If the old adage that “you can know a man by the company he keeps” is true, then it seems the New Connolly Youth Movement is in a very confused place. On 18 June the New CYM attended the gathering of the Belfast-based Unity group, which has “reconstituted” itself as the “Irish Communist Party.”
One of the main ideologues behind this move by the Unity group is a former member of Official Sinn Féin and the CPI, Eoin Ó Murchú. In an article in Unity (25 June) announcing the event, Ó Murchú stated that his new “party” wants to unite all working people on the island. A fine sentiment, though it was at odds with the essence of a tweet on his Twitter account on 14 June where he stated: “A propos [sic] the trans debate, does this include people with white skins wanting to self-identify as Black people?” That is not the first time he has tweeted comments that could be described as transphobic.
The New CYM claim to be totally opposed to transphobia and have even challenged long-time feminist activists who have made comments that were milder than those made by Ó Murchú. The New CYM’s constitution states that its members must oppose transphobia. A number of their present members and recent “graduates” have joined Ó Murchú in launching the Belfast party. Do they agree with his views? Or do they turn a blind eye when the comments are made by those with whom the New CYM have made common cause against the Communist Party of Ireland?
Interestingly, in Ó Murchú’s article in Unity the issue of trans rights is absent. Is that due to bias, or was it an oversight? Or was the issue ignored by their conference?
Ó Murchú’s party is lukewarm at best in relation to Irish reunification and seems confused as to the cause of the sectarian division within the working class, particularly in the Six Counties. They call for unity between Catholic and Protestant workers, which, they state, “makes it essential that the need for security among the Protestant population of the North be addressed.”
What does this actually mean? Do they believe that the struggle for national reunification is sectarian and anti-Protestant? It has always been the contention of Irish communists and Irish republicans that sectarianism is the mechanism by which British imperialism maintains its power in Ireland. Ó Murchú’s party seems to believe that republicanism is the cause of sectarianism.
And exactly how do they intend to address this issue? Two other former communists associated with the Ó Murchú party, Ernest Walker and Joe Bowers, have come out in favour of a weighted system on any vote on reunification, in which a majority of Protestant/Unionist votes must agree, irrespective of the size of any vote in favour of reunification (Socialist Voice, August 2021)—an Orange veto, in plainspeak.
Does the New CYM believe that reunification is sectarian? Do they accept an Orange veto? If so, their flirtation with militant republicanism is over. The black ties and trousers and white shirts should be replaced with orange sashes, and in their world view William Walker will trump James Connolly.