Monthly Archives: April 2016

Will Sanders Stand As A Green To Stop Clinton?

An intriguing question posed (and answered) in the latest edition of Counterpunch:

The Push to Make Sanders the Green Party’s Candidate


Bernie Sanders, to the consternation of critics in the Democratic Party, pundits in the corporate media, and purists on the hard left, has accomplished an amazing thing. Up against Hillary Clinton, surely the biggest, best-funded corporate-backed candidate the Democratic leadership has run since Walter Mondale lost to Ronald Reagan in 1984 over three decades ago, the once obscure independent Vermont senator has battled Clinton to almost a draw, down by only some 319 delegates with nearly 900 to go (not counting the corrupt “super delegates” chosen for their fealty to party leaders, not by primary or caucus voting.)

By doing this well, as a proudly declared “democratic socialist” who on the stump has been denouncing the corruption of both the US political and economic systems, and as a candidate who has refused to take corporate money or money from big, powerful donors, instead successfully funding his campaign with only small two and three-digit donations from his supporters, Sanders has exposed not just his opponent, Hillary Clinton, but the entire Democratic Party leadership and most of its elected officials as nothing but hired corporate tools posing as progressive advocates of the people.

But now Sanders faces a truly momentous choice. Defeated by the combined assault of a pro-corporate mass media and by the machinations of the Democratic Party leadership — machinations both long-established with the intent of defeating upstarts and outsiders, like front-loading conservative southern states in the primary schedule, and current, like scheduling only a few early candidate debates and then slotting them at times (like opposite the Super Bowl) when few would be watching them — Sanders knows that barring some major surprise like a federal indictment of Clinton, a market collapse, or perhaps a leak of the transcripts of Clinton’s highly-paid but still secret speeches to some of the nation’s biggest banks, he is not going to win the Democratic nomination.

So does he, after spending months hammering home the reality that Clinton is the bought-and-paid candidate of the the banks, the arms industry, the oil industry and the medical-industrial complex, and after enduring endless lies about his own record spouted by Clinton and her surrogates, go ahead and endorse her as the party’s standard bearer for the general election? Does he walk away and return quietly to Vermont? Or does he instead continue to fight for his “political revolution” by another route?

The first and even the second option would mean the demise of his so-called “political revolution.” A Sanders endorsement of Clinton at this point would be a pathetic betrayal of all the energy and money that his fired-up backers have poured into this extraordinary campaign, and it would send a message that fighting against the nation’s ruling elite is impossible, at least through the ballot box. It would also be pointless. Some 25-30 percent of Sanders backers, according to pollsters, have made it clear that they will not support Clinton no matter what — including if Sanders were to endorse her. That in itself could be enough to doom her candidacy. Furthermore, after all his well-grounded attacks on the corrupt funding of her campaign, and of her horrific record as senator and secretary of state, any endorsement he made would be seen as a joke. He would spend the next three and a half months of the general election running from reporters asking him if he “takes back” the things he had said about her earlier — her crooked speech fees from Goldman Sachs and other big banks, her default advocacy of disastrous wars in Iraq, Libya, Syria and elsewhere, etc. Most seriously, endorsing Hillary after all that earnest, heartfelt campaigning, would be a huge blow to his millions of backers and his “movement.”

Just shutting up and going home, with no endorsement for Clinton, would be almost as bad, leaving his movement leaderless and thoroughly demoralized, and he’d still be besieged by journalists seeking to have him either diss or endorse Clinton.

The third option Sanders has though, is to continue his run for president, but not as a Democrat. And that option could be explosive and even revolutionary this election year, depending on how he did it.

Most states have deadlines for candidates seeking to get a ballot line as an independent candidate that are earlier than the Democratic convention in July, so running as an independent would be impossible. And a write-in campaign would be even more hopeless. But there is another option: Running as the presidential nominee of the Green Party, which already has a ballot line on 25 states and which doesn’t hold its nominating convention until August, after both the Democratic and the Republican conventions are over.

Could Sanders run as a Green? Some of his supporters are already talking about the idea. So, it turns out, are members of the Green Party. Apparently even Dr. Jill Stein, a past presidential candidate of the Green Party and its likely candidate this year, as well as Kshama Sawant, the hugely popular socialist city councilwoman in Seattle who led that city’s activists’ successful fight to pass a $15/hour wage law, are writing a letter to Sanders inviting him — urging him — to enter into discussions with the Green Party about running as its presidential candidate. Stein is apparently even willing to step aside and perhaps run as his vice presidential running mate if he were to do so. (Sawant has made an excellent argument for why Sanders and the Greens should do this. She also has a petition online for people to join in the call. It already has over 17,000 signatures.)

Will Sanders seize this opportunity to continue the fight? If he is serious about inspiring a political revolution, he must. He has said he does not want to be a spoiler “like Ralph Nader” and help elect Donald Trump or some other Republican. But would that be the result of a three-way race with Sanders running as a Green? Not necessarily. In the first place, the claim that votes for Nader led to George W. Bush’s 2000 victory over Al Gore is bogus. Gore lost because he embarrassingly failed to win his own state of Tennessee. As well, it is clear that it was a corrupt Republican Supreme Court that by a 5-4 vote halted the count in Florida that handed that state’s electoral votes to Bush. It has been shown that continued counting and challenges to improperly rejected ballots would clearly have given Florida to Gore.

