Michael Farrell

Life
1944- ; Magherafelt, Co. Derry; ed. QUB and later at Univ. of Strathclyde; responded to RUC attack on Derry marchers by founding People's Democracy, with others, at QUB, 9 Oct. 1968; joined of the NI Civil Rights Association and addressed marchers as they approached Burntollet (‘There is a good possibility that some stones may be thrown’), 4 Jan. 1969; challenged Capt. Terence O’Neill [UU leader & Stormont PM] for Bannside seat in Gen. Election, Feb. 1969; issued Struggle in the North (1970), a Peoples' Democracy pamphlet [as Mike Farrell], calling for a socialist solution;
 
interned Aug.-Sept. 1971; identified himself as socialist Labour and Trotskyite; convicted of breach of the peace, 1973; went on hunger strike with Tony Canavan and released after 34 days; issued Northern Ireland: The Orange State (1976), later issued Arming the Protestants: The Formation of the Ulster Special Constabulary (1983), based on a PhD completed at Strathclyde as “Arms outside the Law: Problems of the Ulster Special Constabulary, 1920-22” (1978);
 
worked for release of Birmingham Six and other victims of judicial miscarriage; contrib. “The Apparatus of Repression” to the Field Day pamhlet series (1986); opposed Section 31 of the Irish Broadcasting Act excluding Sinn Féin/IRA from air-time, introduced by Gerry Collins (Fianna Fail) in 1971, and strengthened by Conor Cruise O'Brien (Labour), in 1977; settled in Dublin and qualified as solicitor in Dublin, with a Free Legal Aid brief; co-chaired Irish Council for Civil Liberties, 1995-2001;
 
appt. member of Irish Human Rights Commission, 2001, 2006; joined Steering Committee of the National Action Plan Against Racism, 2005;

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Works
  • [as Mike Farrell,] Struggle in the North (Belfast: Peoples' Democracy 1970), pamph. [see extract];
  • 'New Nations for Old', in Northern Star, no. 5 (1970) [Xerox copy published by Peoples Democracy, Belfast, 1970, held in Birmingham UL];
  • The Battle for Algeria (Belfast: Peoples Democracy 1973), [16pp.];
  • with Phil McCullough, Behind the Wire (Belfast: Peoples Democracy 1974), 40pp., ill.;
  • Northern Ireland: The Orange State (London: Pluto Press 1976; 2nd imp. 1976), 406pp.;
  • ed., with Vincent Browne, The Magill book of Irish Politics (Dublin: Magill 1981), 382pp., ill. [30cm.];
  • Arming the Protestants: The Formation of the Ulster Special Constabulary, 1920-27 (London: Pluto Press 1983), x., 374pp.;
  • Sheltering the Fugitive?: The Extradition of Irish Political Offenders (Cork: Mercier 1985), 139pp.;
  • Emergency Legislation: The Apparatus of Repression [Field Day Pamphlet No. 11] (Field Day Co. 1986);
Query: ed. Twenty Years On (1988) On (1988) [ISBN 0-86322-097-5], cited on apparently authorised Farrell Wikipedia page.

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Commentary
Declan Kiberd, Anglo-Irish Attitudes [Field Day Pamphlets, No. 6] (Derry: Field Day 1984), p.25, cites Northern Ireland; The Orange State (1976) and underlines Farrell’s observation that the National Council for Civil Liberties’ Report of the Commission [into] the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Acts of 1922 & 1933 (1936, rep.1972), condemned the Northern state as a ‘permanent machine of dictatorship’ which Farrell compares to fascist régimes in contemporary Europe. Kiberd adds that works on Northern Ireland by F. S. L. Lyons and Conor Cruise O’Brien are more widely read than those by Farrell and Eamon McCann. (ibid. p.24.)

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Quotations
Struggle in the North (1970): ‘[…] This is no easy option. The resistance of the Protestant workers will be hard to break down but at the moment they are drifting in a vacuum, a prey to Fascism, but at the same time more receptive to socialism than ever before because their allegiance to the Unionist party is finally being destroyed. / The “moderates” and the anti-partitionists can never reach these people. The timid and prevaricating constitutional “labourites” can never hold them because their dishonesty is plain to see. There is no point in trying to trick the Protestants. It must be made clear that imperialism is the root cause of the problems of Ireland, North and South. But these people can be won if they see that a Socialist Republic is not Rome Rule in disguise and if they are recruited to an organisation of genuine socialists fighting Green Tory gombeen men in the 26 Counties as vigorously as the Orange Tories in the North. / The only solution is the building of a 32-County socialist movement fighting the immediate battles of the workers on both sides of the Border, but all the time showing that the ultimate solution is a Socialist Workers’ Republic and all the time preparing to bring it about.’ (Available online at Left Archive of The Cedar Lounge REvolution: For Lefties Too Stubborn to Quit; online; accessed 22.06.2010.)

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References
There is no entry for Farrell in Who’s Who in N. Ireland (1998 Edn.); there is a Wikipedia “Michael Farrell -activist” page [online; accessed 22.06.2010].

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