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The Left Archive: “People’s Voice” from Saor Éire, 1968 July 28, 2008

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Saor Éire.
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All the following is wrong. This document is from the Cork based Maoist group Saor Éire…not the other Saor Éire, check out NollaigO’s links for a more accurate view on the group. Apologies.

NollaigO is of course completely correct and my analysis is based on… er… nothing! I blame the Summer. The clue is of course in the address on the second to last page… that said the thing that threw me completely was the letter to Republicans which claimed it was from comrades.

People’s Voice from Saor Éire was a publication from 1968. Saor Éire have to be one of the more interesting, and perhaps infamous, left-wing Irish Republican groups not least because it’s composition and attitude positioned it firmly in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It was founded in 1967 by members of the Young Socialists and a number of IRA members and this wiki page gives a good overview. This inflammable mix of Trotskyist and Republican thinking coming when it did perhaps made Saor Éire one of the most activist of the small groups during this period. Their main area of armed activities was bank robberies – one of which led to the fatal shooting of Garda Richard Fallon (an inglorious act which marked the first death of an Irish Garda or Army member during the Troubles) – and as time progressed this led to assertions that gangsterism had overwhelmed the organisation. One of the problems looking in from the outside is the seeming lack of activities other than bank raids. An article by Liam O Ruairc on the Blanket [available only on Google cache] notes this. There are also further thoughts from NollaigO here on the Cedar Lounge [scroll down].

By the early 1970s it had disbanded. Yet on paper its membership was composed of apparently serious former members of the IRA which makes the lack of paramilitary activities odd, to say the least. That said, as also noted by some commentators, it was a far more disparate grouping than the wiki entry gives it credit.

In light of this one of the most interesting aspects of this publication is the “Open Letter to Republicans” which addresses the still pre-split Sinn Féin. It’s an interesting analysis which argues that the dilemma facing Republicanism is ‘parliamentarianism’. Here’s a paragraph to ring down the years…

As a movement advocating a programme of reform via constitutionalism, the Republican Movement is certainly faced with a dilemma which would not and could not arise if it were a radical movement. Apparently, the leadership of the movement has been forced by the realities of their position to recognize that the movement cannot be other than it presently is. Consequently the main question facing all Republicans is whether they wish to be parliamentary reformists in the tradition of the Labour Party; or radicals in the tradition of their own revolutionary heritage. Should they opt for the former, then it appears the only logical course lies in disbanding their movement and integrating with the Labour Party. Should they prefer the latter, then it is equally logical that they must disband their movement and join with other radicals thorughout the country in the building of a new radical effort.

On the other hand it is hard not to feel that somehow despite being entirely of their times on one axis – that of the general strands of the late 1960s in European further left political terms, they were entirely atypical and ill-suited for what was about to happen next on the island when armed struggle would revolve largely around issues of nationalism.

One may wonder whether their assertion that ‘it is impossible to have two radical movements in any country be it big or small’ is anywhere near correct, or whether their rather diffuse definition of ‘radical’ has any serious currency in liberal democracies, but the logic for reformists is interesting, and borne out eventually by circumstance.

The rhetoric does become a little overblown…

Let all radicals once more be one under the banner of Socialist struggle in Ireland; by so uniting be once more invincible in the cause of the People.

But then, Saor Éire seems, in retrospect to have been perhaps more an ideal than an actuality. Any thoughts on the document and the nature of Saor Éire would be welcomed.

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1. NollaigO - July 28, 2008

WbS
Shorely Shome mistake!
As Fintan Lane pointed out previously on CLR, its important not to mix the Cork based Saor Éire who printed the above journal and who werw a sne maoist grouping with the national Saor Éire who were essentially bank robbers.
More later.

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2. NollaigO - July 28, 2008

Botún:
“…who werw a sne maoist grouping …”
should read
“..who were a sane Maoist grouping..”

I should also have mentioned that Jim Lane, who has been featured in the Left Archive previously , was involved with the People’s Voice Saor Éire.

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3. Starkadder - July 28, 2008

On page 6, we learn that the Sunday Independent fawned
over a US Republican President.

Some things never change….

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4. Mark P - July 28, 2008

Yes, Nollaig0 seems to be right. The subscription address is at Nicholas Place, Cork. And anyway, as far as I know the national Saor Eire didn’t have a newspaper or magazine.

As Maoist journals go this one is pretty good. There isn’t much in the way of jargon or badly translated Chinese slogans. It looks very amateurish though.

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5. crocodile - July 28, 2008

In yesterday’s Sunday Times the satirical novelist Carl Hiassen tells of 2 far-right militia men whose bank-robbing conviction he covered in his days as a crime reporter:
‘It [their house] was all paranoid ‘America’s about to be invaded by the UN sort of stuff. Of course, they weren’t so patriotic it prevented them robbing banks.’
Who is?

