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Irish Left Archive: What Happened in Derry. Eamonn McCann (1972), A Socialist Worker Pamphlet February 2, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Socialist Workers' Movement.



Firstly this document is available at CAIN in black and white (and perhaps this is preaching to the converted, but there is a store of interesting material from the Troubles there). I hope this version is a bit more true to its actual physical presence incorporating the colour cover, map sections and gray scale pages.

Notable are the introduction by Bernadette Devlin and the reproduction of the front page of the Official Republican “The Starry Plough”.

This provides a forensic and extremely clear overview of the events on the day that captures both the rage that was felt by those who had experienced it and a sense that it provided a pivotal turning point in the course of the relationship between state and people during this period.


1. Jim Monaghan - February 2, 2009

In the period after 1972 things got worse. It is probably very hard for people now to fully comprehend the worry there was of even worse pogroms than those which occured. There was a real fear in the air.
Both PD and the RMG thought that a Rhodesian type scenario would occur with Paisley/Craig/West junta and all that implied. PD called it the Fascist takeover, the RMG the Loyalist takeover.Hence the strategy of defence of the ghettoes.McCann is probably the best mass appeal writer the Left here has ever produced.
I was talking to my eldest when I realised that what was part of my life was a history lesson to him.


2. Starkadder - February 2, 2009

Interesting that the pamphlet reprints an article from the Official
Republican Movement at the back.

Also of note is the intro by Devlin, which seems to be aimed at
the British reader (basically telling them “you may find it hard to
believe your Army could do such a thing”).


3. Garibaldy - February 2, 2009

McCann may have been editing tthe Starry Plough at the time. He was certainly well got with the people in charge up there from their time in the Derry Housing Action Committee onwards. There were elements of the Republican Clubs up there who agreed with Mc Cann’s version of Marxism.


4. Declan Giggs - February 2, 2009

Its actually a British International Socialists pamphlet, rather than an Irish SWM publication. Hence London address and Devlin’s tone. She was a sitting MP at the time.


5. Starkadder - February 2, 2009

“There were elements of the Republican Clubs up there who agreed with Mc Cann’s version of Marxism.”

If I remember McCann’s “War And Peace in Northern Ireland”, correctly, he was unhappy with the Workers’ Party but thought the IRSP might
have had progressive potential if it ditched the violence and

I remember reading the 1965 issues of “An Solas” last year, and McCann did an article there praising the Ulster playwright Sam Thompson’s work.


6. Mark P - February 2, 2009

Yes, neither McCann nor Devlin were in the SWM at this point (and Devlin never would be of course). But quite a few prominent figures in the North were in the orbit of or loosely sympathetic to the British IS


7. Garibaldy - February 2, 2009

According to McDonald and Holland’s book, McCann was in negotiations to join the IRSP but didn’t because they wanted first refusal on his journalism, which was how me made his living at the time. He certainly was unhappy with The WP


8. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen Linken - eine Auswahl « Entdinglichung - February 6, 2009

[…] Eamonn McCann: What Happened in Derry. A Socialist Worker Pamphlet […]


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