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The Left Archive: Resistance – Magazine of the University Republican Clubs c.1972 June 30, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Official Sinn Féin, Workers' Party.
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Resistance was a magazine (originally entitled Republican News) produced by the Republican Clubs in Trinity College Dublin during the early 1970s. The RCs had been founded in the late 1960s but had been ‘defunct for some time due to the imprisonment of Conor Lynch and Pat O’Sullivan’. Revived it immediately ‘voted in favour of affiliation to Sinn Féin Gardiner Place’. The E.E.C. provided a ready made issue to organise around – although the magazine notes that the efforts of the Republican Clubs to assist in the development of a ‘broad based Socialist Alliance of left wing groups such as the Markievich Society, the Labour Party and the Maoists on such common issues as the EEC… petered out…[as] these groups seemed to be more interested in talking for the most part about their own policies and refusing to give any ground on them’.

As ever with such groups the magazine notes the ‘first sale of the United Irishman amounted to 25 dozen copies within the College…’.

The tone is intriguing. For example one reads that the ‘Club will continue its policy of challenging political hacks on open platforms in the University, and will intensify its efforts to show up the bankruptcy of Free State capitalism’. Didn’t hear much of that language in later years.

Note the coverage of both the (Official) Sinn Féin Ard Fhéis and the Communist Party Congress. This period, particularly in the run-up the the EEC vote saw considerable cooperation between OSF, the CPI and the left in the Labour Party through the Liaison of the Left.

The E.E.C. is characterised in an article as an instrument of U.S. policy developed in order to be a ‘defensive ring set up to protect capitalist interests in Western Europe…’ although it acknowledges in passing that ‘though political idealism may have motivated some of the individuals involved, and undoubtedly inspired many of the ordinary people, it is the nature of the underlying forces which determine the nature of the Community’.

Another article of note is the piece penned by a ‘worker’ with the title ‘How could students participate in working class activities’ which probably has even more relevance today than when it was written. Whether the not entirely idyllic relationship the ‘worker’ describes when s/he recalls ‘fraternisation’ between students and workers in the dim and distant past was ever accurate, the article certainly articulates various perceptions.

It also references the Internationalist-Maoist’s in rather uncomplimentary terms… which in fairness to the latter indicates that their reputation succeeded them ‘the revolutionary Maoists adopted a ‘bull in a china shop strategy': superficially it may appear a correct even courageous action on the part of the student-revolutionary who takes up a job in a factory…hoping to raise the political consciousness of the workers…from the worker’s point of view the situation may not be so clear-cut. He knows there is vast unemployment in the country: he will most likely have a relative or friend searching for a job, yet here is a member of the privileged classes denouncing on the one hand the rotteness of the political system we live under and on the other hand helping to exacerbate the problems created by that system by taking up a job he doesn’t need and thus depriving the worker’s relations and friends’.

The old OSF/WP pragmatism (and antagonism) evident there then.

And another trait of that group is the complete absence of any reference to their rivals for the Republican title, for not one direct mention of the Provisionals can be found throughout. Instead in an article on Civil Rights it is noted that:

“Pure” national struggle goes to the other extreme from “pure” social struggle [an interesting reference to preceding thoughts on the Derry Labour Party]. It sees anti-imperialism in oversimplified military terms. The British are to be got out of Ireland by force of arms and whoever assists them must be dealt with as a collaborator. Therefore the Protestant working class is delivered a simple ultimatum rather than opened up through democratic channels for mass agitation to develop its objective interest against imperialism.

And there is also indirectly a reference from the CPI Congress where it is noted that a resolution ‘condemned ‘bling cats of violence by ‘elitist’ anti-Unionist groups [and] pointed out that ‘the state terror inaugurated by the British Army cannot be defeated by such acts of counter violence directed at civilians in their places of work, their centres of social gatherings and other public places. Such acts only help to grieviously divide the working people.’.

For those cynical about political activities rooted in third level institutions the magazine when detailing the history of the Republican Club in TCD notes that ‘[during 1970 and 1971] the people who had started the Club had by now graduated…’

A perennial problem…

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Comments»

1. Jim Monaghan - June 30, 2008

They had Matthews (later an economist on Agricultural issues.) O’Sullivan who I knew when I was in the Sticks.( cannot remember first names, must be age) I think it had a fairly good reputation for thoughtful articles on a lot of issues.Was there a connection with the Wolfe Tone Society which functioned as a sort of Officials Think tank.I would gues that it was a lot more easy going before the dead hand of the underground cumanns controlled by Harris.
If I am right there was a ban on a Republican club in UCD.Even the Labout Party organised up to ’68 on a joint basis with Trinity because of a UCD ban on all political parties.
On the Provos my impression was they in Dublin anyway were fairly apolitical. What was the remark by Danaher about marxist pamphlets?
In 68 Rory Quinn was Chair and Roger Cole( Trinity) was vice Chair.

