicising left-republican movement, as outlined by Justin O'Brien in his book 'The Arms Trial'.

On April 16 1957 there is in the CDG Journal a long entry assessing the roles of the various people involved in the leftist take-over of the CA North London Branch; Pat O'Neill, Jim Prendergast and others. There is talk of a Peadar O'Donnell intrigue to turn Sean Murray in Belfast and Johnny Nolan in Dublin against the CA over the years. The demand was to distribute the Irish Workers Voice instead of the Irish Democrat in London. This was indeed a nadir-period for the Left, dominated as it was by the post-Hungary reaction. On April 22 there is a further long entry in which CDG recorded his impressions of the CP Congress in Hammersmith Town Hall. The analysis of this is for another context. At the end of this entry is a reference to an encounter with Gerry Curran, who has the news that Sean Mulready has been accusing CDG of having a 'friendly attitude' to the IRA. It seems the present writer had been told something similar by George Jeffares. Mulready wants the Irish in Britain just to become trade unionists; he is going to live in Birmingham.

The hostility of the Left in Ireland to any consideration of the national question and partition has clearly begun to influence CDG in the direction of considering the feasibility of the path subsequently taken by the present writer. At this stage it is only a hint, but it perhaps sets the stage for RJ's 1960s evolution.

The foregoing conclusion was confirmed in a series of encounters, in May and June 1957, when Cyril Murray, an IWL member with a Belfast nationalist background, attempted to set up meetings, initially with IWL leadership, and later with the membership in full, at which the debate on 'the Left and the national question' might have been opened up. These proved abortive, though CDG subsequently met with Sean Nolan and found him 'affable'. In the meantime the unemployed movement was successfully aborted by the intervention of Archbishop McQuaid.

Volume 13

Continuing with Volume 13, the story is taken up on August 28 1960: CDG was in Dungannon, after a session with Jack Bennett in Belfast, and one with Sean Caughey the Sinn Fein political activist, looking into the question of civil rights and the release of the prisoners. He referred to Caughey's Council for Civil Liberties '...founding its tactics on the methods of "pressure grouping" adopted by the CA...' He noted the change in three years. His Connolly book was now set in type and he was beginning his work on Mellows. It seems I had earlier helped him with transport to find Mellows relatives.

He cycled on to Omagh and then on to Donegal. Then on August 30 he cycled to Tubbercurry and called on Pat Durcan.....It seemed Durcan was '..undismayed by the Hungarian events..'; (these it seems were still at the top of CDG's consciousness). After making it to Galway on September 1, CDG finally ended up in Dublin, where he met with Brian Farrington and the present writer, and a Marxist analysis of the role of Yeats began to take shape, which subsequently led to a publication by Brian Farrington, surfacing in the lead-up to the 1966 celebration of 1916.

Greaves in the early 1960s.

I continue with the highlights of my abstracts of the Greaves journals in the first half of the 1960s.

In January 1961 CDG recorded receiving a letter from Stockholm: '...from HB Eller who has disposed of his business and gone home. He must be about 75... a very likable old man. He is worried about the disposal of the library of the Peat Society, some 1000 key surveys, and specimens, and has been in touch with Bernal and Edgar Young about it. I therefore wrote to Bernal, and Young, and also to Frank Mitchell, now Provost of TCD, and to Justin Keating, finally writing to Eller telling him what I had done. He is a genuine enthusiast for turf development...'.

This indicates that CDG had kept alive his feel for the importance of scientific technology in the context of Irish economic development. According to MacLiam, he kept up his subscriptions to scientific journals. He had been in contact with Mitchell in the late 1940s, in a consultant capacity, but because he had given up his work as a fuel technologist and industrial chemist, he had lost touch with the likes of Mitchell, who was not Provost of TCD; McConnell was, but Mitchell was influential as Registrar; he was working at the time with JJ on the Townley Hall agricultural research project. Mitchell was indeed a world-renowned peat expert, mostly from the angle of how to date it, for which work he subsequently became an FRS. It is a pity that in this domain CDG allowed himself totally to drop out.

Thus ends Volume 13 of the Greaves Journal, after some notes on a January 1961 visit to Dublin, mostly in the National Library, on the Liam Mellows trail. There is a hiatus, and Volume 14 takes up from November 1 1962 and continues until March 31 1964.

Volume 14

CDG spent from November 1 to 9 1962 in Belfast. The context was his perceived need for an analysis of, and response to, the Barritt and Carter book, The Northern Ireland Problem, to which he was writing a reply, which was published in due course as The Irish Crisis. He encountered Jack Bennett, Billy McCullough, Betty Sinclair, Hugh Moore, Bill Graham; these initial contacts are all CPNI. There was a discussion in the Trades Council office: was NI subsidised? The nationalists say yes, the Unionists say no. CDG leaned heavily on the evidence picked up earlier from Joe Johnston, to the effect that the agricultural subsidies are worth £30M. The Isles and Cuthbert Report cast no light on the issue.

He went on to encounter Art McMillan, Billy Blease, Rev Megahy, Cahir Healy and others; he cycled to Coalisland to see May O'Donnell. Cal O'Herlihy had taken up a post in QUB as an economics lecturer, and he conveyed this to Betty. He talked to Caughey who wanted a 'National Liberation Council' composed of various organisations, but CDG countered with an NCCL-style proposal for a conference on the franchise; Caughey however was not convinced.

Then in London on December 11 1962 there was in prospect a debate on the Barritt-Carter report; Carter refused to debate in person, and put up Norman Gibson instead. CDG: '...I said I had no desire to debate with Mr Gibson whom I had never heard of... Carter has left Barritt to face the music in Belfast... and he is getting a rough time, climbing down and apologising for all his mis-statements..'.

Gibson was then a rising young economist who was putting feelers out in the direction of the Republic; I had encountered him at a Tuairim conference in Greystones, in or about 1959 or 1960, which was considering the implications of the Whitaker Programme and the (then innovatory) orientation of industry in the Republic towards exports. CDG was, in my opinion, quite wrong to underestimate him; I had certainly heard of him; I was in contact with the CA; CDG never thought to ask me. Any interest shown by economists in the North in the economics of Ireland as a whole should have been welcomed.

There was however a mention on February 4 1963 of the present writer and his understanding of economics, in contrast to Cal O'Herlihy who was slipping visibly into bourgeois economics preparatory to taking up his post in QUB: '..it was quite interesting that RHWJ, not a professional economist, was much more at home in the economics of neo-colonialism...'.

During this time CDG was working quietly to get the nationalists and republicans to talk with the Belfast Trades Council on topics relating to the objectives of the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL). This was the embryo of the thinking which led to the broad-based Civil Rights movement. The issue had earlier been identified as Civil Rights related, and the Connolly Association had organised three 'long marches' across England, encountering and activating a series of Irish emigrant communities. The third one, from Liverpool to London, ended in a rally in Trafalgar Square for Civil Rights and a United Ireland in the summer of 1962. I found no reference to this episode in CDG's Diary, perhaps because while 'on the march' he had put it aside.

On August 1 1963 CDG had a revealing entry relating to the present writer: '...Roy goes back to Ireland on Tuesday to take up his post with Aer Lingus. He wants to talk to everybody about his "role" there. But he is incapable of pursuing single-mindedly a political course of action, let alone originating one. So I made no suggestions. And in any conflict between his duty and his interests or convenience, his interests or convenience are bound to win. Still he is not the worst....' On the previous day he had recorded something of the problem we had getting back into our own house, currently occupied by Jim Fitzgerald and family upstairs and Anthony Coughlan down below. Certain rearrangements would obviously be necessary, and money was involved. In this context he interpreted my concern with the financial side of things as being 'miserly'.

