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Irish Left Archive: An Solas – The voice of the Official Republican Movement, November 2005 January 26, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Official Republican Movement (1990s/2000s).



A useful document donated to the Archive offers an opportunity to consider the most recent off-shoot of the Official Sinn Féin, later Workers’ Party, brand of socialist Republicanism.

Look up Official Republican Movement on, say, wikipedia, and the most one will read is:

In the late 1990s, some Northern based former Official IRA members launched a “re-founded” Official Republican Movement, intended to pursue the socialist republican politics which the Officials espoused in the 1970s. They are not thought to advocate the use of violence however.

The history is a little more complex than that reading (and there is another document donated to the Archive which I intend to post up as soon as a guest writer finishes a piece on it).

What is interesting about this document is that it supports the contention that the ORM was mainly centred on Newry and it demonstrates a strongly retrospective tilt to that organisation. The address for the ORM is the same as An Eochair, an ex-OIRA prisoners support group. Note the Seminar organised by the ORM on Republicanism, Nationalism and Unionism which included speakers from both Republican and Unionist traditions.

The concerns of the ORM are certainly within the range of traditional socialist Republicanism. There is a good report on the Grundtvig European Women’s Project where An Eochair was also involved in a visit of the former to Belfast. Also notable is a piece on a Cross Community conference with a mention of the Sinn Féin Mayor of Derry where – remarkably – the Mayor gave a commemorative plaque of the Conference to an An Eochair member.

The editorial on the inside page on decommissioning by the IRA, while hardly fulsome, is at least positive in tone. A review of DVD on the Falls Curfew of 1970 is much more pointed, directly blaming SF for what it sees as a propagandistic attempt to rewrite history to their benefit.

However most significant is an analysis which reflects upon the Official IRA and its development. Note the reference to ‘people evolved from the Workers’ Party to form the ORM, an organisation not afraid to admit its mistakes and successes and defend the name of the O.I.R.A.’

This, perhaps, explains the dynamic of the ORM, an intriguing mixture of civil society social activism with a strong sense of an historical continuity with a very specific phase in the life of socialist Republicanism. In some respects the ORM almost appears like an organisation in search of a party structure.

In sum a fascinating document.


1. Tim Von Bondie - January 26, 2009

More stickies! Would someone please donate a few An Phoblachts or something!


2. Mark P - January 26, 2009

This stuff is interesting precisely because it isn’t available easily elsewhere, whether you agree with the groups concerned or not. There’s no shortage of Provo apologetics on the internet already, so duplicating that can hardly be as much of a priority. Still, the archive does include Provo material and, a bit more interestingly, stuff from Provo splinter groups too, notably the League of Communist Republicans.


3. Pete - January 26, 2009

Yeah, lets discuss the Provo non-existant policy docs on the economy etc – if the Provos had something to say beyond gives more power then it might be worth while


4. Tim Von Bondie - January 26, 2009

Didn’t see much on the economy in the above. Plenty on socialist republicanism in AP/RN 1980 onwards or Republican News 1976-, thats all I’m asking for.
The Sticky stuff is fascinating, no really it is….but every other week!?


5. WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2009

Tim, you raise a very good point. There is more stuff coming in from other groups but it is true that Provisional SF material is thin on the ground despite repeated request from me for donations. Call the concentration on OSF stuff an historical legacy, but don’t worry, I’ve PD, SWM, BICO, CPI-ML and other material on line. And with luck possibly even some material from the Border Campaign. I’ve already noted that I’ve IRA and SF pre split United Irishman’s which I’ll be posting up this year…


6. Garibaldy - January 26, 2009

There has been this week and last week. And I think the one before that was De Rossa’s 1989 speech in December, and before that I think the Billy McMillen lecture in October. That’s leaving aside the question of whether if we are going to consider this item as “sticky” then why not the IRSP, or even the Provos themselves as all are splits from the parent organisation.

As Mark P points out above the strength of the Left Archive is in making available material hard to find elsewhere. If people want to broaden the range of material available, simply contact WBS. If you’re that concerned Tim, you could go to the library and take photos or photocopies of PSF stuff and send it along. One absence we might note is that of left unionists (beyond BICO who are a special case). That’s not a plot against unionism. It’s simply that people haven’t offered the material from say the PUP or whoever.


7. Garibaldy - January 26, 2009

One other point. The WP was for most of the period covered by the Left Archive (basically the late 1960s to the 1980s) the leading left-wing force on the island. It’s fairly natural that its material will feature prominently.


8. NollaigO - January 26, 2009

You have the Saor Eire stuff for some time as well.


9. WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2009

Very true Nollaig0, and some PD stuff of your unless I’m much mistaken?

Also another area I’d love to get material is trade union publications across the years… anarchist material… green party and associated…etc, etc… etc…

Garibaldy, I’d also be chuffed to get some PUP material…


10. Jim Monaghan - January 26, 2009

On a provo related footnote. Many regard Eire Nua as a rehash of Roy Johnstons stuff. The end of the 4 provinces line was regarded as a victory for the Provo left.
There were very interesting prisoner material in the 80s. It was sanitised by an official (no pun) publication later on.
I can ask John Meehan for some RMG stuff. I don,t know how to scan, alas.


11. WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2009

If you can post it Jim then I will scan it and send it back to you.

I have Éire Nua, actually I have two copies! I’ll post it up over the next month or so.


12. WorldbyStorm - January 26, 2009

Can I just say thanks to all of you for still dropping by? It’s much appreciated.


13. Garibaldy - January 26, 2009


Have you seen the exchange of letters between Brian Keenan when in gaol and Jack Conrad of the people now calling themselves the CPGB (the weekly worker people) on their website? It hints at some of the stuff you are talking about, but also reveals the hollowness of the portrayal of Keenan as some great Marxist.


14. Leveller on the Liffey - January 26, 2009

As someone who had a foot in both Official and Provie camps (but now both planted in the latter), I must take issue with Tim’s disparaging remarks about the alleged frequency of CLR reprinting historical documents from the OSF/OIRA and now ORM (BTW: I don’t believe we’ve been deluged with the stuff).
I thought BICO were bonkers but they are, nonetheless, part of the history of the Irish Left (good, bad or otherwise) and I find CLR’s look back interesting.
CLR is providing a valuable service with the Irish Left Archive – long may it continue with, I hope, fraternal good wishes from all sides.


15. WorldbyStorm - January 27, 2009

Again appreciated. You’ll like – I hope – some of the material coming along soon…


16. Joe - January 27, 2009

Can I just say thanks to all of you for still dropping by? It’s much appreciated.

Can I just say (I hope on behalf of all of us) to all of you, WBS, thanks for the site. It’s seriously very much appreciated.


17. WorldbyStorm - January 27, 2009

Ta, cheers, labour of love at this stage…


18. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen Linken - eine Auswahl « Entdinglichung - January 30, 2009

[…] Official Republican Movement (ORM): An Solas, Oktober […]


19. The Irish Left Archive: United Irishman 2000 – Official Republican Movement « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - December 7, 2009

[…] think it is fair to say originates from the general direction of the Official Republican Movement, a 1990s split from the Workers’ Party, with a selection of guest contributors. That it takes the form of a reworked United Irishman […]


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