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2. Garibaldy - June 30, 2008

Very interesting document. Interesting to see the appraisals of the weaknesses of the various clubs, as well as the sophistication of some of the articles. High quality stuff overall I would have thought.

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3. ejh - June 30, 2008

What are “bling cats of violence”? I suspect none of my guesses are very close to the truth.

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4. Starkadder - June 30, 2008

“The RCs had been founded in the late 1960s but had been ‘defunct for some time due to the imprisonment of Conor Lynch and Pat O’Sullivan’”

Does anyone know what happened to Lynch and O’Sullivan?
I’m sure they were in the Cork Housing Action Committee
as well as Sinn Fein. I was looking them up in the Irish
Times archive but apparently there’s no reference to
them after the early seventies.

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5. WorldbyStorm - June 30, 2008

“bling cats of violence” are actually ‘blind acts of…’. Apologies. The dangers of transcribing early in the morning.

Thanks for the extra info Jim and Starkadder…

Garibaldy, I’d agree and although the presentation is a bit bockety (to use the technical term) it’s at least as good as CPI-ML stuff from years later. Actually in production terms it’s better.

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6. Garibaldy - June 30, 2008

Yeah relatively well produced, and the level of the analysis is good too. I found the report of the Ard Fheis, especially the first column, extremely interesting. Had meant to say that earlier.

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7. Jim Monaghan - June 30, 2008

Would Conor Lynch be a son of veteran Cork Republican later IRSP Jack Lynch (yes another one) who went BICO after a stint in jail in England.

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8. NollaigO - June 30, 2008

The reference to Conor Lynch and Pat O’Sullivan is inaccurate.The article in the magazine refers to the UCC Republican club which was launched in 1968, early 1969. Conor Lynch and I were founding members members Pat O’ Sullivan was a member of the Republican Movement in the city. While he was a frequent visitor to political meetings in “de College” he was not a student. I wrote the letter applying for political recognition as a college society, fully expecting to be refused. The new UCC president, a Dr MacCarty, turned out to be too shrewd to walk into that trap and permission to organise in the university was granted. IIRC, members of Trinity RC spoke at our first meetings. I remember Ronnie Lindsey (?), Dalton Kelly {(known nowadays as Daltún Ó Ceallaigh) and Eoghan O Murchú speaking at our meetings. Our main political activity was in the Cork Housing Action Committee[CHAC]. An occupation of the City Hall by Republican supporters of the CHAC led to them being jailed in Limerick for 14 days for non payment of fines. Around the same period a bitter industrial dispute for union recognition led to 13 buses, used to transport scabs being burned and destroyed. Pat O’Sullivan was arrested for the action as the Branch found skin burns on his face when they raided his house the following morning. Fortunately, at Pat’s court case, a member of the public came forward and explained that he had a clear recollection of meeting Pat in a pub in Cork early that evening and remembering that Pat’s face was burned – defective paraffin stove a bhí ciontach. Unfortunately, Pat and Conor were not so lucky in teir next court appearance. An unsuccessful raid on a weapons factory in Dagenham, London occurred in early summer 1969. Pat and Conor were arrested in the area. Evidence given at their trial, that they were in the area arranging summer trips to Ireland for youths from a London Irish background, was not accepted. The evidence was given by Jim Lane, who has been mentioned previously in the Left Archive. Conor and Pat received a seven years’ prison sentence.
In jail, Conor changed his politics and became a supporter of and a prolific writer for BICO. He still writes for the Irish Political Review. Pat never resumed active politics after getting out of jail. he now lives in America.
I remember visiting Conor’s parents, in the mid 1970s. His father Jack was an inspiring republican socialist from the 1930s and a Curragh internee durin the Emergency. On the visit he recalled a recent meeting with Harris, Cathal Goulding and aformer editor of the United Irishman. Harris told Jack that he enjoyed reading Conor’s writings and agreed with 80% of his views. The former editor added ” ..and you do too Goulding.if you’d only admit it.”

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kieran connolly - September 8, 2009

Dear Nollaig

I became chair of the Republican Club in UCC in 1971 on its “re-founding”. One of our major campaigns was obviously support for Lynch and O’ Sullivan. I too went to meet Jack Lynch. It turned out we both came from the same town in West Cork, Dunmanway, and my father had been in the IRA with him in the 1930s (I didnt know that before I met him) I became a friend of his and worked with him and John Madden (who died recently) in West Cork in the early 1970s. He was a great character, great storyteller and great company but he was not a very deep politcal thinker. I think he preferred the “modh direach” with weapons before anyrhing else. When the IRSP split took place I was very sorry that he went with them but I remained friends with him after that. I used to have a drink with him when he came to the annual festival in our home town. He is buried there and I visit his grave whenever I “go home”.