The foregoing says something about CDG's judgment of people, and his confidence in their ability to grasp his strategies. The Civil Rights approach within the NI situation was in gestation, and he had already set up the contacts. Yet he chose not to tell me anything about it, in a farewell briefing, which I had asked for. If he had briefed me, it is quite possible that the Wolfe Tone Society in Dublin would have been able to help this process along earlier, with its Belfast contacts, which included Jack Bennett, and, later, people like Alec Foster, Michael Dolley and John D Stewart, and indeed Kader Asmal in Dublin. But he seemed to be dismissive of the potential of all-Ireland intellectual democratic networking, preferring to remain in the undergrowth of the CPNI and the IWL, despite his low opinion of their leading personnel. He expected all intellectuals to go the road taken by Cal O'Herlihy and Justin Keating, and he automatically wrote them off.

Later in Dublin on November 11 1963 CDG lunched with Anthony Coughlan who regaled him with the latest RJ news: it seems that I had '...become somewhat disillusioned with political life in Dublin, which was to be so glorious when he first came here. And whereas then he was an uncritical admirer of the IWL, now he gives them less than their due and mixes mostly with Labour Party people...'.

AC got it wrong. For some time I had been anything but an 'uncritical admirer' of the IWL and had been since the 1950s seeking for a broader base while keeping to principle. My wife Mairin was however at this time taken up with the Labour Party; she helped to build the branch in the north city which got Michael O'Leary elected. I was an observer on the fringe of this process. This suggests caution when interpreting the Greaves record; CDG met people individually and tended to soak up gossip.

Then on January 26 1964 we have references to the Movement for Colonial Freedom conference, and Fenner Brockway's Bill of Rights; this was attended by a delegation of Nationalists who stayed at the Irish Club; the Connolly Association had been instrumental in getting them to come, where the Irish Embassy had been trying for years and failed. The following April CDG visited Dublin, meeting the 'usual suspects' as well as various contacts on the Mellows trail. He again recorded increasing tension between the Irish Workers' League and the Connolly Association, rooted in the activities of some of the IWL emigrants in the company of disruptive ultra-left elements.

These issues remained unresolved, being muddied by the theoretical confusion of the international movement, with Trotskyite and Chinese factors emerging to undermine the high church of post-Stalinist CP orthodoxy. The CA had to try to keep its dedicated analysis of the Irish situation insulated from these confusing cross-currents in the Left.

Volume 15

On April 22 1964 CDG attended an anti-apartheid meeting in the Mansion House, where he was impressed by the contribution of Barry Desmond (whom he noted as Anthony Coughlan's friend). He commented '...the Labour Party would never dream of holding a meeting to protest against apartheid in Northern Ireland...'. Others present included Micheal O'Riordan, Justin and Loretta Keating and Justin's mother May, Johnny Nolan, Frank Edwards and Michael O'Leary. Anthony Coughlan (AC) must have been there because in the context of a post-meeting drink, in the company of Mairin and others (it seems I was due back from the USA on the following Saturday), he noted that '..AC told me an interesting thing told him in Dublin, namely that Martin Ennals came back from the six counties two years ago with material completely condemning the six-county government (as indeed we knew he did) but was prevented from publishing it on the intervention of Transport House as embarrassing to the Labour Party..'.

In June he met the McCluskey's in Dungannon, seeking to get their Social Justice publications distributed in Britain. He welcomed Austin Currie's nomination for East Tyrone. Then after a spell on the Mellows trail in the west he ended up in Dublin , encountering Sceim na gCeardcumainn, of which he was critical, regarding it as introducing 'Irish Irelandism' into the trade union movement. Anthony Coughlan had been writing speeches for Micheal O'Leary and Barry Desmond, but CDG regarded him as being '...most capable at politics and too honest for them...'.

Then on July 31 1964 there was an entry which was again somewhat revealing of the weakness of CDG's judgement of people: he had a call from Joy Rudd ('Miss Rudd') a member of Tuairim, to ask about catering workers. She '...revealed to (CDG's) surprise that she is in the Labour party and is helping Lena Jaeger..'.

CDG usually discounted the roles of women, and likewise that of Tuairim London, and never thought any good could come of the latter, despite its potential for enabling emigre intellectuals to preserve a sense of Irishness; whence his surprise at Joy Rudd, who subsequently returned to Ireland and was a stalwart supporter of the mid-60s politicising Sinn Fein and then later of the Labour Party. MacLiam however defends Greaves in this context, recalling when young being alerted by him to the rights and needs of women.

The same entry has a pejorative reference to one Egan who '...came in representing some high-titled Northern Ireland Civil Rights Society... half a dozen... students wanting to make their names... and a few pounds for an article in the Observer..'.

This must have been Bowes Egan, who subsequently with Michael Farrell was associated with the Peoples Democracy group in Queens. One has to ask, with hindsight, was CDG not unduly dismissive of the emergence of an interest in Civil Rights among Queens students? Could this trend not have been welcomed and cultivated, turning it in a positive direction? An early introduction to acceptable proceedings at meetings would perhaps have nipped in the bud the anarchist PD procedures.

On September 17 1964 CDG noted that Mike Cooley wanted to start up a CA branch in Slough, where Fenner Brockway has a very slender majority.

Cooley, an engineer from Tuam, subsequently became a leading light in the movement to make science and technology serve the people, which was triggered in the context of the closure of the military aircraft factory where he worked. He later served as Technical Director of the Greater London Enterprise Board in the 1980s, a GLC initiative of Ken Livingstone's which survived the Thatcher demolitions.

Later on September 21 CDG recorded that the Labour agent had not contacted Cooley and that some Irish Labour councillors in Slough were afraid of the CA establishing itself there.

This must have been basic anti-communist suspicion; the earlier close association between the CA and the CP, and the current overlapping membership among key people, had generated a legacy which CDG was doing his best to dissipate. Indeed, the inconsistent policy on Ireland within the CPGB continued to put obstacles in the way of the CA's attempts to broaden its base and to make the Labour Movement in Britain aware of the importance of Northern Ireland.

In Dublin on November 6 1964 he had lunch with the present writer, whom he assessed as '...poking his head into everything, making contacts here there and everywhere, but as unsettled as ever, thinking of alternative jobs, and is his father's son every way possible... grandiose research schemes.. I told him he would never complete anything...'. Later CDG encountered an anti-apartheid poster parade, led by Kader Asmal, supported by Anthony Coughlan, Barry Desmond and others. In the evening he met the present writer, Asmal and others, including Ethna MacManus, whom he assessed (unusually for a woman) positively, as a '...likeable and intelligent woman ...a firm believer in the small farmer of the west and strongly allied with O'Donnell...'

Ethna, who later married Michael Viney the Irish Times journalist and active environmentalist, at the time was one of my 'contacts' among whom were beginning to take shape strategies for the development of political left-republicanism; she had been associated with co-operative developments in Killala, and had standing with the republicans, having provided a 'safe house' during the 1950s. She was however far from being an ally of Peadar O'Donnell, whose work with Father McDyer in the 'defence of the west' she regarded as paternalistic and 'top-down'. She had been attempting to work 'bottom up', organising from the grass-roots, in association with politicising republicans, and had had modest success.

In December 1964 CDG picked up news from the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis, in the Bricklayers' Hall, to the effect that the present writer had been invited as an 'honoured guest' to speak on a motion supporting co-operation with other organisations, which could be interpreted as including the Connolly Association. He began from this time onwards to take the emergence of broad-based left-republicanism seriously, and for a time there were fewer disparaging remarks about the present writer.

CDG subsequently had lunch with the present writer; the penultimate paragraph in the December 7 entry is worth quoting in full: '...(RHWJ) said Cathal Goulding has gone to London to investigate the dispute over the demonstration which happened during the election, and that having heard I was in Dublin expressed a desire to see me. He is Cathal (MacLiam)'s first cousin so I suggested to Cathal we might invite him up. Taking all in all, things are progressing here "as well as can be expected". The younger people with the Connolly Association experience are becoming personally acceptable to the Republicans, and after Monday's meeting RHWJ and Sean Cronin went off to AC's flat which the young Labour hero Michael O'Leary is sharing, and so all heads clarify each other by mutual interaction...'.

