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"What's Another Tour? No to Racist Rugby"

An article from Socialist Republic, paper of Peoples Democracy, opposing an Irish rugby tour of apartheid South Africa in 1981.

A black-and-white scanned article from Socialist Republic headlined: What's Another Tour? No to Racist Rugby.
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A few months ago, we spoke to Vincent Doherty on the Irish Left Archive Podcast about his political activism, including his work with the National H-Block / Armagh Committee and standing as a candidate in that 1981 election.

https://podcast.leftarchive.ie/@ILAPodcast/episodes/vincent-doherty-offical-sinn-fein-international-marxist-group-troops-out-people-s-democracy-h-block-committee

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"What's Another Tour? No To Racist Rugby"

From 1981, an article in Socialist Republic on a proposed tour of apartheid South Africa for the British & Irish Lions rugby team. The team had toured in 1980 despite widespread opposition (including from the governments of both the UK and Ireland).

Socialist Republic was the magazine of Peoples Democracy, who were then the Irish affiliate of the Fourth International.

Scanned magazine article, reading:

What's Another Tour? No To Racist Rugby

Most readers of Socialist Republic probably have never played rugby. Rugby, you see, is a peculiar sport If you belong to certain broad categories of humanity ... well, you're out. If you are a woman, for example. That's half of you gone already.
If you are from the wrong side of the tracks. |f your accent is vulgar and you really don't know your claret. If you didn't go to a good private school. If you are small or lack the necessary aggression. And, in sunny South Africa, if you are black.

So what is all this controversy about the proposed Irish tour about? Why should the doings of fifteen burly executives with time and money to spare concern us? They are drawn from an elite minority segment of the community. If they wish to cart themselves off several thousand miles to the tip of Africa to kick an inflated pigskin up and down a grass field why should we bother? No doubt many of you wish you had the kind of job (that is, if you even have a job) with such attractive travel and recreation opportunities.

But South Africa is the problem, not rugby . And South Africa is unique.
This vicious society is as repressive and exploitative as any capitalist country. But with the added dimension of apartheid - racial segregation and discrimination enshrined as a fundamental policy of state. Over 80%of the population are totally and permanently disenfranchised, oppressed and degraded by the remaining 20%, simply because of skin colour.

In the psyche of the racist minority which presides over this barbarity, rugby plays an important role. All the classic features of the sport are there. Back-slapping bonhomie, character hardening platitudes, the gentlemanly violence of the heaving , stiff upper lips, sexist jokes in the showers after the match, ribald drunken singing over a few brandies on the train home. With one added dimension , all the players, managers, commentators and spectators are white. Any blacks that do want to play must do it on their own and with inferior facilities.


Far away from the whites' manicured pitch the black kids are crowded into festering slums. Officially they don't even exist - they are 'citizens' of remote rural native reservations they have never even seen. They kick cans =cross the dusty bits of burnt earth sandwiched between the shacks. Loiter around the shebeens -the white government kindly subsidises the price of booze for blacks. Stand in mute humiliation while a white cop demands the pass book. Sometimes even get shot or clubbed by the riot police - as the touring British Lions saw and heard to their discomfort last year.

No changes have really occurred in South African rugby. The wellfinanced and orchestrated SA government propaganda saying otherwise is a blatant lie. South Africa is racist and proud of it. Rugby, like all form of social activity, reflects that racism. The SA government has made it crystal clear that it will not alter apartheid and will fight to maintain it. Even as rugby officials were coming to Ireland to debate on RTE (who paid for that?) SA commandos were invading a sovereign state to murder fourteen innocent civilians who disagreed with being categorized as animals.

Rugby is an integral part of white South Africa. Boycotts do have an effect. They stimulate the morale of the oppressed and insure that no aspect of South African life can B pass itself off as "normal". South Africa is beginning to feel the first whisper of the coming wind as bastion after bastion of white rule and colonialism have fallen. That change did not come through any charm being exuded by a touring centre forward at a Johannesburg cocktail party. It came through the African liberation struggle being waged throughout the continent and the maximum international support for and solidarity with that struggle.

This is the time to isolate South Africa. The proposed Irish tour must be stopped. it is perhaps unfortunate that the debate on the tour, as revealed in the letters to the Irish Times, show a touching side to Irish liberalism which doesn't rise to the same heights when the issue is closer to home in Long Kesh or Armagh. But Socialist Republic isn't the Irish Times so we won't ask you to raise the matter in your local rugby club or at the next Rotary club luncheon. But do raise it and the issue of apartheid (and Western support for it) on your shop floor, among other workers, at your trade union branch, in your women's group, community association.

Workers in Dublin Airport have said they will refuse to process the travel documents of the rugby players.
This is the kind of action that will stop the tour. Actions like these must be encouraged wherever possible.

Because the tour is a diversion. Apartheid is not. It is the foulest product of centuries of imperialism.

ALAN BRUCE
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In a subsequent issue, the same author follows up with this article linking gay rights, women's rights and national liberation.

"Gay Rights and National Rights"

Gay Rights and National Rights

Following on from our report of the banning of a Gay Society in University College, Cork in Vol 4 No. 2 of Socialist Republic we have had requests from readers to explain the nature of the stu [sic] struggle for personal freedom. Readers of Socialist Republic will be aware of our view that the struggle for women’s liberation is part of the struggle for national liberation. We have consistently argued that feminists should recognise that the domination of women by men in this society and the denial of democratic rights to women is part of a broader domination of the Irish people by British imperialism.