More importantly, 2016 is not 2000. The public this year is clearly sick of the two major parties, and disgusted by the undemocratic nature of the primaries. Incredibly, both Trump and Clinton, the likely winners of those primaries, represent the two most unpopular and disliked candidates in memory, with some 65 percent of Americans saying they dislike Trump and another 56 percent saying they dislike Clinton. Indeed, Clinton, not favored by almost half of Democrats, is so disliked outside the Democratic Party that there’s a strong likelihood — and a fear even among Democratic leaders — that she could lose to Trump or another Republican nominee all by herself, with or without a Sanders endorsement. Meanwhile, the most liked candidate this year continues to be Sanders, whose negative rating is just 36 percent — probably all of them Republicans — and who continues to poll better against all possible Republican candidates than does Clinton. With numbers like that Sanders, if he continued to build his movement and continued to bring in new voters as he has demonstrably done in the primaries, could even contemplate winning such a general election race. He has also demonstrated his ability to attract tens of millions of dollars a month in online contributions. Running in a three-way race, he’d surely collect even more money, making him fully competitive with the two widely-loathed big-party candidates.

As the Green’s presidential candidate, Sanders would have the opportunity, even if he were to lose, to catapult the Green Party, for decades stuck in limbo in the low single digits as simply a protest-vote option, into major-party status as the party of the 99% — the poor, working and progressive people of all races. That’s a standing that would not go away in subsequent elections, but that instead could be built upon — especially with both major parties currently in danger of fragmenting. Given Sanders’ already proven popularity, it would be impossible for the corporate media to deny him a lectern at any general election debates, as was always done to Green Party candidates and independents like Nader in the past.

Sanders and his ardent supporters, in other words, have a unique historic opportunity to shatter the asphyxiating two-party duopoly of two pro-corporate parties that has been the Bermuda Triangle of progressive politics for over a century.

Will he give up on the self-defeating, nonsensical notion of backing Hillary Clinton if she wins the Democratic Party’s nomination for president? If he does, despite being clearly the most progressive candidate to make a serious run for the presidency since Eugene Debs in 1920 (when he garnered 3.4 percent of the vote running from a prison cell), Sanders will at best be consigned to a brief, dismissive footnote in future histories of the United States. If he runs in the general election as a Green, he has a chance to write a whole new chapter in those history books.

So here’s an call to action:

If Bernie Sanders is reluctant to make the jump to running as a Green, he needs to be pushed by his supporters. He needs to be shown that it can be done, and that his would not be a quixotic campaign, but rather a serious effort to win the White House. How can that pushing be done? Well, think about it a minute. By the time this primary season ends in early June, Over nine million people, and maybe more, will have cast votes for Sanders. Many many more who support him passionately were denied the right to vote for him by restrictive primary rules in states like New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, rules that limited voting in Democratic primaries to people registered as Democrats (in NY you had to make that decision back in October, 2015 before Sanders was even being considered a serious candidate!). In fact, where the primaries have been open to independent voters, Sanders has usually won. Even last Tuesday, the four primaries that Sanders lost, in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Connecticut, were closed, but in Rhode Island, which was open to independents, Sanders won by 10 percent, a crucial difference not mentioned in most corporate news reports). Obviously in the general election, independents will be voting.

Imagine if even a fraction of those millions who back Sanders — his voters and those who were barred from voting for him — were to descend on Philadelphia for the July Democratic convention, which will be held on July 25-28 in, of all places, the Wells Fargo Bank Center (funded and named by one of those notorious too-big-to-fail banks that have been Hillary Clinton’s faves). Imagine those Bernie backers filling the streets of this city where the nation was founded, armed with signs saying “No Hillary endorsement!” and “Go Green Bernie!” And remember, inside that aptly named convention center there will also be hundreds of elected Sanders delegates, who would be demanding the same thing of him.

How could Bernie Sanders, a 74-year-old activist veteran of so many popular movements over the years, refuse such a rousing call to action?

Sometimes A Picture Is Worth More Than A Thousand Words

No comment is needed:

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, center, poses for a photo with Laredo Police officers before Trump's departure from Laredo, Texas, Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump, center, poses for a photo with Laredo Police officers before Trump’s departure from Laredo, Texas, Thursday, July 23, 2015. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Is What Ken Livingstone Said Really Anti-Semitic?

Have a listen to the relevant part of the interview on something called the Vanessa Felz Radio Show and decide for yourself:


Following the interview a Labour MP called John Mann confronted Livingstone, calling him a ‘Nazi apologist’. After that Livingstone was suspended from the British Labour Party with approval of Jeremy Corbyn, the under-siege leftist leader of the party.

Ken Livingstone

Ken Livingstone

Apparently what the former Mayor of London had to say about the Hitler-Zionist pact is historically accurate and he gave his interview to defend Labour MP, Naz Shah who was also suspended from the party, also charged with anti-semitism for criticisng Israel.

Here is what Livngstone had to say before and after the remarks in the recording above:

She’s a deep critic of Israel and its policies. Her remarks were over-the-top but she’s not antisemitic. I’ve been in the Labour party for 47 years; I’ve never heard anyone say anything antisemitic. I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the state of Israel and its abuse of Palestinians but I’ve never heard anyone say anything antisemitic.