Then on December 10, Cathal Goulding (CG) arrived at MacLiam's, and CDG had the pleasure of introducing him to the cousin he has never met. CG had been supportive of the projected joint Clann na h-Eireann / Connolly Association demonstration; he wanted to keep the door to co-operation open. '...He said he and his colleagues were thinking in broader political terms than in the past. He struck me as a shrewd experienced revolutionary, but without much basic political knowledge... without a grasp of the laws of social evolution. The interesting thing is that he is prepared to support political action on matters of common concern. But like O'Riordan he appears to believe developments in Britain can be directed from Dublin...'.

Thus at the end of 1964, with the present writer back in Dublin for over a year, there are many positive signs of constructive political convergence, and CDG is coming round to regarding Cathal MacLiam and myself as his primary empathetic contacts when in Dublin, with the role of AC being peripheral. We shall see how this evolves as the situation develops.

Volume 16

The year 1965 opened with a meeting of the CPGB International Affairs Committee (which CDG had explicitly represented back in 1948 at the foundation of the Irish Workers' League, with the negative effects already noted). This body CDG assessed as paying lip service to the 'broad movement' while in practice undermining it by their open support of leftist elements associated with the IWL who were in fact disrupting it. Towards the end of January the question arose of CDG's attendance at the CPNI conference in Belfast; the latter had welcomed the Lemass-O'Neill talks, while the IWL regarded them as 'capitulation'.

The conference of the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), to which the Connolly Association was affiliated, was planned for April 23 1965. It was necessary to book the larger Conway Hall in London because UTV was taking an interest, and there was considerable cross-community attention from Northern Ireland, with Betty Sinclair, Con McCluskey, Sean Caughey and Austin Currie all contributing. Caughey however did not agree to meet with the CA people on anti-communist grounds.

The overall result however was positive and a significant step in the direction of achieving a cross-community civil rights movement in NI, and of breaking down the barriers between the 'catholic nationalist' tradition and that of Marxist-democracy.

After a period on the Mellows trail CDG had lunch with RJ on April 2 1965; I regaled him with the intention on the part of Sinn Fein to try to set up a Civil Rights organisation in the 26 Counties to address the question of the Offences Against the State Acts.

Note that the situation here was conceived in 26-county terms; there was no visible NI dimension at this point of time, apart from what had been developing via the NCCL, as outlined above. Note also that there was no awareness of this at the level of the SF Ard Comhairle, but that at this time the 'conference of republicans', under Goulding's influence, was in process of preparing a document for the June 1965 Special Ard Fheis, which would begin to put issues like this on the SF agenda. CDG went back in London on April 5.

Then on April 23 1965 at the the NCCL conference Sean Redmond pushed CA motions, with support from London Trades Councils where Irish trade unionists had been active politically. The target was to get a public enquiry into the working of the Government of Ireland Act. The details of the CDG treatment of this event deserve analysis in depth, perhaps in the context of a CA history.

The next day in the evening the CA office had a visit from Scotland Yard; there had been a bomb at the Irish embassy, and they were looking for one John Read, whom they suspected, and whose name had been appended to an appeal to picket the Ulster Office, and who had given the address of the CA office. There had been some ultra-left or pseudo-left squatters in the building some days earlier. This would suggest the work of the British dirty tricks department, seeking to discredit the CA with the Irish, even at this early stage of the development of a democratic political approach to the NI situation.

There took place on May 8 1965 what CDG described as a 'historic event' in the Belfast ATGWU hall: '...there were about a hundred present.... these included all political parties but Unionists and Nationalists. H(ughie) M(oore), Jim Stewart and Sean Morrissey were there. Caughey, Mulholland and a young, red-headed very Sinn-Fein-looking lad called Gardiner for the Republicans. Duffy... represented the "National Party", Cllr Allen the NILP, but Fitt and Hanna's people were absent. Very many Unions were there. It was interesting to hear the Catholic delegates of the ITGWU getting up explaining discrimination to Protestants who were listening for the first time. There was unfortunately no declaration against discrimination from a Protestant as such - though there were several speeches that assumed that attitude - and the strongest speeches came from people who described themselves as atheists, some from one side, others from the other. The republicans of course could not resist using the platform, and Sean Morrissey visibly squirmed, such is the duality of his position as an ex-republican. I had a talk with Andy Barr and HM afterwards, and all agree it was a historic event, the fact that there was here a meeting of Protestant and Catholic workers under the auspices of the labour movement directed to democratising the State...'

CDG subsequently held that this should have been the seed-bed for further developments, and that the NICRA as it emerged from the War Memorial Hall meeting in 1966 was doomed to disaster due to its failure to develop organic links with the labour movement, and to the fact that two years were to pass before NICRA got going, during which Paisley got more wind behind his sails and the republicans had got more impatient. The initiative to set up the NICRA came via the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society, basically from Anthony Coughlan. It did not follow organically from the above May 6 1965 meeting.

We are here in the presence of one of history's fortuitous events, in that CDG in the following months became increasingly concerned with his sister Phyllis's fatal illness. Had he been pursuing his normal priorities he would undoubtedly have been cultivating the opportunities opened up by this meeting, so that the War Memorial Hall initiative, which came from AC via the WTS in Dublin, would have not seemed necessary. The NICRA or its equivalent would perhaps have emerged with a stronger trade union basis. The politicising republicans would have supported this, without being able to project a sense of 'ownership', as subsequently happened with the NICRA, to the detriment of the latter.

From May 9 to May 19 CDG was in Dublin. He took up with Sean Nolan the role of the IWL emigres in London, met with Seamus O Tuathail who later became United Irishman editor, and spent time with Anthony Coughlan trying to find ways of influencing the Labour Party towards Civil Rights in the North. He encountered several people on the republican network, but Goulding was elusive, the Special Convention being on. Caughey it seems had objected to the social and economic programme which I had drafted, and insisted it be shown to the Catholic Church for approval, which it seems took place, and they found nothing wrong with it. The SF people were however very dissatisfied with Caughey, but they had, effectively, no-one else in the North fit to be a political spokesman.

Thus in May 1965 we had CDG in Dublin, primarily on the Mellows trail but also actively engaged in meeting with and assessing the rising generation of politicising left-republicans.

CDG noted an encounter with Cathal Goulding (CG) who thought highly of Denis Foley the then United Irishman editor, and also of Tadhg Egan.... The next day he encountered Tony Meade, who '...plunged into the difficulties facing republicans... at first he had been very opposed to the CA and communism until our campaign to release the prisoners...', then, later '...even going into Leinster House, let alone disbanding the IRA... would strain the old faithfuls beyond breaking point...'. He was however thinking in terms of '...how much money could the CA send the IRA..'. CDG of course replied that they would not want to. They discussed '..political training abroad..'; CDG didn't think much of this. TM felt he and his colleagues were prisoners of history, and the historic door has not yet opened to let them out.

Back in London from May 20 CDG found himself struggling again with ultra-left disruption, this time from Trotskyist splinter-groups, though some carrying CPGB cards, and expecting to be let in to private CA events on foot of them. CDG found time however to note Brian Farrington's Yeats Centenary Lecture on June 22 1965, which was also picketed by ultra-left hoodlums. In August he got feedback from Sean Redmond who had attended the Murlough commemoration of Casement along with RJ: '...Roy thinks that he is leading and educating the republicans while in reality they are availing of his willing services. Still both are pleased...' Anthony Coughlan spent his vacation in London with the CA; CDG regarded this as imposing on him (CDG) the need to find something for him (AC) to do: '...he has become excessively academic, and more vague and impractical than ever I remember him.... The early adventurousness is gone. Yet he comes over every year here for a month, which is more than most would do...'

Then on August 11 in a further encounter with Sean Redmond CDG noted: '...RHJ is deep in his republican propaganda, but apparently it does not affect his relations with Nolan who could be forgiven for thinking he could be doing more for the IWP. It seems to SR that the swing to the Left is real, but like me he wondered what direction they will turn to in the end. They say "yes, yes, yes" but do the other...'.

