Tuesday 23 October 2018

Ex-IRA chief of staff and socialist politician dies

DAIRE BOYLE

CATHAL Goulding, former Chief of Staff of the IRA and one of the key figures in what was to become the Workers' Party following a split within the Republican movement, died on St Stephen's Day in St James Hospital, aged 76.

CATHAL Goulding, former Chief of Staff of the IRA and one of the key figures in what was to become the Workers' Party following a split within the Republican movement, died on St Stephen's Day in St James Hospital, aged 76.

A friend of Brendan Behan, he joined Fianna Eireann as a teenager in the 1930s and in 1945 was involved in trying to reactivate the IRA in Dublin.

During the late 1940s he was involved in running an IRA training camp in the Wicklow Mountains. In 1953 he joined two other young republicans in a raid on a British Army training base in Essex. They were quickly apprehended and, as a result, sentenced to eight years in jail.

It was Goulding's second period in jail and, following his release, he joined the IRA Army Council and in 1959 became Quarter Master General. In 1961 he was appointed IRA Chief of Staff.

During the 1960s Goulding espoused an increasingly Marxist view of politics which, at the time of the civil rights marches and one-man-one-vote campaign in Northern Ireland, attracted left wing support for the Republican movement.

However, with the outbreak of violence in Northern Ireland in 1969 and the activities of the B Specials, there emerged many within the Republican movement who believed more traditional military activities offered the best hope of achieving a united Ireland.

The split between what became known as the Official IRA and the breakaway Provisional movement was as much tactical as it was political. Whereas Goulding favoured a revolutionary Marxist outlook for the Republican movement, as much centred on the aim of establishing a united, socialist Irish 32-county Republic, the Provisionals concentrated on what was essentially a `Brits Out' campaign.

During the 1970s and 1980s there were further splits as the Official Republican movement split into Republican Clubs, the Workers' Party, the Irish Republican Socialist Party and their military wing, the INLA.

In 1971, following a graveside oration for a dead Official member, Goulding was charged with incitement to cause explosions or shoot people. He was acquitted.

In May 1972 following pressure from its political wing and what was to become the Workers' Party, the Official IRA called a ceasefire.

There followed a period when the Workers' Party was trying to establish itself as a bona fide democratic political party while, within Northern Ireland, the Official IRA was still involved in violence and racketeering.

Goulding, for his part, became increasingly critical of the Provisional IRA, arguing that a purely military campaign was doomed to failure.

In 1992 the Workers' Party again split, six of its Dail deputies leaving to form Democratic Left. Despite ill-health, Goulding remained active in the increasingly marginalised Workers' Party.

In 1950 he had married Patty Germaine and they had a son, Cathal Og. They separated and he later had a son Paudge by Brendan Behan's wife, Beatrice. He subsequently had two further sons, Aodhgan and Banban, by Dr Moira Woods with whom he lived from 1971.

He would have been 77 next Saturday. His funeral takes place on Thursday.

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