The simple fact in all of this is that Naz made these comments at a time when there was another brutal Israeli attack on the Palestinians; and there’s one stark fact that virtually no one in the British media ever reports, in almost all these conflicts the death toll is usually between 60 and 100 Palestinians killed for every Israeli. Now, any other country doing that would be accused of war crimes but it’s like we have a double standard about the policies of the Israeli government.

Was this a genuine bout of anti-semitism or one or both of two other things: a) a convenient stick which the Blairite wing can use to beat Corbyn and edge him closer to his ouster as leader, or (b) one more effort to label any and all criticism of Israel as anti-semitic (the real target being the BDS movement, of course)?


God Help Us All!

It now looks as if America will have a lunatic and a war-monger vying for the world’s most powerful political job this November.

Here’s the lunatic:


and here’s the war-monger:


The Allison Morris Scandal

The UVF and Red Hand Commandos weigh in on the burgeoning Allison Morris affair (Update – someone emailed a comment asking why Allison has been named but not the cop. Well, one reason may be that he didn’t help send Dolours Price to an early grave):

What The Anthony McIntyre Subpoena Is Not

Chris Bray fulminates about some of the poor journalism that has characterised coverage of the McIntyre subpoena:

Flash – PSNI Subpoena Anthony McIntyre

PSNI Serve ‘Fishing Expedition’ Subpoena On Anthony McIntyre – US Agrees To ‘Star Chamber’ Hearing In Blatant Abuse of Process

Statement from Ed Moloney & Wilson McArthur, Belfast Project

April 25th, 2016

We have just learned that the British government, acting on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland (“PSNI”) and the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (“DPP”) in Belfast, have served a subpoena on Boston College seeking personal interviews given by Dr. Anthony McIntyre to the Belfast Project based at Boston College, Massachusetts.

The subpoena has been served under the terms of the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (“MLAT”) and the UK statute, the Crime International Cooperation Act 2003 (“CICA”).


Dr. McIntyre, who was lead IRA researcher for the Belfast project, gave a series of interviews himself which were conducted by a guest interviewer. Dr McIntyre has made no secret of this fact. He has now engaged leading Belfast human rights lawyer Kevin Winters of KRW Law LLP, to resist these efforts to raid his personal memoirs.


The subpoena request provides no details of specific charge, investigation or offence of which Dr. McIntyre is accused, no names of alleged victims, no dates, no places. Instead the originators of this shoddy document mention matters which are so overbroad, that literally anyone alive during the Troubles in Northern Ireland could be accused of some association with them.

We do know, in particular, that this request does not have anything to do with the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville, which was the event that motivated this PSNI trawl five years ago. Both the US District Court and the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit clearly deemed Dr. McIntyre’s interviews not to be relevant to the Jean McConville investigation.

Under the terms of the MLAT and CICA, which the authors of the subpoena claim as their legal basis for this action, requests for assistance from a foreign power may only be made where (a) there are reasonable grounds for suspecting that an offence has been committed, and (b) proceedings have been instituted, or an offence is being investigated. There are no proceedings in being for any offences relating to Dr. McIntyre and there is no reason to believe that any current or historical offence is being investigated.

This action by the DPP and PSNI is simply a fishing expedition, which is prohibited by international law.


Boston College has been ordered to appear at the John Joseph Moakley Courthouse in Boston at 10 a.m. on May 6th to deliver Dr. McIntyre’s interviews.

The DPP and PSNI have requested, and the Obama Department of Justice has agreed, to demand that Boston College keep these legal proceedings secret, away from the prying eyes of the international press. This Press Release puts paid to those nefarious efforts.

The gag notice means that the attempts of the British authorities once again to stifle academic research into the Troubles of Northern Ireland, an essential part of the peace process, was to be conducted entirely in secret like some modern day Star Chamber.

The use of secret courts offends every principle of legal fairness and openness inherent in the American legal system, as well as best international human rights practices, and we call on the media, in particular, whose First Amendment rights to cover such events are being undermined, to protest by turning up at the courthouse at 10:00 a.m. on May 6, 2016.

Secret courts and censored hearings smack of totalitarianism and they offend the public’s right to know.


The British authorities, the PSNI and the DPP have had more than ample time and opportunity to subpoena Dr.McIntyre’s materials before this. This begs the question, why are the authorities doing this now?

What is the real reason for this subpoena?

One explanation which leaps to mind is that this is an act of simple revenge, motivated by anger at the fact that the resistance to the subpoenas led by Dr. McIntyre embarrassed the prosecutorial authorities in Belfast, which have so far failed to bring any prosecution beyond the preliminary inquiry stage, never mind a successful conclusion to their well-publicized efforts in raiding and destroying a valuable Oral History archive. This is pay back, in other words.


Abuse of process is the only term to describe the treatment of Ivor Bell, who is the only individual charged following the receipt by the PSNI of Boston College materials. Mr. Bell has vigorously protested his innocence of any charges, and his case has not progressed past the preliminary inquiry stage after years of hearings.