I must comment here that there began to creep into the CDG record a perception that I was somehow trying to 'ride two horses' with dual membership. This was never the case. I did not re-join the IWL on my return to Ireland. I remained independent, joined the Wolfe Tone Society, and then later Sinn Fein. I did however remain on friendly terms with Sean Nolan and the IWL people, and I tried to foster contacts, with a view, eventually, to achieving some sort of left-republican integration into a unified movement, as soon as the republican constitution had been adapted to make this feasible, and to provide an environment in which the IWL members would feel comfortable. I was convinced that the IWL as such, even if united with the CPNI, and in communion with the 'world movement as it then was', had no future; the limiting factor was the dead hand of Stalinism, as still remained in the post-Stalinist orthodoxy. There had been a precedent in that the movement founded by Castro on a broad democratic-revolutionary base had in effect become Marxist and had absorbed the old narrow Cuban Communist Party.

His last visit to Dublin before the extended hiatus due to the death of his sister was basically on the Mellows trail, and was from September 1 to 14, when we all helped to get him back to Liverpool in the emergency; I got him a flight. Some of his comments during this period are worth highlighting; discussing RHWJ with CMacL CDG remarked on the ambiguity of status: socialist or republican? Then on September 3 CDG and RJ had lunch: '...he is very active and enthusiastic about what he is doing... a convert's enthusiasm... he took fish - a few years ago he would have paraded his Protestantism by ordering a steak... He is going to the Bankers Association over the weekend. I suggested he try to find out what Lemass hopes to gain from the trade treaty, as that should not be considered an inevitable non-entity. He asked me what was behind the Irish peers' demand for their seats. The desire to be paid for sitting, I said, no doubt tried on when there was talk of closer relations...'. Then, later, observing a Housing Action demonstration, he gets talking to some of the young Sinn Fein activists, and remarks that '...the sectishness of the sea-green incorruptibles has to be seen to be believed..'.

Volume 17

This extended from November 1 1965 to May 31 1966 and was mostly devoted to his time in Liverpool caring for his sister who was ill with cancer, but he did manage a spell in Dublin, during a period when his sister seemed to be on the mend. He managed to put on record some views on the developing Irish situation, from this visit and by correspondence.

In a visit to Dublin on November 25 1965 CDG recorded a meeting with RHWJ over lunch; I was said to be in a state of enthusiasm '..over his co-operative pool and other activities, all of which will do some good... I was quite pleased, even if I do not have his expectations. Ethna MacManus and Viney, whom she married, are busy on Comhar Linn. The Minister for Agriculture is for it, the Minister for Finance is against it. Incidentally I guessed this, and was right, which means I am not too badly out of touch. McDyer is somewhat ostracised. But for all that co-operative ideas are taking on. At the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis a motion referring to penetration by mysterious left-wingers was withdrawn...'.

CDG was prepared to be supportive of my interest in this direction, regarding it as perhaps a good counter to the traditional republican 'stunt' culture, and a step in the direction of learning about the organisation of civil society. In hindsight, my perception at the time was indeed over-optimistic, and developments in this direction were rapidly overwhelmed by the developing Northern situation, as we shall see.

Then again on December 7 CDG had lunch with RHWJ; the substantive news which apparently on this occasion I passed on to CDG was that Peadar O'Donnell's Mayo meeting had '..only 40 present.. bishops, priests and the Catholic quality (with General Costello prominent)... the ordinary people have grown quite cynical over these schemes... Viney who tried to work with him was asked to forward a list of republicans and the impression was given that Peadar would try to secure their election to the "Defence of the West" committees. Instead, Peadar blackballed them..'.

I remember this episode well; in retrospect Peadar could perhaps be forgiven for being suspicious of republican credentials, given their elitist and stunt-oriented political culture, but the Mayo people concerned had actually successfully made the transition into good democratic procedures via the experience of the co-operative movement, and he was blackballing people who might actually have given Defence of the West an edge, and made it work. The generation gap between Peadar and the post-50s republican politicisers was alas too wide.

Then on December 9 1965 CDG '...went to the Wolfe Tone Society meeting in the dank cold Bricklayers Hall. Mac Giolla of Sinn Fein was speaking, with Michael O'Leary, and others who were also Republicans.... After it was over I went with Cathal (who had come from another meeting) for a drink with Sam Nolan, Packy Early and other IWP supporters. Roy was with the SFs in the other bar, but the "ewige student" whose name I have forgotten (Daithi O Bruadair, according to MacLiam) drifted between the two, announcing that the car containing the Special Branch men was now at this door, now at that. Sam Nolan said he never saw any IWL man who emigrated come to anything.'

The next day, December 10 '...Roy says that there is no truth in the six-county rumour that a further disturbance is to be expected. He says "if the IRA didn't exist, the six-county government would have to invent it".' These rumours originated with the RUC; they apparently were taken seriously by the British Government, according to Peter Rose.

CDG went with Cathal to an IWP party in Pembroke Lane on December 18 1965 at which Micheal O Riordan said he regarded RHWJ's involvement with the republicans as 'a form of escapism' to get out of the IWP. It seems I had been scheduled to address a weekend school on the question of the free trade pact, but the republicans were said to have blocked me from doing so. This caused bad feeling. He goes on: '...the... Geraghty family was there, and the ex-republican G... whom Cathal suspects of no good intentions - and he is right, I smelled a political enemy even though we were not introduced - merely seeing his posing , and noting his attitude...'. I recollect several occasions when this G... intervened against the republican-left convergence process, and I wondered about his motivation.

In the final entry of 1965 on December 31 CDG recorded receiving a letter from RHWJ inviting him to address a meeting of the Wolfe Tone Society on 'Trade Unionism and the National Struggle'. He declined, perhaps giving priority to his sister's condition. Again on March 28, on the phone to SR, it turned out that O'Riordan had talked to SR about a meeting, and a school in Ireland to which he wanted people to go, and a Joint Council (of the IPW and NICP). Sean Redmond referred him to the 'proper authorities'.

After all the CA was not the same thing as the CPGB! The efforts of the CA to escape the dead hand of 'post-Stalinist orthodoxy' were often made more difficult by this type of contact.

CDG's sister Phyllis died on May 10 1966. After making arrangements for the cremation he went to Dublin on the 14th, staying as usual with Cathal MacLiam. They went to the Connolly Day march on the 15th, '..Fitt was on the platform but the speeches were empty..'. CDG then had lunch with RHWJ on May 16: '...both he and Cathal stress the great success of the Wolfe Tone Society lectures... disclosure of a great republican "blueprint for revolution" in Saturday's Independent. MOR says "obviously RHJ's composition". RHJ says "a composite document lifted from RHJ's reports"...'. He goes on to give an assessment of Tony Meade the UI editor '...a somewhat intense young man... very serious in the dedication to his cause... a slightly cynical sense of humour... I would say that his outlook is entirely bounded by bourgeois horizons, though he can ask Cathal "what is the Marxist line on that?" as if it was only to be brought out of the right pillbox..'.

On May 18 Tony Meade left CDG down to the North Wall, '...discoursing on 1916 and saying that the insurgents made a mess of it and didn't know what they were doing... an example of an attempt at revolution when no revolutionary situation existed, so was his own little effort in 1956, for which he did five years. He said he was sick and tired of commemorations...'.

Greaves in the later 1960s.

Volume 18

On June 4 1966 Greaves commented on the Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF) and the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL), the latter being 'better', having prepared a list of 'good Protestants' for the sub-committee on Northern Ireland, one of them being Paul O'Higgins. (Paul had been to school at St Columba's with the present writer, and in that sense I suppose could 'pass' as a Protestant, though in fact he was a 'Catholic atheist' sent there by atheist parents, with Catholic family backgrounds, as a refugee from Catholic education. He was by this time well established in Cambridge as an academic legal specialist, and his contribution to an NCCL NI committee would indeed have been useful.)

