As we have noted above one expression of the move to the left of the Irish working class has been the rise of Sinn Fein, along with a certain shift to the left in that party's message. But what sort of alternative does Sinn Fein really represent and how does its practice - whether in government in the North or in the movement in the South - match its rhetoric? Kieran Allen's critical assessment of these questions in our lead article is therefore very timely.
Equally timely is UNITE economist, Michael Taft's forensic dissection of the government/media narrative of `recovery'. One of the most striking features of the movement in recent months has been the disconnect between the message coming down from above and feeling of people on the ground. This article helps us to understand this disconnect. On the question of LGBT rights IMR interviews Ailbhe Smyth who has long been at the heart of this struggle and who offers us her reflections on how it has developed in Ireland.
The issue of mental health can sometimes be seen as a peripheral matter, perhaps of interest mainly to specialists. In reality it touches the lives of millions of people, often with devastating effect. Moreover it is something about which Marxists and socialists have much to say, with Marx's theory of alienation, as Peadar O'Grady argues here, being a particularly useful concept.
Continuing out interest in matters historical and cultural Paul O'Brien revisits the figure of John Redmond, recently resuscitated by John Bruton in an attempt to undermine the legacy of 1916, and John Molyneux examines Walter Benjamin's observation on the relationship between cultural treasures and inhuman barbarism.
In this issue we also present substantial book reviews which tackle the highly relevant topics of the roots of women's oppression and the relationship between climate change and capitalism, along with an assessment of Alex Callinicos' important study of Marx's Capital and reviews of interesting historical works on the Irish Revolution in Tyrone and the visit to Ireland of American black abolitionist, Frederick Douglass.