Interview with Sean Mac Stiofain

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no. 3, March/April 1980

In a recent interview with Hands Off Ireland!, Comrade Sean Mac Stiofain (former Chief-of-Staff of the Provisional IRA) made certain political points which will be of enormous interest to readers of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!. During the interview, Comrade Mac Stiofain said: ‘I only recognise one struggle, that's the revolutionary struggle against capitalism, imperialism and against racialism.' He went on to show the connection between the struggle against imperialism in Ireland, in Southern Africa and against racism in Britain. We reprint extracts from this interview below, but readers of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! are strongly urged to read the full interview in Hands Off Ireland! 10.

Hands Off Ireland: Can we ask you about the connection between racism and the Irish anti-imperialist struggle. I remember in AP/RN there was an interview with a representative of the Army Council and one of the points he made in answering a question about the movement in Britain, was that the Republican movement expected support from Irish people living in England and also from black people who experience the same type of repression as Irish people.

Sean Mac Stiofain: The struggle against British imperialism and the struggle against racism, which is a feature of imperialism, is one and the same. A revolutionary Irish Republican would naturally stand with the oppressed against the oppressor. It's just as basic as that.

HOI: The Republican movement condemned the police action in Southall. And there was a Provisional Sinn Fein contingent on the commemoration for Blair Peach when he was killed.

SMS: That would be only the right and proper thing for Irish revolutionaries in Britain. They should be sympathetic. And they should, whenever possible, take part in anti-racist demonstrations.

HOI: What was your impression of Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism!?

SMS: I'm very impressed indeed. I think it was a brilliant idea to produce a magazine which expresses support for the revolutionary struggle in Ireland, support for the revolutionary struggle in Southern Africa and organises opposition to racism within Britain itself. I found the magazine most informative, most educational and I agree entirely with the analysis of the situation in Zimbabwe.

I regard Comrade Mugabe as one of the greatest political leaders to come out of the struggle in Southern Africa. I'm quite sure he knows what he's doing and that he has his plans ready to deal with any eventuality. But nevertheless as a revolutionary I cannot help but be concerned for the people who are in the assembly camps. I see the situation in Southern Africa as one of vital importance to revolutionaries all over the world. Sooner or later the struggle within South Africa itself will be intensified. And I'm absolutely sure that the Americans, the British and the other Western European powers will back up the South African racist regime to the hilt to protect their own investments there. And I believe we will see another Vietnam type situation arising in South Africa. I go so far as to say that I predict the utter defeat of imperialism and capitalism in South Africa. It might well be the death knell of capitalism from the struggle in South Africa.

HOI: Does the Republican movement have any official position on the struggle in Zimbabwe?

SMS: You would get that from An Phoblacht which fully supports the revolutionary struggle there. A revolutionary movement, if it is a revolutionary movement, will support revolutionary movements all over the world. I refer you to my prison experiences in England during the fifties. When we received word in May 1954 that Dien Bien Phu had fallen we realised that it was a great revolutionary victory and it meant the end of at least that phase of the war. We were very pleased. We were in sympathy with the Algerian struggle, with the revolutionary struggle in Cuba. We were in complete solidarity with the anti-colonial struggles in Angola and Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau, Aden. Anywhere in the world. One revolutionary, if he is a genuine revolutionary, must support the struggle in any part of the world. And if the opportunity arises, give them any assistance, advice, moral support that he or she is capable of giving.

HOI: So it would be quite correct for HOI! to denounce anyone who said that the Republican movement was not internationalist.

SMS: Absolutely! Anyone who could say that the Republican movement is not internationalist does not know what they're talking about. I for one, regard the revolution in all these countries as one revolutionary struggle — the struggle against capitalism and its offspring — imperialism and racism. And the revolutionary in Ireland —his first duty is to promote the revolution in Ireland and by so doing he is helping the revolution all over the world. If only by good example! Revolutionary success in any part of the world is a success for all because it is going to encourage revolutionaries elsewhere to take action. So I regard our struggle in Ireland, the struggle of the Basque people, the struggle in Zimbabwe, in Southern Africa, in Southern America —anywhere in the world —as one struggle. Our victory will be their victory. Any defeat that any revolutionary movement suffers is a defeat for us all. And I'm quite sure that we will see more and more co-operation between revolutionary movements.


Ireland: the key to the British revolution by David Reed

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