Greaves attended the Clann na h-Eireann demonstration at Trafalgar Square on June 12; it was rather poorly attended, 96 having marched down from Hyde Park. The CA commemoration the following Sunday had 160 people marching down from Hyde Park; there were however no speakers from Ireland. Some earlier attempts to organise a joint commemoration of Wolfe Tone had failed; so that the two organisations did so separately on successive Sundays.

On June 13 1966 Greaves mentioned a letter from RHWJ referring to the US-based Monthly Review, which was setting up an office in London and were seeking support. CDG however was dismissive of this, regarding it as a Trotskyist front, linked with the 4th International and the Bertrand Russell Foundation. I had been a supporter of MR since observing its support for Cuba in the late 1950s, as a rare and worthy US-based rational progressive voice. It remains published to this day, being associated with the names of Huberman and Sweezy. CDG's dismissal of MR is the measure of the extent to which he was still at this time under the influence of Stalinist and post-Stalinist orthodoxy.

At Hyde Park meetings during this period the norm was for the trotskyist 'workers group' people to run a rival meetings and to heckle the CA meetings, on one occasion accusing the CA of 'making Sinn Fein Stalinist', and mentioning the present writer by name. The dead hand of Stalin had indeed prevented the development of any rational united Marxism-based organisation in Europe for generations, providing the basis for ongoing, painful and sometimes violent disunity among various radical left-wing groups, most of whose members in their own way wished to speak for justice and for the dispossessed. Police agent-provocateurs routinely took advantage of this disunity, with a view to ensuring that it persisted, so that bourgeois hegemony remained safe.

The July 8 1966 entry deserves quotation, for reasons which will become apparent: '...(Micheal O'Riordan) told me he had discussed with Cathal Goulding the possibility of bringing back Frank Ryan's remains from Dresden. He is going there next week for the 30th anniversary of the International Brigade.... he is hopeful of establishing a broad committee led by Peadar O'Donnell... I understand from Cathal (MacLiam) that Cathal Goulding is no longer the Chief of Staff. Apparently the position does not automatically revert when its owner returns (ironically he had done a spell in jail, on an arms charge, at a time when he was doing his best to lead the movement on a political path). This explains why the IRA turned out in force to defend the 'blue flag' at Bodenstown. They had so much greater strength than the police that to ban it would have involved the use of troops. The IRA thus acted a a kind of Citizen Army on this occasion. Every man had a baton concealed in his trousers. This was not Cathal Goulding's idea but his successor's, and he doubted its success. The fear is now that it becomes a matter of principle. The change of CoS also explains the discussion with MO'R..'. This incident was an indicator of the fragility of CG's influence in the Army Council, and the persistence of the culture which subsequently led to the emergence of the Provisionals.

There was on July 16 1966 an encounter of CMacL with the United Irishman editorial committee; Tony Meade, Sean Garland, Tom Mitchell, Cathal Goulding and Denis Foley were there, discussing whether to print a reply by Tom Mitchell to the present writer's famous 'rosary' letter. CDG's comment is revealing: '...Roy should of course never have raised the question which is entirely speculative since there is no sign of any Protestant drift towards republicanism..'. Nor indeed would there be, as long as they feel they have to dress up political commemorations in religious garb. This is a 'chicken and egg' problem. Protestants must be made feel welcome in a united Ireland. I am quite unrepentant about this, and regard CDG's remark as pussyfooting.

Greaves visited the present writer's place on October 15 1966, finding that I was away, turning up the next morning unshaven and jaded. This was the occasion of the 1966 Army Convention. CDG noted that I was '..inclined to inveigh against the romanticism of this exercise. He said that there was talk of entering the Dail... Mitchell and Meade were not opposed... as the voting repeatedly revealed. They had sent Tony Coughlan to Belfast ... to revive the Wolfe Tone Society there, which means he can't be at the Labour Party conference....'. I remember feeling at the time that this was no way to be making serious political decisions, in an all-night session, without documentation. I was elected to the Executive, where there was a clear majority of politicisers. I declined to go forward for the Council, which consisted of Goulding, Garland, Costello, O Bradaigh, Mac Stiofain, and 2 others, who could have been Mitchell, Meade, or perhaps Mac Giolla, I am not certain of this. The sending of Coughlan to Belfast would have been a Dublin WTS decision.

On November 14 1966 CDG recorded that on the previous '...Thursday SR was at the Civil Liberties (this was the Executive of the NCCL on which SR represented the CA) and who should arrive but McCartney (a law lecturer in Queens, with NILP connections). He was expressing fears that some villains from Dublin were starting a Civil Liberties which was not a branch of the British one, and SR was speculating as to who it was. I told him that I had tried to put the Dublin republicans up to setting up an independent one and had tackled CG about it. Tonight I rang JB to get Fitt's address: "...we've a key Civil Liberties meeting coming off. Of course a certain view wants it to be a branch of London, and we have to be careful about the link with Dublin if we want the Trade Unions. So we'll have a separate six-county one." So that was good...'.

This is a reference to the seminal War Memorial Hall meeting from which the NICRA arose. It had come about on the initiative of the Dublin WTS, via the Belfast WTS, and prior work had been done on the republican network at the two Maghera meetings in Kevin Agnew's house; the first was to plan the meeting with the aid of the Belfast WTS, and the second was to persuade the republican grassroots to support it, while keeping their heads down. There was an expectation of Belfast Trades Council support for the meeting, thanks to the work of the Belfast WTS, which had been in touch with Betty Sinclair. The second of these Maghera meetings was the one referred to by Tim Pat Coogan as having involved Eoghan Harris. The role of the latter, who at the time was a somewhat uncommitted fringe member of the Dublin WTS, was simply to read the Coughlan script, Coughlan being pre-occupied with his father's funeral, and the present writer, who should have read it being the Dublin WTS representative, being inhibited by his stammer.

Speakers at the War Memorial Hall meeting from Dublin included Kader Asmal, the leader of the anti-apartheid movement, and Ciaran Mac an Aili, who was explicitly a supporter of non-violence, and had played an earlier Civil Rights role in the republican interest; also Professor Michael Dolley, of Queens. So it seems CDG was aware of the War Memorial Hall meeting and was supportive of the initiative, which must be credited to Anthony Coughlan, who produced the seminal Tuairisc #8 paper from the Dublin WTS.

On December 31 1966 CDG turned up in Dublin staying with MacLiam's. In the middle of a long entry, the following occurs: '...AC.. told me about CG who requested space in the Democrat and then didn't want it. "Then" says Tony "they came to me and said Goulding wanted to write in the Democrat but didn't know what to write about. So he asked me if I'd write it for him." This would suggest that politically Goulding was somewhat at sea without a compass, while apparently wanting to encourage the movement to evolve towards the Left. I am surprised that CDG does not comment to this effect.


CDG visited Dublin on March 11-12 1967 for the IWP seminar, which however received scant treatment; he insisted on having it taped, for fear of Trotskyite presence and publication of a bogus account. Packy Early was there, with some Dublin Trades Council people. '..on the whole it was quite a success..'. He reports the post-seminar discussion, which took place in MacLiam's place in Finglas, and it seems I was present. Andy Barr spoke. One Pat Murphy, associated with the 'Clifford Trotskyites', '...tried to create a split by asking Barr if he dissociated himself from the thesis of the priority of the national struggle. But he said he did, and left his interlocutor no room for manoeuvre. In the afternoon Deasy was lecturer. One young lad again tried to move the socialism versus nationalism issue... Roy was at this session. The Ard Comhairle of Sinn Fein was last night so he could not come. Otherwise CG would also have been here.

This indicates that the left-republican convergence was very much still alive, at the level of mutual recognition and willingness to exchange ideas, and that CDG was supportive of the process. But in practical terms the choice of dates for events was unco-ordinated, so that mutual participation was subject to constraints.