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6. Jim Monaghan - July 30, 2008

There was a commoration for Maureen Keegan at Mount Jerome Church a few years ago. Ranor Lysaght organised it. Liam Walsh’s grave is there. His children attended.
I talked to a 50’s veteran who claimed the credit for the Nelson thing and expressed his regrets at recruiting Garland.
On the banks I never heard that any of it was diverted for personal purposes. While I disagree with the political and military strategy of Saor Eire, by all accounts they were dedicated militants.
At the time there was a real fear of further Loyalist pogroms and thus a need for defence of the Nationalist ghettoes.

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7. Fintan Lane - July 30, 2008

WBS: “that said the thing that threw me completely was the letter to Republicans which claimed it was from comrades.”

There’s no reason why this should have confused you into thinking it was the Dublin-based Saor Eire Action Group. The Cork-based Saor Eire was largely made up of former IRA members as well, including several who had actively participated in the 1950s border campaign.

By and large, the (Cork) Saor Eire members were working-class left-republicans who moved towards Maoism in the mid to late 1960s. This explains what Mark P has referred to as the lack of ‘jargon’ typically associated with 1960s and 1970s Maoism. The purveyors of jargon were usually from the student milieu and, I guess, were more interested in impressing each other and the rest of leftworld than actually engaging with working class communities.

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8. Starkadder - July 30, 2008

That’s interesting, Fintan,abouth the
two Saor Eire groups. It might insightful
for someone to write an article or pamphlet on the
left-wing groups in Ireland in the late Sixties (I know
Jim Lane has written some material on the period in
Cork in
the Cork City Library).

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9. WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2008

Sorry Fintan, my level of knowledge on this is nowhere near as good as yours. If you or anyone, to take Starkadders thoughts one step, would like to write a proper intro to this I’d be very grateful.

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10. Fintan Lane - July 31, 2008

Sorry, WBS, no can do as I’m off to Berlin, where I shall remain until mid-August. That said, I’d be happy to write an introduction on this group, and their antecedents, if you web-publish any more of their stuff in the future.

Tschüss.

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11. Finian - July 31, 2008

My father, a Garda, was believed to have been killed by Saor Éire in 1970. However it has been suggested that those who were accused and acquited of his murder were framed. Can anyone enlighten me?

I am not looking for anyone to be punished or jailed, just the truth. My family has suspected for a long time that the gang members were protected by the State (and were possibly being run by the State). For example, in 2006 the Government revealed to a journalist that the brother of a Fianna Fáil minister had been seen in London in the company of a member of Saor Éire shortly before the Arms Trial.

I’m surprised by the possibility that there may been two organisations, one in Cork. I would like to speak with anyone who has direct knowledge of the organisation. Again, I and my family are not looking for revenge. It would mean a great deal to me and my siblings to know the truth and close the door on this incredibly destructive experience.

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12. Fintan Lane - July 31, 2008

“I’m surprised by the possibility that there may been two organisations, one in Cork.”

Finian, this isn’t a possibility, it is a fact. The Cork-based Saor Eire were rather taken aback when a group of largely Dublin-based republicans began to publicly claim robberies as the ‘Saor Eire Action Group’. This second Saor Eire eventually recruited a couple of members in Cork, but they had no organisational connection whatsoever with the pre-existing Saor Eire, which published the newspaper above.

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13. Finian - July 31, 2008

Fintan, there was no attempted diminution of your belief in your “fact” through my use of the term “possibility”.

This is the first time that I have come across this information (about there being two separate organisations) and I have been discussing and researching this issue for some time. I see that this information was only recently published elsewhere however as far as I am aware any previous references to Saor Éire (that I have come across in the National Archives or in publications) did not differentiate between the Cork and Dublin organisations, hence my use of the term. I was attempting to be as objective as I could be in fairness to all concerned.

What really concerns me is that no one with direct knowledge of the death of my father has stepped forward publicly to date in order to defend, explain or denounce whatever stance was taken at the time and which resulted in the death of my father. Nor have any known members of either Saor Éire group stepped forward with information on the case that might resolve the issues I have raised publicly for many years. I have stated publicly on a number of occasions that I do not want anyone jailed for this murder and if anyone was after stepping forward publicly I would support any protest against this.

I believe this silence to be completely at odds with whatever principles peaceful supporters of the left would avow and wonder at their 48 year silence on the matter. There were many who knew exactly what went on in Dublin in those days and they have yet to reveal their experience of the story.

I realise that I am opening myself to verbal attack here however I am risking that in the hope of an open and respectful dialogue with whomever wishes to participate. That said, I don’t relish having this discussion in public as I am exposed to the possibility of whatever information that appears here being made public in a way which demeans what I consider to be an honourable and just pursuit of the truth.