Abuse of process is the only term to describe this latest move against Dr. McIntyre by the DPP and Obama’s DoJ. We therefore call on the Irish government not to co-operate with the British authorities should any effort be made to extradite Dr. McIntyre from his home in Drogheda to Belfast for the purposes of yet another futile and inordinately expensive “show trial.” We have sent a copy of this statement to the outgoing Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny and to the Fianna Fail leader, Micheal Martin TD.

We also call upon all decent-minded people in the US, politicians, lawyers, civil libertarians and members of the public to protest this disgraceful action by the Department of Justice. We call upon progressive candidates seeking nomination for the US Presidency to make their views clear on this matter.


This subpoena differs from all previous requests which were directed at the subjects of academic research. This subpoena is directed at an academic researcher, solely on the grounds that he attempted to record an alternative version of history. The implications for the rest of American academe are incontestable. What was it Pastor Niemoller said? ‘First they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist…..Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.’

Accordingly we appeal firstly to the Trustees of Boston College to support any legal effort to resist this subpoena. This is a matter which could adversely affect everyone teaching on Boston College’s campus. We would like to extend that appeal to the rest of American academe and ask the researchers and teachers of Higher Education in America to recognise the seriousness of this threat to researchers everywhere by making your opposition to this subpoena loud and clear.

This is a matter which directly affects academic freedom in America. This is not a time for silence or acquiescence.

Ed Moloney, former director Belfast Project
Wilson McArthur, lead UVF researcher for the Belfast Project

Tributes To Sandy Boyer, RIP

Thank you to everyone who participated in the celebration of Sandy Boyer’s life of political activism. Many people wrote tributes on the Internet, on websites, or sent by mail. We read many of these at the memorial event in Theatre 80 on April 17th, but we could not fit them all in. I would like to share these thoughts with everyone, so they are presented below, in the order that we received them. Thank you, Joan McKiernan


From Co-host John McDonagh:
I am so sad to relay that Sandy Boyer passed away on 2/11/16 after a brief illness. His commitment to Radio Free Eireann was unwavering – his attempts to host the last show were nothing short of heroic, and he collapsed after leaving the station.
His life was dedicated to trying to make the world a better place by being a voice for the voiceless, especially political prisoners. He was my colleague and comrade, but most importantly to my wife and me, a true and loyal friend.


The 1916 Societies offer condolences to the family and friends of Sandy Boyer who died on Thursday:


Having learned this morning of the untimely death of Sandy Boyer (pictured above right), yesterday in New York City, the 1916 Societies send deepest condolences to his family and loved ones. 

Sandy has been a true friend to the Republican Movement in Ireland and we are thankful for his efforts throughout the years. May he rest in peace.

Colin Broderick:

Shocked and saddened to hear of the passing of Sandy Boyer. No matter what I was working on; book, play, movie, Sandy was always one of the first people to contact me to see if he could help me get the word out on Radio Free Eireann. Thanks Sandy, Thanks for all the support. Thanks for all that you gave. Rest in Peace.

Richard O’Rawe, friend and biographer of Gerry Conlon:

Sandy and Gerry were two giants in the fight for the small person’s right to justice. Their passing has been a catastrophic loss to us all. Sandy and Gerry, almost single-handedly, secured the release of the Birmingham Six when they cajoled and conspired to persuade Congress to ask the British government to re-examine the case.

Gerry Conlon (r) interviewed on WBAI by Sandy & John McDonagh

Gerry Conlon (r) interviewed on WBAI by Sandy & John McDonagh


Daniel O’Halloran:

Our family friend, Sandy. Helped us move from Cobble Hill to Park Slope over 35 years ago, huffing, puffing and sweating, and ever with the smile.  An chuid eile i Síochána amháin daor, a ligean ar an gcomhrac dul ar aghaidh.
We remember you.

Brian Trench (Dublin):

Very sorry to hear of Sandy’s death. Over many years, he visited comrades and friends in Ireland on regular tours. We had stimulating political discussions. He was one of the good guys, who resisted dogma, but was steadfast.

The Pensive Quill:

That silenced voice, that empty chair …. a loss to freedom of expression and public understanding that those of us who worked with him will need time to both measure and contemplate. We at TPQ are deeply saddened by his death.

Mike Fleshman:

I worked with Sandy for many years at the anti-apartheid American Committee On Africa, and have lived just across the courtyard for many years. He was a former coop board member and a good friend and neighbor and he is missed.

Mike Fleshman address the memorial ceremony at Theatre 80

Mike Fleshman addresses the memorial ceremony at Theatre 80

Sandy made major contributions to the anti-apartheid movement via his work with the American Committee On Africa (ACOA) in New York. Hired primarily for his skill as a writer and fundraiser, he was instrumental in helping to design and launch ACOA’s labor solidarity campaign in the 1980s, as a new generation of South African trade unionists emerged to challenge the racist regime on the shopfloor. The Labor Desk sought to promote US labor solidarity with their South African counterparts by promoting and supporting direct union-to-union links, touring black South African labor leaders throughout the United States, engaging rank-and-file and pan-union organizations like the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists and Black Workers for Justice and establishing municipal and statewide labor committees against apartheid in Illinois, New York, and many other cities.  His wide range of contacts and keen grasp of union politics was key in helping to expand labor’s role in the wider US anti-apartheid movement and neutralizing the corrosive effect of the anti-communist AFL-CIO international department’s efforts to weaken the revolutionary South African labor movement and deflect worker support for anti-apartheid sanctions, disinvestment and corporate campaigns in the United States.