[I]n this article MARTIN Mac An GHOILL shows how this also applies to the persecution of Gay people. Any denial of the rights of Gay people is an attack on a section of the Irish people. No Irish person can justifiably support it.

On a world scale the last fifteen years have been dominated by two great struggles — the struggle of oppressed people to overthrow the exploitation of imperialism and the struggle of women for full control over their own lives. In Ireland too, these two interconnected struggles have fired the imagination of youth and begun a debate which will outlive the end of Capitalism. That debate is centred around the various ways in which people can live 2nd the relationships they have with others. Are we to continue the exploitative and oppressive personal relationships established as the norm under capitalism, or will be forced to change our whole system of social and sexual relations as the foundations of the new society are laid?

For a very long time socialists and other progressives ignored this aspect of the struggle for liberation. As part of and affected by male dominated society they chose only to see bl an economic exploitation of women. They therefore ignored the revolutionary potential of the struggle for personal and social freedom and assumed that equal pay was the be-all i and the end-all of women’s liberation. There is no doubt that this failure to understand male domination has an objective basis particularly in Ireland, where all freedom of expression eventually hits the stone wall of the Catholic Church. The Famine (Britain’s neutron bomb of the 19th century), broke the back of Irish militancy and resistance for a whole generation. The only social organisation to survive intact was ® the Catholic Church, which quickly moved to establish control over all aspects of Irish society, including the personal relationships between people. Partition entrenched this position and along with the Protestant churches in the 6 Counties ensured that a blanket morality existed which persecuted and excommunicated all those who had different ideas about achieving personal happiness and fulfillment.

It wasn’t until the world-wide rebellion of youth in the 1960s that any real challenge was made to the forced heterosexuality encouraged by the churches. In this context women and young people demanded as of right control of their own bodies and lives. Gay people too, felt the confidence to break with the traditional stereotype of male/female couples and asserted their right to choose their own lifestyle.

How is Gay Liberation linked to National Liberation? On one level it is obvious that anything which loosens the control of one group over another must expand whatever democratic rights already exist. Thus gay people who are brought into the struggle for the democratic right to choose who they will live with push forward the struggle for all democratic rights and give self-determination a concrete expression. On a deeper level gays contribute to the struggle for national liberation by challenging the very foundations of the two reactionary statelets. Partition is the mechanism whereby much of the social and democratic legislation wrested from the British state by the British working class was denied to the Irish people. In refusing to accept an imposed sexuality and moral code the struggle for gay liberation exposes the nature of partition and the forces defending it.

But gays are not the only ones to suffer. Nor are they the only ones to fight back. For the past twelve years the Irish people have waged a war of national liberation against British imperialism, first through open resistance and latterly through massive mobilisations in defence of the political prisoners. Gays must now take up a debate with the forces leading that resistance to show where the demands of gay people figure in the programme of the Irish revolution. Equally those sympathetic to the struggle of gay people within the national liberation struggle must show that the demands of gay people can never be achieved except in a deformed way, while partition and the  two reactionary states exist. It is a debate which can only be mutually beneficial.
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"Gay Society Banned!"

A report on the banning of the gay student society in University College Cork, from Socialist Republic, paper of Peoples' Democracy, 1981, by Martin Mac An Ghoill.

Gay Society Banned!

In an unprecedented decision, the Joint Board of University College, Cork refused an application by the newly formed GAY SOCIETY for recognition as a college society.
The president of the college, Sean Feegan, has banned the Gay Society from meeting in college. The refusal of recognition means that no college money will be made avail able to the society and in general the work of the society will be made more difficult. '

When the vote was taken the three student representatives voted in favour while the four academic staff voted against without giving any ~ reason. However, it is generally felt that the reason had to do with the sexual predjudices [sic] of the academics. In an earlier decision they again voted en bloc to stop the purchase of GAY NEWS, SPARE RIB and other progressive publications for the student reading rooms saying that Charles Kerrigan (the gay general secretary of the S.U.) was foisting his 'degeneracy' on others.

The anti-gay views of the college authorities have not gone without challenge. A leaflet calling on students to protest at violation of gay and human rights has been produced by the Gay Society.
Many other societies have passed motions condemning the action and the Students Union, Class Council has promised continued financial assistance.

The emergence of an active Gay ,l Society in UCC is one of several progressive developments in the Cork area. The Gay community has become more open and vocal. The spearhead of this radicalisation has been the Cork Gay Collective.
Over the past eight months this group has realised through discussion that there can be no liberation without the direct participation in this process. Consequently they have initiatives including interviews on local radio, a lobby of the Labour Party and, most significantly, a forum for gay activists at the Glencree Reconciliation Centre. This led to a mandate being given to the Collective to organise a national conference of gay activists.

Already a planning committee, consisting of members of the Collective, the Gay Society and individual members of the Cork Irish Gay Rights Movement (IGRM) has been set up. It is hoped to have open forums, films and workshops as well as general discussion and socials. Gays from all 32 counties are invited and many are expected from Britain and the Continent.

Martin Mac An Ghoill

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Letters of protest should be sent to: Joint Board, University College, Cork. Send copies to : Gaysoc. c/o Students Union, UCC.