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Irish Left Archive: Workers Life: The Magazine for Workers, Sinn Féin: The Workers’ Party, February 1981 April 27, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Workers' Party.
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A relatively lavish production this. A 36 page magazine that covers a broad range of areas. That the production team contained many of those who would be involved in various other SFWP, WP and eventually Democratic Left publications is little surprise.

The editorial is a little coy about the provenance of the magazine (note for example that it isn’t explicitly badged as an SFWP production although clues are there, not least the advert on p.2 for The Bookshop, Gardiner Place). It states that…

Election fever is not in the air, although the media is full of nods and winks. Certainly all the parties are gearing up with constituency council meetings, appointing the necessary committees and generally clearing the decks…

Equally the Labour Party apart from one or two notable exceptions can be slotted into the overall concensus [sic] framework…

In some constituencies there will be an alternative, particularly in the hardest hit urban areas. Candidates of the stature of Tomas Mac Giolla, Joe Sherlock, Paddy Gallagher, John McManus, all of Sinn Féin The Workers’ Party, will be in the field. It is reasonable to state that more than their own constituencies and party will be taking an interest in their performance.

In keeping with the somewhat neutral tone of the overall presentation there is even a letter published from Matt Merrigan (then District Secretary of the ATGWU) chiding Eamonn Smullen for an ‘homily on trade union unity and soildarity’.

And what to make of an article under the heading Economic Life by the indefatigable Smullen on The need for cheap energy. More than one would have been taken aback to have read that:

It is impossible to have serious industrial development without cheap energy. Cheap energy now means either coal or nuclear power, or both, to generate electricity – it means that and it means nothing else at the same time.

Intriguingly the article then takes a more Northern Irish centred turn. Some too might have been surprised by his analysis that suggests:

“Neither is an all island electricity grid the answer to providing the necessary cheap supplies of electricity – the most optimistic estimate of the possible saving made by such a course is £9 million….

And continues:

The number out of work in NI remains very hight. It is useless to talk about reducing this number on a permanent basis unless the cost of generating electricity is substantially reduced.

And arrives at the, perhaps, surprising conclusion that:

The most important single question therefore for the working class in Northern Ireland is the organising of a campaign for the building of coal-fired electricity generating stations.

Elsewhere there is a featured article on Violence and the GAA which argues that Gaelic Athletic Association members…

Would be appalled by the covert and overt relationship which has existed between the Provisional terrorist organisation and the GAA in Northern Ireland.

And in order to substantiate this claim it continues that:

Facts which clearly underscore the correctness of the concern exressed by such leading GAA members as Tom Woulfe, Dublin and John Grady, Tipperary, former All-Ireland hurler. The clipping which we reproduce of the Anderstown News Saturday, December 6, is a damning indictment of the “violence-GAA syndrome”. The report claims that 3,000 members of the Association marched on the Falls Road to Casement Park in support of the H-Block campaign. Whether or not the figures are inflated and whether or not the clubs and members who marched did so with the support of their organisation, there is one brutal fact which stands out.
Casement Park is regarded as the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Northern Ireland.

Remarkably towards the centre of the magazine there is a small advertising section based around Heating and Ventilation.

There is also a piece, part of a series Women in Employment written by Aidan Carroll, which considers the Employment Equality Agency. Under Young Life the travails of USI are charted – some familiar old names appear, including one Joe Duffy (“who read the lesson at the Ballybrit youth mass during the Pope’s visit to Ireland”).

Fascism in Britain, a piece by Simon Frith on John Lennon, and a sense that some of the content wouldn’t have gone amiss inside the pages of the CPGB’s Marxism Today from the 1980s. It’s certainly one of the more professionally produced magazines of its sort during this period and the design and content are clearly positioned to be the equal of Magill or This Week – albeit without full colour covers. So very much of its time and indicative of the preoccupations of SFWP as they transitioned from OSF to the WP.

