On 30 January 1999, at a demonstration commemorating the 1972 `Bloody Sunday' massacre in Derry by the British Army, Ian Donovan (publisher of Revolution and Truth) physically assaulted Eibhlin McDonald of the Spartacist League/Britain (SL/B). Donovan was briefly detained by the police but released when comrade McDonald (to her credit) refused to press charges against him.
Our comrades at the demonstration immediately informed the SL/B that we condemned Donovan's attack on McDonald, as we condemn all violence within the workers' movement. We are certainly prepared to defend Eibhlin (or any other leftist) from similar attacks in future.
In his initial statement, addressed to the SL/B, and widely circulated on the internet, Donovan admitted responsibility for the attack and commented:
In subsequent communications Donovan has referred to various incidents from the period of his membership in the SL/B (in particular a bitter internal situation in 1986 involving himself and Eibhlin) in an attempt to explain and/or excuse his attack on her. McDonald's denunciation of Donovan as an RUC supporter, particularly at a `Bloody Sunday' march, was provocative and unprincipled. Yet the SL's abuses of workers' democracy cannot be used to excuse Donovan's violent assault.
The SL/B's initial statement on the attack contained an account of the incident, a denunciation of Donovan, and a condemnation of violence in the workers' movement. A few days later the Spartacist League's international leadership apparently decided that Donovan's behaviour could be used to smear the International Bolshevik Tendency.
A statement released by the SL/B on 2 February (and reprinted in Workers Vanguard, 5 February) contains a series of vile calumnies against us, and in particular comrade Bill Logan, a former SL leader and currently a member of our of New Zealand section. To buttress the attack on comrade Logan the SL cites one Phil Ferguson, who they describe as `a survivor of Logan's organisation'. Like Ferguson's vitriolic inventions, this is an outright lie - Ferguson has never even met Bill Logan.
The contemporary Spartacist League is well known to be parsimonious with the truth, particularly when attacking its political opponents. The 2 February statement claims that: `Donovan is a former member and perpetual hanger-on of the dubious "International Bolshevik Tendency" (IBT) who have an obsessional hatred of the Trotskyist Spartacist League' and `are a culture medium for violent misogynist, anti-communist nutters like Donovan'. For a few years Donovan was indeed a member of ours, but he broke openly and publicly with us almost a year ago - a fact widely known within the British left. No reasonable person would attribute any responsibility to us for his actions.
We condemn Ian Donovan's attack and stand ready to defend Eibhlin McDonald, or any other SLer, against similar assaults in the future. It should, however, be very clear that the roots of this incident lie in Donovan's experiences in the SL/B, not the IBT.
London, 17 February 1999