On March 12 CDG visited Maire Comerford before returning to London, and recorded the following:

'I asked about Alice Stopford Green and MCf surprised me. She considered that she had greatly influenced Collins towards his alternate Treaty position. She had backed Casement loyally, though her financing of the Howth gun-running was essentially a piece of English Liberal politics. Over Casement she lost her Liberal friends, while retaining some of the Labour ones. She came home to Ireland towards the end of the war and MCf then became her secretary - not a very good one... since she was always being "lent" to national organisations... the entry continues with an anecdote about Mrs Philip Snowden and her practical education in the Irish situation, and a further anecdote about Alice Stopford Green:

'...(She) asked her to read the headlines of the morning paper to her. She began 'Seventeen Auxiliaries Ambushed'. It was only then she revealed her true opinions. She rushed over, snatched the paper from MCf's hands, tore it, crumpled it and stamped on it. The inherent imperialism came out. MCf thought there were two reasons. One was that she was a nineteenth century Liberal who thought that British democracy would, given time, evolve to a perfect form of government by consent. Secondly her study of the decentralised old Gaelic State had led to a fanciful parallel between this and a decentralised British Commonwealth. I forgot to enquire whether she used the word Commonwealth which I understood to originate around 1921, from Liberal circles. Britain was the "mother county" as Tara was the High Kingship. She valued an enlightened Union, and the Free State seemed to give it, just as partition seemed a sort of decentralisation...'

'...She thought that Collins was "loyal" and never started up intrigues of his own. But for some reason de Valera gave Griffith a veto on everything. She had only met Griffith once when he came to see Mrs Green and was very impatient at her being out....'

In London on March 16 1967 Greaves had a visit from Sean Garland (whom he always referred to as 'the military man', according to MacLiam): '...Last night AC telephoned saying that there might be ructions in Belfast next weekend and that somebody was coming to see us about sending an observer... (this) proved to be Sean Garland.... He told me that the Republican Clubs, which had been made illegal in the Six Counties, had decided to defy the law and hold a Convention in the Ard Scoil, Divis St, on Sunday. They wanted me and Sean to go, as many British MPs as possible, and observers of all kinds. What were we going to observe? He could not say, anything might happen.

I roundly ticked him off for not consulting us over something he wanted us to take part in, and added that I could think of nothing more foolish than for an illegal organisation to bring all its members together in one place ready for the authorities. I did not think we could participate. However I would see what could be done about observers. I asked why they had decided on this action, and he replied that they felt that if they did not do something they might as well give in.

I would prefer the alternative course of a legal campaign for the lifting of the law, I said. He was throwing in his main forces without consulting his allies, merely expecting them to follow suit, and I was afraid they might split the Civil Liberties committee over there. He listened to all this quite quietly. He was here to get what he could, I presume, and an observer would be better than nothing...'.

The next day March 17 1967 we have '..Garland came again in the morning. I got him to tell SR what he had told me before I told Sean my own view. SR did not perhaps put things as forcefully, but his conclusion was the same. I then asked SR to take him up to Tony Smythe, and see what NCCL would do. They went up, and came back laughing. Instead of urging caution, Smythe had thumped the table and cried "That's the way to treat those laws! Direct Action!". He was all for the NCCL sending somebody, and later offered to go himself if we paid for the trip and his EC members did not object.

Meanwhile we wired the Leicester group of Amnesty International which is studying the Special Powers Act. Johnson telephoned and said he thought somebody would go, and I phoned JB asking him to have these facts announced. Smythe was to meet Garland at the dance at the Dorchester Hall (this was the annual St Patrick's Day event organised by the CA). Marcus Lipton was there. "I hope Tony Smythe is not going to get into trouble" he said to J(oe) D(eighan) as he left... "...two weeks jail will not hurt him and 'twill make wonderful propaganda..". When speaking to Garland I adverted to the prospect that Amnesty's man would be hit on the head by the RUC. He replied "we can only pray for it". So these allies are highly expendable..!.

Smythe's NCCL EC agreed he could go, and he leaked stories to the papers, and arranged a press conference in London for his triumphant return. The next day, March 18 1967, they met in the office. SR was to get an emergency resolution passed at the conference of the MCF. Contact with Belfast trade union people (DATA) indicated that they could not touch it. From JB it emerged that the convention had been 'cleared' by the police: '...in other words an illegal organisation had asked police permission to hold a meeting of its entire membership, and had obtained it...'.

Then later Jack Bennett rang from Belfast to the effect that Craig had announced on the radio that the convention was after all banned, whereupon the republicans announced that they would hold it in a 'secret place'. JB was left with the problem of how to get the observers there, which presumably was resolved; in the March 20 entry he noted that there were 80-100 people present, including Betty Sinclair and Anthony Coughlan. Six resolutions were passed. The preamble had involved the Trades Council, to which Betty Sinclair objected, as they had not been consulted in advance. '..They cannot involve organisations through individuals..'. In the aftermath Tom Mitchell was arrested, and Smyth and Gerry Fitt went to enquire about him, they were told he was not there, though they could see him. '..The second in command, who is to take over shortly, showed visible embarrassment - and spoke with an impeccable Oxford accent..'.

On April 20 1967 in Belfast CDG met with Betty Sinclair in her office: '...She told me that she discovered that when she was prevented from speaking at Casement Park it was not the fault of the GAA but that the republicans had cold feet at the last minute. How she found this out was that on the way to Murlough last year Sean Steenson drove her up in his car. "I believe you objected to my speaking last year" she remarked. "Not a bit of it". The republicans had told her they would be delighted to have her but they had been threatened that if she spoke they would never get the Park again. Even when she got to Murlough she was left off the agenda and the chairman was closing the meeting after Sean Redmond spoke. But one of the officials ran to the chairman. Betty wondered if a fight would ensue. Then the chairman, a local man, said "Miss Sinclair wished to say a few words". Such is the fear of Communism...'.

CDG continues on Betty Sinclair: '...she described the banned meeting, and her remarks which Tony Smythe had dismissed as "striking a jarring note". There were of course reasons: she had objected to the description of the six counties as a police State because it was to frighten people. She told Tom Mitchell "what a job you could have done for us if you had taken your seat - a real Irishman there." And she described refusal to enter Leinster House as "mock heroics". Then, later: '...at a meeting of the Civil Liberty organisation Billy McMillan had said there should be free speech for everybody, to which she replied "you stopped me from speaking at Casement Park". He blushed a deep red..'.

Later CDG got to talk to Billy McMillan, Art's brother (and at that time O/C of Belfast RJ). There was talk of a possible trip to London in June. '...he showed me an exercise book in which he was endeavouring to get to grips with political ideas. He said "the Army would like to co-operate with everybody, including Communists, but there is a strong group of old-fashioned Sinn Fein in the way". He asked if I thought Betty Sinclair would co-operate in a campaign against unemployment. I said I was sure she would provided they did not attempt to usurp the functions of the Labour Movement. For that is the danger. She thinks they are all very suspicious of Protestants, and that the Protestants feel lost, not knowing what nationality they belong to, or having any history or culture. But he did not show signs of this. He is probably the most thoughtful and broadminded though the brother is more forceful...'.

Here CDG was getting to grips with the width of the culture-gap between the left-politicising Belfast IRA and the Protestant radical tradition which was expressed in the CP. I was of course aware of this, and was similarly feeling my way towards bridging it. He went back across the water on April 21, after a brief encounter with Sean Caughey, who expressed a high opinion of Gerry Fitt, and was optimistic about the way things were going.

On May 27 1967 CDG recorded: '..Cathal and I... walked in the protest march against the Common Market sell-out. Sinn Fein had organised it, but if they had not invited the IWP they would have had nobody!... Derry Kelleher was there and I understand spoke.. after some comments on wage levels etc CDG concludes: '...so this movement is in a rather confused state.'

Volume 19

Then on June 11 1967 CDG and the present writer set out on out bikes towards the north Dublin countryside; we encountered Seamus O Tuathail going for a walk: '...he has no job, refuses to emigrate... now he works for TM in the UI. RHJ says he is one of the best..'. He went on to record that I told him I had '..often had a smack at the motorists in (my) articles in the UI, but (the then editor Meade) always cut that out..'. We had been discussing the volume of cars on the roads.