Frances Burns, former member of the International Socialists and Taxi Rank and File:

Sandy was a dedicated and hard-working political activist. He was also an extraordinarily kind person. During one big march on Washington, I’d been having a bad day and as the IS post-march event at a church in Washington was about to begin I completely lost it, crying uncontrollably. Sandy sat me down in a back pew and stayed with me with his arm around me until I was through. He did not cross-examine me about what was the matter or berate me for my lack of self-control.

He did not make a big deal about it but I think he also had health problems starting when he was quite young. In the late 1970s, a group of us, including Sandy, decided to go on an overnight hike in the Catskills. It turned out Sandy had high blood pressure and had not realized, because it did not cause him problems in the city, that it would be a major problem on a trail that went over 3 mountains. He had a terrible time but he persisted and finished the hike, although we ended up leaving his sleeping bag and some of his other possessions on the side of the trail.

Malachy McAllister pays tribute to Sandy's efforts to stop his deportation

Malachy McAllister pays tribute to Sandy’s efforts to stop his deportation


Republican Sinn Féin:

Like all in the Republican community both in Ireland and the US will remember Sandy fondly as a man who gave a voice to the oppressed, Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam, Sandy!


Maggie Trainor, Cumann na Saoirse:

Sandy received the 2009 Sr Sarah Clarke Human Rights Award from Cumann na Saoirse/National Irish Freedom Committee, an award he was most proud of and Sandy facilitated Cumann na Saoirse hosting Gerry Conlon to the US for the 2013 Sr Sarah Clarke Award.

Danny Shaw:

On behalf of the ANSWER Coalition and the Party for Socialism and Liberation, we express our deepest condolences and our redoubled commitment to live as Sandy lived, fighting for the self-determination of all oppressed people.

Mary Pike - lawyer for Joe Doherty

Mary Pike – lawyer for Joe Doherty

David Finkel, Managing editor of Against the Current, Detroit MI:

Remembering Sandy Boyer

Sandy contacted me last year regarding connections between water rights struggles in Detroit (where there are thousands of shutoffs) and Ireland. It was a great pleasure to re-connect and to get on Sandy’s extensive email list. His death is a great loss to us all.

I was able to work with Sandy during the mid-1970s at the national office of the International Socialists in Detroit, which at the time was still a major industrial city. For an inveterate New Yorker like Sandy, coming to the Midwest was a serious trek. In addition to politics, we shared common interests in baseball and jazz – both of our apartments stuffed with our expanding LP collections following regular expeditions to used record stores.

If the Detroit jazz club scene was not on the Big Apple’s scale, it was solid in its own right. Sandy’s jazz tastes were firmly rooted in classic bebop, while mine stretch to the “avant-garde,” but we greatly enjoyed the wealth of talent on the Detroit scene.

I always wished Sandy would write more. Whatever he produced – on South Africa, on the Irish movement, on labor or any other topic of interest – was solid, thoughtful and devoid of excessive verbiage or rhetoric. His purpose was always to reach an audience, never to show off his own knowledge.

And Sandy was knowledgeable – as I learned especially during the southern Africa liberation and solidarity movements of the 1970s. Nationalist politics, as we know all too well from multiple examples, can be both intractably complex and incredibly vicious. Both while he was in Detroit and while working with the American Committee on Africa, Sandy understood who was who and what was what in the liberation struggles, viewing them without rose-colored glasses while maintaining the primary focus of principled anti-imperialism.

His life of commitment to socialism and democracy is a legacy we need to uphold and carry on.

Seth Geoldman extemporises with a witty song at Sandy's memorial

Seth Goldman extemporises with a witty song at Sandy’s memorial

Kate Nash of the Bloody Sunday March Families:

The news of Sandy’s passing is all over the Internet now and so many people are acknowledging the sadness of his loss. He gave a voice to so many and that gratitude is reverberating through Ireland. My own personal view of this lovely man is how much he cared about all the same issues that are an embodiment of what The Bloody Sunday March stands for. Sandy Boyer was such a champion for Ireland but more than that, he was a champion for Human Rights and Equality for all. The world will be a sadder place without him. We owe him a huge debt of gratitude for all he has done in his life and we can best honour his memory by continuing to fight injustice wherever we find it. I am so sorry for your loss and please pass my sincere condolences to Sandy’s family and friends

Dan Kane, Teamster leader:

I appreciate your thoughtfulness in conveying the sad news of my friend Sandy’s death. I knew him over thirty years and had worked on labor, Mandela and Irish Arts Center issues; and, I am sure, others that I just can’t recall now. He was a gentle but solid soul. Our paths would widen and then the phone would ring as if we were gabbing with each other the day before. We knew our common ground and helped each other accordingly. I will miss him. The best movements will miss him. He made a difference.