His youngest son John had a very “colourful career” took a very different course to that taken by Conor, he was more like his father. He now lives in Dunmanway and is a pillar of the community, promoting hurling in a football town and a member of the local race committee (previously run by my father, now run by my brother, so the connections continue)

His other son Barry is, I believe, a very successful business-man in Cork city. Three brothers, three very different paths!

I remained with the Officials until the early 1990s when I was “constructively dismissed” along with Eamonn Smullen. because of my opposition to the dominance of the Dail party. For once in my life I was able to predict the political future and suggested that they would disband Northern Ireland and eventually join with Labour.

So, if you are interested, I would love to hear from you

Regards

Kieran Connolly

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NollaigO - December 15, 2009

Kieran
Thanks for that post. A response is long overdue – recent email from Seán O Tuama, whose parents knew Jack, has reminded me of your post.
WbS will give you my direct email if you mail him.

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9. WorldbyStorm - June 30, 2008

That’s remarkable Jim. I’d noticed the UCC ref in the article but thought nothing of it. Certainly a remarkable shift politically, wasn’t it? What did his father make of it all?

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10. Garibaldy - June 30, 2008

Is it that remarkable to go from SF to BICO, especially that early on? But the group dynamic within BICO has certainly been remarkable, as they have shifted en masse.

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11. Starkadder - July 1, 2008

Thanks for that info NollaigO. I’m sure there’s a very interesting
book that could be written about the period and the political
groups involved with it-Roy Johnston has discussed some
of it in “Century of Endeavour “,as has Jim Lane in
his later pamphlets,but it still needs an in-depth analysis.

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12. WorldbyStorm - July 1, 2008

Well, I guess that’s the definition of the term ‘group dynamic’… but it is remarkable.

Sorry, I meant to say thanks to NollaigO for that as well.

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13. Starkadder - July 1, 2008

Actually, I’m sure Johnston, Harris, & Mary Leland were
in the Wolfe Tone Society in the ’60s.

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14. Garibaldy - July 1, 2008

Dunno about Leland, but the other two were.

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15. Fintan Lane - July 2, 2008

Jack Lynch was a neighbour of my parents (and myself until I left home) and a good family friend. He was also a member – along with my father Jim Lane – of the Cork City and County National H-Block Committee and the local IRSP branch. Indeed, Jack was very active in enlisting ‘safe houses’ for on-the-run republicans in the west Cork area, where he came from, for many years, so he never abandoned his support for physical-force republicanism. He disagreed with Conor’s BICO politics, obviously.

I have fond memories of Jack. He was a real 1940s-style republican, more gunman than politico but not anti-political. Salt of the earth in many ways.

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16. WorldbyStorm - July 2, 2008

It’s strange, although maybe not, even in families this split between quite different (well, in the case of BICO – very different) visions was played out. Thanks for that Fintan.

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17. john keane - June 16, 2011

A Republican Club was formed in UCD in January 1970 immdiately after the Ard Fheis walk out by the emergent provisionals.

The core group of the UCD club were student activists from Belfast Derry and Newry who had been involved in Nicra and PD but there were members from throughout the 32 counties.

Meetings were held in room in Pearse St provided by TCD Republican Club.

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18. scholarships and grants - September 2, 2011

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NollaigO - September 2, 2011

??

Ar strae?

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19. Gabby - September 2, 2011

@8 above Nollaig O. Ron Lindsay at Trinity in the late ’60s graduated in law and went off to the far east for a few years before later getting a legal job in East Africa or somewhere. Alan Matthews went out to a similar area in Africa before going to USA for postgrad studies, and later returned to an academic career in ag. economics at Trinity. He was in the Labour Party, then helped set up the SLP with Noel Browne, Matt Merrigan and others. In recent years has criticised the agricultural subsidies dished out by the EU and Irish Govt to Irish farmers. Doesn’t seem to have any current political affiliations.

Interesting to note that in UCD around 1970 Tony Gregory helped set up a Republican Club. He eventually fell out with the Stickies over northern policy, and went into local politics as an independent, getting elected to the corpo. The rest is inner city and national history.

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20. john flavin - February 3, 2012

i was informed recently that conor lynch passed away in jan 2012 in the athol bookshop in belfast .can anybody confirm this?

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