Philip Ferguson’s cop-baiting


A call to order

Bob Gould

In several biographies of Michael Collins it’s related that when the 500 or so republicans in Free State prisons during the civil war, some of whom were under sentence of death, heard that Collins had been killed by fellow republicans in an ambush, many wept, and they all knelt and said the rosary for his immortal soul.

These were hardened republican fighters who were locked in what was to become, for a number of them, a battle to the death with the Free Staters. Despite the sharpness of the conflict between them and the Free State, they still respected Collins for his contribution and the military leadership he had given them.

Politics in Ireland doesn’t go in a straight line.

I don’t profess to be an expert on current politics in Ireland, the way the universal ultraleft knowall Philip Ferguson does, but I follow Irish politics closely.

I have a number of disagreements with the leadership of Sinn Fein in northern Ireland, particularly over their dry economic policies in government coalition with Paisley, but it’s still necessary to recognise the Sinn Fein supporters as nationalist revolutionaries with whom socialists have differences, and with whom other nationalist revolutionaries have differences.

Further to that, after the last election results in the six counties its clear that Sinn Fein is the mass party of the working class and most oppressed section of the nationalist population. Sinn Fein got a massive vote in the working class nationalist areas while the republicans critical of the peace process, so called, got a relatively small vote.

Those underlying realities of the political situation in northern Ireland ought to give any socialist pause before rushing to judgment on the situation in that province.

That doesn’t stop Ferguson, though, from his niche in the south island of New Zealand, launching vituperative broadside after vituperative broadside at the whole of Sinn Fein in northern Ireland, particularly its leaders.

It’s usually difficult to separate the politics of these broadsides from the personal abuse. They’re a bit reminiscent of the left talk about Ireland that used to come from the misnamed Revolutionary Communist Party in Britain before it became a fully fledged instrument of the British ruling class. I’m told that Ferguson knows a fair bit about the RCP. Now there was a real sect! Perhaps Ferguson might give us the benefit of some of his knowledge about how the RCP degenerated, rather than boring us all rigid with his weekly diatribes about Jack Barnes and company, which have now been going on for some years.

This latest piece from Ferguson about police agents in Provisional Sinn Fein seems to have moved over from Ferguson’s usual nasty eccentricity into a field entirely unacceptable to serious socialists. I ask of Louis Proyect, is it now to become the norm to slander the major political leader of the main organisation of the nationalist oppressed in the following way (in Ferguson’s words):

“The more the peace process continues and emphasis is put on ‘reconciliation’ one of the ironies is that the more likely agents are to be outed. This is a nightmare for the Adams cabal because not only were the Provos in general riddled with agents, most particularly in the north, but some of them were pretty highly placed and part of Adams’ own cabal. In fact, Adams himself kinds of reeks – not necessarily of being a paid Brit agent but of certainly covering up for people who were and engaging in all kinds of secret diplomacy with the Brits behind the backs of the entire movement.”

When Ferguson says, “Adams himself kind of reeks — not necessarily of being a paid Brit agent himself, but …” he’s implying there’s a strong possibility Adams is a British agent. Who gave this pissant minor academic and one-time political tourist his security clearance to make that kind of assertion against Gerry Adams and the other leaders of Sinn Fein?

When you go to the articles Ferguson quotes about the spy business, you find that his assertions are based, in part, on unknown sources who say two people from the truth and reconciliation commission have been given files identifying the British agents in the Provos.

I don’t believe any of that for a second. I’ve had some experience in these matters. I have 6000 pages of my own ASIO and special branch police files, squeezed out the coppers essentially by political agitation, and anything in those files that can provide any hint of the police sources is carefully blacked out.

In Australia the coppers, federal and state, go to great lengths to protect and cover their sources, and I doubt that it’s any different in Ireland. The bourgeois journalists and Ferguson say secret sources have revealed the identities of the agents. That smells of disinformation from secret agencies of the state, but Ferguson uses that kind of tainted “information” to imply that Adams, who has done a lot of time in British jails for his political activity, may be a British agent.

Louis Proyect should call Ferguson to order, pronto.


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2 Responses to “Philip Ferguson’s cop-baiting”

  1. redbox Says:

    You’re right Bob. The cops would like leftists to spend their time looking for secret agents and causing disruptive and destructive brawls. Ferguson’s suggestion about Adams is unfounded and malicious, regardless of Adams’ policies at the present time.

  2. Wombo Says:

    And that point remains so, despite – in fact, because of – the fact that the theory that Brownie is an agent has been doing the rounds in Irish Repubican circles for years.

    Even if it were true, it wouldn’t be the point. The struggle is not about – nor determined by – an individual. If Sinn Fein is shifting rightwards, it is because the membership is allowing the leadership to do it.

    This also being a reason why eirigi split off over a year ago.

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