Alan Mass, Editor, Socialist Worker:

I knew of Sandy a lot longer than I knew him. I became a socialist some years after the high tide of the left in the 1970s, but being interested in journalism and revolutionary news papers, I tracked down old Workers Power newspapers, and saw his byline. So I was happy and proud when my comrade Shaun Harkin got Sandy to start writing for the newspaper I work on, Socialist Worker.
Sandy was old school—he wrote with the same crisp, vivid, alive-and-kicking style I remembered. He had the ability to make complex ideas immediately understandable, without losing their richness, and he made protests and political events come alive. I recommended him many times as an example to follow for socialists who were new to writing. SW’s coverage of the Irish struggle was vastly enhanced, and he cut through the fog of details and statistics on any number of issues related to New York City’s social crisis, especially housing. But really, he was able to take on any question and find the kernel that mattered.

I know people at the memorial will know a lot more of Sandy’s political life, but this is what I knew best, and I feel like we have a lot to live up to from his example. But when I read and remember his contributions, I look forward to that task with a smile. Thanks Sandy. We already miss you. But we’ll try to do you proud.

Larry Kirwin, formerly of Black 47 gave a moving version of 'The Patriot Game' at Sandy's memorial

Larry Kirwan, formerly of Black 47, sang a moving version of ‘The Patriot Game’ at Sandy’s memorial

Andrew Pollack:

I hope something can be written on his work with the American Committee on Africa, which was hugely important during the struggle against apartheid in South Africa, especially in labor.


Anthony McIntyre, IRA ex-prisoner, who spent 18 years in Long Kesh, 4 years on the blanket and no-wash/no work protests which led to the hunger strikes of the 80’s:

During the H-block blanket protest and subsequent hunger strikes of 1980 and 1981, like many other protesting republican prisoners, I was aware of a concerted campaign on our behalf being waged in the USA. Activists not only from the Irish American community but further afield put their shoulder to the wheel in the push back against British intransigence and brutality.

News of their efforts would bypass the heavily filtered and policed official communication line between the H-Blocks and the outside world. People like Bobby Sands, Brendan Hughes and other prison protest leaders had developed a highly efficient alternative communication network, that rendered redundant prison management attempts to impose a regime that would have kept us incommunicado. Rudimentary compared to today’s technological world of telecommunications, it was nevertheless effective. So much of what we learned about the solidarity and support networks that in no small part strengthened our resolve, came via that improvised system. Necessity indeed was the mother of invention.

Our knowledge of the work being carried out by US based activists became more pronounced when some former protesting prisoners made their way to the States and began tying in with the campaigns already under way. Apart from some of the more well-known names we had little idea of who the individuals involved actually were, just that they were tirelessly giving of their time and energy to make things happen. It was only in later years that I got to know on a personal level some of those at the heart of that campaign.

Martin Galvin, former editor of The Irish People, compered the memorial service

Martin Galvin, former editor of The Irish People, compered the memorial service

One of those was Sandy Boyer, an indefatigable activist with a long history of involvement in progressive political causes and human rights campaigns. On his trips to Ireland Sandy would trudge up to my home in West Belfast and discuss the issues of the day. Quite often he would come face to face with the men whose cause he had tenaciously championed for so long: former blanketmen like Tommy Gorman. Sandy was always completely at ease in their company.

A hard-nosed activist Sandy Boyer did not do sentimentality and was never slow in calling something for how it was regardless of who it might have made uncomfortable. He stood in awe of no one.  He focussed on the here and now and the political challenges than needed to be met and managed. He was not one to rest on the laurels of past activism or seek praise for the many times he had taken to the streets of New York or its airways to press our cause. More often than not I learned of Sandy’s role from others.

When he died earlier this year, it was clear that a vacuum in the activist world had been opened up and which would not be easily filled. I still unconsciously expect in my Friday email inbox a message from Sandy outlining what Radio Free Eireann would be featuring the following day. While others have admirably and resourcefully taken up the slack caused by his passing, it will take time to get used to not having him around, teasing out and prioritising the issues that he felt needed airing.

It is people like Sandy Boyer, determined not to be thwarted by the powerful, who help make the world much more bearable than it would be were he to have opted for quietude and an easy life. When I think of the rise of Donald Trump, it comes home to me just how badly many among Fanon’s Wretched of the Earth need the analytical mind and voice of Sandy Boyer to help counter and trump their nefarious efforts.

A sentinel for a sane society, it is fitting that we remember him with deep gratitude.


Andres Mares Muro:

Sandy and I worked at Tenants & Neighbors a few years back.

He was always extremely kind and considerate towards me and yet blunt and direct in his opinions about the workings of this cruel, vicious society, viewpoints which I largely shared.

We argued politics and history over lunch, whether Bolshevism in itself had been the problem with the bad turn socialism took or could Stalinism & bureaucratic collectivism have been avoided; what were the best politics for tenants groups in NYC to pursue given the limited prospects of real change in a city controlled by real estate/landlord interests; and so on.

I think that given this country’s racist history (which resonates with my own life experiences) it’s hard for a man of color to trust just any white guy, even one who’s a radical. There’s a gap between our different realities. But from our first connection I sensed that Sandy had his heart in the right place. I could tell that he was a decent human being and I did trust him.

I’m in California so regrettably I won’t be at Sandy’s memorial. My biggest regret is not having checked in with him more while he was alive.

Bernadette McAliskey:


A tribute to Sandy

It has not been unusual over the passing years for Sandy Boyer to call me with news of the death of someone known to both of us as a comrade, friend or an ally in one of the many campaigns, which we wrought together in the USA, not all of which centred on Ireland.