I have no recollection of this specific issue; I am not conscious of ever having been substantively 'censored' in the UI. I do recollect this occasion, however, and I remember distinctly trying to interest him in some theoretical ideas on how a State firm should be managed, keeping track of the management costs. I had picked up a feel for the problem in Aer Lingus, and had homed in on the role of management in the reduction of entropy, with the manager having the role of 'Maxwell's demon'. I have discussed this substantively elsewhere. I had hoped to get a discussion going with CDG around this concept, with which he as a combustion technologist would have been familiar, via the second law of thermodynamics. He was however totally dismissive, along the doctrinaire lines that 'there is no basis for a theory of management overhead costs in Marxism'. I felt the existence of an intellectual gulf; we were not on the same theoretical wavelength. This I think was a turning-point in our relationship.

Then on July 4 1967 CDG recorded an encounter with Uinseann Mac Eoin: '..he thought that the south side (of Dublin) was the revolutionary centre from having the intelligentsia. But he agreed that the classes involved were broader, and that the activists were the intelligentsia of the newly rising nationalist small business people..'.

This indeed corresponded to my then view; it had motivated me away from dependence on post-Stalinist orthodoxy and the Irish Workers' Party (which the Irish Workers League had by now become). I don't think CDG ever appreciated the basic weakness of the Irish working class as a source of Marxist organisation, let alone Marxist theoretical analysis.

On November 24 1967 there was an extensive entry relating to an encounter with one BO (Ben Owens) in Central Books, which recorded encounters with the police and alleged IRA bomb threats. This suggests to me that the British dirty tricks department were prepared to re-invent the IRA for their own purposes, just as the B-Specials were with the Silent Valley incident, in order to try to prevent the development of progressive Irish political republicanism allied to the Labour Movement in Britain.

CDG on December 7 1967 received a letter from Micheal O'Riordan inviting him to lecture on May 5 the following year, on 'Connolly the Marxist', in the context of their Connolly centenary celebration. He replied preferring a June date, and mentioned that he was thinking of a special issue of Marxism Today, about which he was in touch with I(dris) C(ox).

The suggestion here is that CDG wanted to claim Connolly firmly in the pantheon of the international (ie post-Stalinist Marxist orthodox) movement, in the integrity of which he still believed, despite the strains earlier induced by the Hungarian events, and which were currently beginning to surface in the contexts of Poland and Czechoslovakia.

Further details related to the foregoing are available in the second 1960s module, mid-1966 to end-1967.


The third 1960s module 1968 onwards contains further highlights, as follows.

The year 1968 began in Liverpool with an account of a meal with his old college friend Alan Morton, who was suffering from the erosion of Botany as a discipline in the University system, under the influence of various 'cost-effectiveness' measures imposed by the bureaucracy. This contact remained as a window into current science, which however was of doubtful and probably decreasing value.

Then in Dublin O'Riordan agreed to a June date for the 'Connolly as Marxist' lecture, and would himself appear in London to help the CA commemorate Connolly. Later on January 12 there was a reference to CDG's attendance at a CPGB International Affairs Committee, at which issues relating to China and Yugoslavia were discussed, which '..open a train of thought..'. He did not however reveal what it was. The international movement was, increasingly, a source of strain.

There was a mention of a contact with the present writer on February 10 1968; it seems I was trying to track down some Clann na hEireann contacts; I was in London for a weekend break. The contacting of the Clann was peripheral; there was I believe something on, but if I had been there it would have been informally as an observer. I phoned CDG in the hopes of an encounter with him, to tease out the theoretical implications of the way things were evolving. But he was I think putting up the barriers; he had written me off as some sort of apostate.

In retrospect what must have been on my mind was the nature of the distinction between 'labour movement' and 'petty-bourgeois' modes of organisation, and whether the distinction was as black and white as he seemed to want to make out. Scratch a Dublin 'proletarian' and you find a 'petty-bourgeois' not very far below the surface. The Irish Workers' League in the early days had used Party funds to buy equipment for one of its EC members, to set him up in business, as an alternative to chronic unemployment. Most bricklayers were 'on the lump'. I was critical of Marxist orthodoxy, and anxious to explore how 'workers, working managers, working owner-managers and self-employed' could be brought into the developing movement for all-Ireland national democracy, and brought around to accept something approximating to a co-operative or democratic socialist vision as the follow-through.

On April 10 1968:'...Telefis Eireann rang up about a Connolly programme. "It won't be what you'd like" said the producer Eoin something-or-other (could this have been Eoghan Harris?) "it will be what the Irish Government likes." He asked me to go to Dublin for a day and appear on the programme, but I told him I am too busy to oblige. He wouldn't have Sean (Redmond). He said he knew AC..'.

I find it difficult to understand why he did not take this up, despite the producer's warning. He would have had the standing as the author of the definitive 'Life and Times'. He would however have had to interact publicly with people with whom he had little patience. He was I suppose primarily a 'back-room' person, though he regularly faced the public, at meetings of his own choosing, and often had to deal with public abuse. The injection of some Marxist scholarship into the RTE presentation on Connolly would have been, to my mind, positive. According to Coughlan, however, CDG would 'never appear on TV, on principle', and MacLiam is of the same mind; he would however contend with radio.

There was on May 14 1968 a reference to a meeting in Nottingham, with its Fergus O'Connor connection, at which the question of a Joint Council between the IWP and the CPNI was discussed. John Gollan the CPGB chief does not want the CPGB represented. The question arose of CDG or J(oe) D(eighan) going in their individual capacities. But what then about expenses? Issues arose like the IWP accepting money from 'dissident elements'.

There were complex issues here, arising from the delicacy of the relationship between the CPGB and the Connolly Association. There was a hint of CDG assuming his old role as catalyst in the process of formation of an all-Ireland 'official' Marxist party as part of the 'international movement'. This was a distinct process from the present writer's aspiration to develop the republican movement into an all-Ireland democratic Marxist party having broad-based support from 'workers, working management, working owner-managers and self-employed'. The obstacle to the former process was of course the perceived residual Stalinist aura of the 'international movement' in the post-Stalinist period. Stalin's ghost was far from having been exorcised.

Then on June 9 1968 CDG gave an account of the Connolly meeting in Dublin, which took place in Moran's Hotel. It was due to start at 10.45 a.m. and to CDG's surprise the meeting was already crammed; 150 people at least. He noted that the whole of the progressive movement of Dublin was there. This was indeed one of the high points of the left-republican convergence. In the aftermath he had a meal with Maire Comerford, Sheila Humphries and Aileen McGrane. He clearly preferred the company of the old-timers who were his historical sources. Later he ended up in Belgrave Road; there is a record of an encounter between CDG, CMacL, AC and the present writer, at which membership status was discussed. The question of the secretaryship of the Wolfe Tone Society came up; it seems I declared myself to be going for it, on the understanding that AC was becoming the education officer of 'another organisation'. He said that I asserted AC was in the same position as myself as regards membership. The ensuing conversation, as recorded by CDG, indicates that he had regarded both AC and myself as being actual members of the IWP, and this therefore indicated that, in his perception, we both had dual memberships. He went on: '...we would get the republicans into a mess and then we'd get the blame..'.

Cathal was an IWP member at the time, occasionally active for a demonstration or a meeting, but increasingly involved in the Trade Union movement. He was happily able to combine this with the Chair of the Wolfe Tone Society. Anthony Coughlan however was never a member of the IWP. I had ceased to be a member of the IWP since at the latest 1964; more likely I had simply not re-registered on return from Britain in 1963, though I had remained on good terms with them. Both Coughlan and I had been acting on our own initiatives, without feeling the need to consult CDG, in our disparate ways of attempting to influence the republican movement in the direction of democratic politics. My understanding at the time was that AC was actually closer personally to Goulding than I was, and I interpreted that as perhaps implying membership of the republican movement, though in fact it was closer to the 'political consultant' status later adopted by Eoghan Harris. Certainly in Goulding's perception the WTS was 'part of the movement', though this never reached the level of an Army Convention or an Ard Fheis decision.