My question, my challenge, to those who know remains: “Can anyone enlighten me?”

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14. WorldbyStorm - July 31, 2008

Finian, it would seem from the paper that the two groups weren’t linked. In fairness here we’re dealing with some very small groups, and the main interest is in published material. I’ve not seen any material from the other much better known Saor Éire and if any comes to light it’ll be flagged up. As regards the justifications for the murder I don’t know enough about SÉ to even suggest whether they gave any. That SÉ, from the Blanket article, seems to have ultimately been a gangster organisation with a shell of politically motivated activists.

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15. The Securocat - August 1, 2008

The only published documents coming from the Saor Eire connected to the Garda Fallon incidents were:
– The Saor Eire Manifesto
– A Red Mole interview in 1971
– A 1973 letter from some of its imprisoned members calling for the organisation to stand down.

As Peter Graham was the main political brains behond the group, it is not surprising that it did not come up with more material after his murder.

Finian: check wikipedia under Jim Lane – it is very informative regarding the Cork group.

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16. WorldbyStorm - August 1, 2008

The Securocrat, you don’t happen to know where I could source copies of same for the Archive?

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17. eannai - September 15, 2008

Saor eires unit in cork was formed when some members who had escaped from the enfield raid were contacted after their dissmissal from the then republican movement and began requieting amongst dissafeccted members and ex members.There was a number of small militant left wing groups in cork at the time and there was close co-operation bweeten them,paticularly during the derry riots in august 1969, when a number of cork people travelled to derry wih some weapons. Saor Eire never succeded in becoming a coherent organisation for two main reasons, 1.It was never able to form a united military structre with a central command over the various units, this led to ;a. no unified stragety, and b; no delevopement of an agreed political philosophy, and as the membership was drawn from dissafected republicans it encompessed a variety of of republican opinion. This lack of strong central leadership led to internal in fighting, and the formation of different cliques using the name Saor Eire some with teneous connections. 2. The formation of the Proviosnal movement, and its sucess in reqruiting, and sourceing arms made Soar Eires major focus at this time i.e. arming northren nationalists redundant.

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18. WorldbyStorm - September 15, 2008

But that’s the other Saor Éire isn’t it?

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19. Owen - May 7, 2009

Finian
Garda Fallon killers got their day in court and were found not guilty.
You were only 3 when you lost your father, I was 3 years of age when my hero died for what he belived in. Our lives will never be the same without them, It seems to me you are looking for the smoking gun, Well the man Cj who knew about that is also dead.
He too had his day in court and went on to great thing’s Ireland.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam

stephendorri.
Christy Dunne was not a member of Saor Eire, Dublin or Cork,
He did however know the Walsh’s from childhood day’s that’s all. This also was before the Irish courts with the “rag” Smack.

Liam Walsh was killed in October 1970 at Black Horse Ave Dublin 7.
He was not alone at the time.

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20. Tarnation - July 10, 2009

Owen you obviously know a bit about what went on. Unfortunately your response is not very clear, logical or consistent. It confirms that people who support destruction of this kind eventually lose touch with logic and truth.

You only have to look at what is going on in the Middle East and how despicable acts are being defended with utterly illogical rationales to understand that.

That you can equate the death of a “hero” (presumably unrelated to you) with the family of Garda Fallon losing their father is appalling. There is nothing heroic about using a gun and murdering an unarmed policeman. Nor is this comparable with going out with the intent to murder someone else and getting killed in the process.

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Cas - September 11, 2011

Do you think it fair to state that the three men are guilty, when a court has found otherwise? Do you further think it is fair to feed speculation of that kind to a victim who could hardly be expected to look at it with any measure of discernment, having spent a lifetime hungering for tit-bits of information? Unless you have sound information available to you that you are quite sure, then it would be better not to abuse that vulnerable man by offering your suspicions and gossip. But maybe you do know something concrete?

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21. Budapestkick - April 22, 2010

They were quite an interesting grouping. Particularly as a lot of the criticisms they raised in the early/mid 60s of the IRA leadership was implicitly recognised by Goulding et al. Also, for anyone interested, the first 5 issues of their paper (An Phoblacht) are available in Cork City Library thanks to Jim Lane.

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22. Left Archive: An Phoblacht Issues 1 and 2, Irish Revolutionary Forces, 1965 | The Cedar Lounge Revolution - May 20, 2013

[…] These documents, An Phoblacht, Issues 1 and 2, were published by the Irish Revolutionary Forces, a Cork based republican socialist group composed in the main of former members of the IRA, in September and November of 1965 [for more information see here]. The IRF would become Saor Éire in 1968 (a copy of their publication, People’s Voice is in the Archive here). […]

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23. dragon city hack android - February 26, 2014

Very descriptive post, I enjoyed that a lot.

Will there be a part 2?

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