We would have a conversation about the deceased person, the campaign and the current state of several nations, and how best to convey our individual and joint condolences and respect; discuss who else in Ireland might be appropriate to acknowledge the person’s contribution to their well-being of which the beneficiaries may never have been aware.The consummate organiser, Sandy, would more often than not have a draft of key points not to be overlooked.

The passing of time and changing vocabulary would see the living and dead described as veterans, elders and life-time campaigners and he would respond to my question, ‘who will do this bit when it is our turn to go’ with his trade mark laughter, ‘We‘ll be fine. Nobody will notice we are gone until the next campaign.’

Life can be like that. There are people you imagine will always be there quietly at the edge of your life and on call when they are needed, because they always have been. There are also people you imagine will always be there because they are part of the fabric of your own being. You are not quite sure how that came to be but it is difficult to remember a time when they were not an integral part of your perspective on life, your political action, your circle of friends, and your family. You look up to them, look out for them, rely on them, value their perspective and are guided by it; you intrinsically trust them and their judgment.

Sandy Boyer holds such a place in my existence and my life’s journey. There are very few people in that place.

From 1969, when I first discovered the USA, Sandy has been the key organiser, educator and agitator behind every visit, every campaign, every intervention in which I have been active in the US. These have not always been Ireland -focused. Our joint enterprise included campaigning for political prisoners of the USA, including Angela Davis, Leonard Peltier, Mumia, the Puerto Rican prisoners and the Black Panthers; fundraising in the Irish American community for Black Baptist Churches burnt down by racists; supporting boycotts and divestment in South Africa and Israel.

Sandy was an internationalist and socialist whose core belief was internalised to the point that it informed his every thought and action without his having to explain the rationale to himself or anybody else except when they clearly didn’t get it and he needed them to do so. He wasn’t big on proselytising!

Sandy at a Roisin McAliskey rally at the New York Public Library

Sandy at a Roisin McAliskey rally at the New York Public Library

For the whole McAliskey family, his finest hour was our darkest and longest in 1996/97 when Roisin was arrested and held without charge for some nine months while we battled against her extradition to Germany. Sandy drew on every ounce of energy he possessed, every contact, every campaign and pulled them into a nationwide US campaign for Roisin’s release, without which we might never have succeeded in getting her out of prison.

Even as we celebrate his life and mourn his death, we are reminded by the latest ritual attack on Malachy McAllister how much we will miss his commitment and dogged determination to protect rights, defend those in the firing line and secure victories, however small, in the struggle against injustice.

Now that he is gone, who will carry on the work in the US of challenging the narrative and analysis that the Irish Question is all but settled except for whether Hillary or Sinn Fein should get the credit for the land of peace, bread, freedom and feminism they pretend to have created? Who will provide the contacts for the platform to expose the injustice of the Craigavon Two? Who will patiently and consistently point out and challenge the political and moral contradictions of supporting justice and freedom in Ireland but still think Black Lives don’t really Matter; that it is Ok to treat Muslims as a terrorist community in the USA; that Palestinians don’t have a right to a homeland? Who, if not those of us still here, gathered today in his name? The struggle continues.

It continues now without Sandy, and we will indeed miss him when we need him for something; for all the ideas and analysis shared over the phone; over a glass or two; over time; on the radio; on the picket line; on the campaign.
I will miss his gentle friendship, his kindness, his loyalty and quiet wisdom.

Goodbye, Sandy.

Mary Ann Wadden:

Mary Ann Wadden with Sandy and Malachy McCourt who also attended the memorial

Mary Ann Wadden with Sandy and Malachy McCourt who also attended the memorial

In memorium Sandy Boyer

Sandy was a life-long socialist and human rights campaigner. He loved Ireland and envisioned a thirty two county united socialist republic. 
He worked tirelessly for whatever cause he believed in and never wavered, but always with good humor and laughter.
He was a devout atheist and a die-hard Mets fan. And he was my best friend. 
Once I asked Sandy what he thought folks would say about him when he was gone.  He said “Most would say they knew me, some would say they liked me.”
Simply put, I loved him.

Mary Courtney:

For Sandy, RIP

Hello everyone. I am so sorry to be missing this memorial today because of work commitments.
I was never able to thank Sandy enough for his many years of constant support for myself and for my music. He played my songs weekly on Radio Free Eireann and I can’t count how many times he rang me to announce my upcoming gigs on the air, and I was in the studio on many occasions with himself and John and the crew. 
We miss his presence with us in our current fight trying to stop the deportation of Malachy Mc Allister. He would, as usual, be leading the charge against injustice and bigotry as he always did throughout his life. He is sorely missed.
Thank you Sandy Boyer for your kindness, and may you now be in the great studio beyond, continuing your work to make things better for us all on the other side.
Thank you.
 Slán go fóill.

Sally OBrien

I am not in town – in fact out of the country or else I would be there for Sandy’s memorial – he was a special person and a wonderful fellow producer/friend. AND YES HE WAS STEADFAST IN HIS BELIEF AND PRACTICE!! I will miss his presence at WBAI. If contributions are called for please let me know how I can contribute – and when I return in June please let me know if anything else will be done for him (and us)
Condolences from my heart!! love & light.