It is evident that CDG was thinking in terms of the IWP as a disciplined Party organised on Leninist principles, and it came as a shock to him to find that AC and the present writer were maintaining their distance from this Irish embodiment of the Comintern aftermath, in the interests of the broader vision. It also came perhaps as a shock to Cathal the extent to which the Wolfe Tone Society was perceived as being the 'property' of the republican movement. Much of the web of contradictions which drove the then situation is embodied in this conversation.

CDG had not grasped the extent to which the IWP vision and mode of operation, rooted as it was in the by then totally corrupted and Moscow-dominated 'international movement', was a political cul-de-sac in the Irish context. They were like a religious cult, with Moscow instead of Rome. AC and I had, in our separate ways, understood this, and envisaged a much broader-based movement, while keeping to the Marxist core-idea of getting democratic control over the capital re-investment process. We had the vision of building a national unity movement around the combined interests of working people, including small business and self-employed in the definition. The idea of the 'dictatorship of the proletariat' in the Irish context was a non-starter, whatever dubious value it may have had in more industrialised countries, and that indeed also was open to question.

We can see here an implicit statement of the problem faced by post-Stalinist Marxism as regards attitude to the marketplace, and to political entrepreneurship and risk-taking. Coughlan rejected the republican constitution and did not join. I was prepared to accept the constitution, warts and all, on the assurance of the leadership that they wished to change it, and needed help in doing so. With hindsight, I am inclined however to be unrepentant, and to come down on the side of the philosophy of broad-based Marx-inspired political entrepreneurship, rather than narrow Marxist orthodoxy dominated by Stalinist bureaucracy.

Volume 20

In the August 29 entry we have an account of the CPGB meeting at which the Czechoslovak crisis was discussed. It is possible to make out that CDG prefers the Irish to the narrow parochialism of the English. The overall impression is that CDG takes up a position of defence of Soviet intervention.

Then on September 5 1968 in London it seems I phoned and then looked in. While I was there MO'R phoned, congratulating CDG on his stand on the issue; there had however been complications in Dublin, and a statement critical of Russia had gone out, despite MO'R, who now wants to get CDG to '..knock sense into people's heads..'.

A leading group of IWP activists, including George Jeffares, Sam Nolan, Joe Deasy, Paddy Carmody and a few others, later broke with the IWP on this issue, mostly ending up in the Labour Party. The attention of the IWP leadership was concentrated on this issue for many months, while the Northern situation developed its positive potential. My evaluation of their minimal utility in the developing Irish situation, as outlined above, was on the whole confirmed.

CDG went to Dublin on October 9 1968, straight to Cathal, then to lunch with AC, where he discovered that AC had been drenched by water-cannon in Derry at the October 5th civil rights demonstration there, which brought the situation in Northern Ireland to world attention. He asked AC '..if they stood for socialism why didn't they join the working-class movement? AC: The unions and Labour party would never do anything. CDG: so you have a short cut? They said they had. It is to be hoped it proves shorter than their cut to the United Irish Republic...'.

He went on: '...I was at Cathal's and AC and O'Toole came in. Then RHJ came in looking very jaded. I gave him a further talking-to - but he is entrapped in a web of his own weaving. At midday I had seen O'Riordan who told me he had trouble with Nolan over Czechoslovakia. This was indirectly confessed when Nolan came in. Smilingly he said "I hope you're not here to make trouble." I said I doubted if I could add much to what was here already..'.

The disastrous nature of the USSR's action was indeed showing up across the board. What chance was there of getting any sensible approach to developing a broad-based politicised left-republican convergence in this situation? At least the republicans were not allowing themselves to be diverted by it, but the Left, such as it was, was effectively neutered.

CDG must by now have been regretting his inability to follow through from the May 6 1965 Belfast event, which had been the seed-bed for the alternative approach to Civil Rights, rooted in the Labour Movement. He continued to promote this approach via the CA and the NCCL. He must have been very frustrated by his loss of touch during the period of his sister's illness. Most of his Irish contacting had been in the context of historical research; those with the hands-on experience, such as AC and myself, he must have seen as having, in a sense, upstaged him. He was showing signs of being embittered. He had however never questioned the role of the 'international movement' as regards the way it left open the door for credible anti-communism.

On October 19 1968 he encountered Betty Sinclair, who regaled him with the '..sharp internal differences within the Civil Rights Committee.. the anti-communism of Fred Heatley. What is bad is the refusal of the CP to participate effectively. We discussed the republicans who she says are very difficult to work with. They invited her to one of their committee meetings, secret no doubt, but she did not go. I said I thought she was right..'.

A proposal had arisen, initiated by Fred Heatley, to the effect that those who had participated in the 'illegal march' at Derry should sign a paper saying they had done so. Betty agreed initially to this at the meeting, then went home and had second thoughts, conveying these to McAnerny the secretary, who also began to have doubts. Together they went to a third, who felt the same. Heatley was indignant. Some compromise formula was agreed.

Betty, whose heart was in the right place, was thus being left out on a limb by the Party. Her wavering on the signing issue must have been influenced by her relative exposure. She was supporting the NICRA in her personal capacity. The inability of the Labour Movement to take up officially the opportunity presented by the May 1965 Belfast conference must have been increasingly obvious. CDG had been consistently supportive of this approach for years previous, and continued to be so, despite the way the NICRA had evolved after the War Memorial Hall meeting, without official Trade Union support. He regarded the potential of the May 1965 civil rights conference under the auspices of the Belfast Trades Council as having been subverted by the failure of the Northern Ireland Labour Party to follow it up.

Early in in November I met informally with Micheal O'Riordan. I was uneasy about the way the republican movement was going, and had made an informal approach to seek his views. This was conveyed by MOR to CDG, who took it that I was 're-joining'. But no way could I at that stage have re-joined. I felt that the politicisation process among the republicans had been started, had momentum, and needed to be completed as far as possible. I had no inkling of the impending Provisional threat. Mac Stiofain was playing his cards close. Although critical of Greaves, especially his hard-line Czech attitude, in line with that of O'Riordan, I felt I needed to keep up the contact. There were signs of internal reform within the 'international movement'; I had not totally written it off. Maybe if the politicised left-republican project succeeded, there would be a place for it in a reconstructed international movement, without the heavy centralist hand of Moscow, then dominated by the so-called 'Brezhnev doctrine' which justified intervention.

We may have on December 10 1968 the beginnings of doubts, on the part of CDG, about the integrity of the USSR-dominated 'international movement'; he recorded a conversation in CPGB circles about a 'spontaneous' meeting in Moscow in support of some proposal, with the result appearing in print within a few hours: obviously a 'put-up job'. He went on to note the opinion of a Hungarian, to the effect that differences between 'socialist' countries arose from competition for the West German market. The Czechs with their reforms would have been well positioned to improve their market share. CDG concluded '..I did not feel that this was an adequate explanation for the gigantic sledgehammer taken to this nut..'.

In Dublin on December 13 1968 CDG recorded seeing SN and lunching with AC, without comment. The next day he showed up at the IWP Christmas bazaar, where he encountered, trivially, the dreaded G..., mentioned earlier. He discussed the Czech situation with Carmody: '..there is nothing for us in an anti-Soviet campaign..'. Carmody agreed. CDG also encountered the remains of the IWL group who had been so destructive of the CA a decade previously. Carmody wanted to talk with them, expressing sympathy with Pat O'Neill who had been 'crucified' while in the Electrical Trades Union. CDG: '..the "crucifixion" consisted of touring England in a motor-car posting bogus election papers for Haxell. It would be impossible to have the slightest sympathy for anybody involved in that discreditable operation..'.

The evidence of the deep-rooted corruption of the USSR-dominated 'international movement', extending right down to the membership and practice of its component member-parties, as observed at first hand by CDG, was visibly accumulating.

[Greaves Journal from January 1969]
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