Desmond Wilson, Springhill Community House, Belfast:

Dear Friends,

Thank you for organizing a memorial for the life and work of Sandy Boyer.

Sandy was a true friend who brought radical thinking to bear on the problems and potential of Ireland and of good people everywhere, especially those who are cruelly treated.

There are many people in Ireland who remember with great gratitude his lifelong dedication to the recognition of the dignity of all people.

I would be grateful if you would accept my thanks – I have been working in Belfast for many years and met Sandy often, so I have good reason to appreciate and honour him and his work and that of his colleagues.

With every best wish, Sincerely, Desmond Wilson

Sandy Bowyer.

Irish Times Headline: “Sinn Féin To Review ‘Industrial Wage’ Policy For Dublin TDs”

“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” Final line in Animal Farm by George Orwell.

Here’s the piece in Ireland’s paper of record, published on Friday evening. It’s an important story. Paying their elected members an ‘industrial wage’, considerably lower than other elected pols and using the balance to build the party, signified, at least to some, a commitment to radicalism despite SF’s involvement in establishment parliaments.

To ditch that policy, which the story suggests may happen soon, indicates the opposite, that SF wants to join the establishment, will increasingly excise its left-wing past, and will soon have economic and social policies appropriate to that status.

Sinn Fein will also begin to look a more attractive proposition to young ambitious types more attracted by the lifestyle and glitter of politics than by ideology. An infusion of such people into its ranks can only accelerate SF’s move to the center and right. The Fianna Fail’isation of Sinn Fein, if you like.

It is a major and important way-point in Sinn Fein’s journey, a key stage in the party’s political mutation that will be welcomed by some, especially fellow members of the establishment on both sides of the Irish Sea, but greeted with dismay by others.

Perhaps that’s why The Irish Times has removed the story from coverage of the party’s ard-fheis in its web edition today (Saturday). After all, it might not be a good idea to make too much of a fuss about it.

Death Of David Beresford, RIP

Very sad today to hear, courtesy of The Guardian, of the death of David Beresford, the South African-born journalist who I got to know well during the 1980 and 1981 IRA prison protests. Sadly we never crossed paths again.

David Beresford

David Beresford

The Guardian says he died at his home in Johannesburg after a lengthy illness, a reference to Parkinsons disease which he fought against bravely for the last 25 years.

David will be best remembered for his wonderfully written account of the 1981 hunger strike, Ten Men Dead which was based upon the comms, or at least some of them, between Bobby Sands, Bik MacFarlane, other prisoners, and on the outside Tom Hartley, Gerry Adams and others.

As Richard O’Rawe has written elsewhere, Beresford came upon the big story in his account by chance; that was the existence of Mountain Climber, the code name for Brendan Duddy, the Derry-based businessman who for many years had been the secret channel between the IRA and the British government (an arrangement, incidentally, organised by local RUC commander Frank Lagan, something which earned him the eternal hostility of his RUC colleagues and the British Army’s top brass).


David had secured the co-operation of the Provo leadership while researching the book and asked for access to the prison comms (letters written on sheets of toilet paper and smuggled in and out by visitors). They agreed but Gerry Adams instructed O’Rawe, who had been PRO for the H Block protesters, to remove any and all comms which referred to the Mountain Climber.

This he did, but one escaped his sieve and so that is how the world learned about the secret channel and the efforts to negotiate a death-free ending to the prison protest. And of course that was the domino which sent a whole row of dominoes tumbling and leading us, arguably, to a very different and more controversial explanation for the second, 1981 hunger strike. By such chance is history made.

Brendan Duddy, aka The Mountain Climber

Brendan Duddy, aka The Mountain Climber

David’s Ten Men Dead will be remembered not just as a stand-alone classic but  for being the portal to greater truth. For a journalist there can be no better tribute.

My first encounter with Beresford also turned out to be a learning experience for me.

In the wake of the first, Brendan Hughes-led hunger strike David, who was not long in Belfast and still finding his feet, approached me to ask what I thought had happened.

I was blunt with him. The protest had failed and the document which the British had passed over to the prisoners and which Sinn Fein was claiming spelled out the prisoners’ victory was nothing of the sort. They had come nowhere near winning the five demands.

I told him that I knew that rank and file Provos who asked to see the document were being told that there was only one copy and it had been sent to Dublin, so they couldn’t see it. (What I didn’t tell him was that I took one Provo up to Stormont where I got a copy of the document. Presumably it was then widely distributed around west Belfast!)

David then went to the Sinn Fein press office where, of course, it was denied with vehemence. Who told him such rubbish, they demanded to know!? I didn’t mind that he told them it was me because I was not making a secret of my interpretation of events.

Joe Austin, pictured with his mouth closed. So he's not lying!

Joe Austin, pictured with his mouth closed. So he’s not lying!

Anyway, I then got a message from the Provos via John McGuffin. I was banned from west Belfast. And the messenger boy? Joe Austin, about whom it was famously said: ‘Question – How do you know when Joe Austin is lying? Answer – When he opens his mouth.’

I ignored the ban and after a while it was presumably forgotten. But I learned some valuable, not-to-be-forgotten lessons, early in my career, about the guys who hung out in Sevastapol Street.

Thanks for that David!