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Comments»

1. Jim Monaghan - April 27, 2009

“Would be appalled by the covert and overt relationship which has existed between the Provisional terrorist organisation and the GAA in Northern Ireland.”
Giving left cover for the murder of GAA officials and supporters. Am I exaggerating?
The GAA waas and is a broad chutch with a mix ofr practically everone supporting them. What was next targetting Man. U.
I speak as someone with little or no interest in sport, the new opium of the masses.

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2. Shane - April 27, 2009

Some good writing and work in this.
My initial reaction on seeing the cover was here comes another bash at the GAA without mention of the IRFU’s apartheid love in or indeed the FAI’s Pinochet salute. However in fairness there is a promise to look at the IRFU’s decision to tour South Africa in a subsequent issue. Yet the lack of political commentary of any sort in the review of the book on Irish football is interesting.
The GAA related interview itself was very much a document of its time. I think one could argue that the GAA’s presumed closeness to the provisionals was reaching its pinnacle in 1981. The H block campaign that summer undoubtedly impacted on a lot of GAA matches but I don’t think anything would quite have that visibility again.
The farmer bashing piece on page 4 “as usual, the Western farmers had the worst record” is like it is written direct from the boardroom or Irish Sugar. Not surprisingly Irish Sugar have a half page advert on page 18.
In the satirical piece ‘Siles Diary’ is ‘my bonnie meant to be CJH?
My favourite article in the whole magazine comes from their ‘fifty years ago’ page where they report District Justice Coll and his views on jazz.
“It has made a terrible number of people abnormal and these ‘jazz’ addicts have lost control of themselves. In fact you will see them on the streets…and they are being moved about and swaying to some imaginary ‘jazz’ music”

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3. WorldbyStorm - April 27, 2009

I’d agree the writing is good, albeit a bit odd in places, as in examples cited, and it’s pretty professional. I do think though that in its reading of H-Block it misses the point – deliberately or otherwise, that this was a mobilisation of a very different sort to that which had come before and whatever side of the fence one stood on the fact that some (and I have to say I think the article is incredibly mealy-mouthed about the actual linkage making insinuations – ‘whether or not’ etc) GAA members mobilised over it didn’t mean that they per se supported violence (although some no doubt did). It’s a lack of nuance that undermines the arguments made. And in its hectoring tone it predicts something we’d later see in the Indo etc…

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4. Paddy Matthews - April 27, 2009

Casement Park is regarded as the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Northern Ireland.

“Is regarded”? By whom exactly?

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5. WorldbyStorm - April 27, 2009

A partitionist mentality on the part of the writer?

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6. Cheebah and all that - Limerick, Ireland - April 28, 2009

It’s a jazz thing…

Photo owned by richardkaby (cc) Big night this Wednesday for the Limerick Jazz Society as Soweto Kinch comes to town as part of the David Lyttle 3. Upstairs in Dolans- full details here. David Lyttle says on his own site……

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7. Garibaldy - April 28, 2009

In fairness Jim, the article refers to a debate going on within the GAA itself, and also makes mention of similar questions being raised by RTÉ. I’d hardly describe reporting on and commenting on an ongoing debate as providing left cover for assassinations of any sort. But personally it’s not the sort of language that was helpful regardless of where it came from.

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8. Garibaldy - April 28, 2009

Colin Jordan, mentioned in the article on British fascism, has died. Obituary here

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/politics-obituaries/5232116/Colin-Jordan.html

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9. Jim Monaghan - April 28, 2009

“makes mention of similar questions being raised by RTÉ.”
By the Harris clique. The GAA was/is a mass organisation. As such it reflects the tensions in society. GAA officials were murdered. These were not as far as I know Provos. Even if they were is murder legitimate.
The Farmer bashing. I remember Harris blaming the farmer class for murdering the labourers during the famine at a Workers Union conference. . He then became Brutons best friend.
I would not take anything from Montrose without a pinch of salt.
Imagine the hue and cry if someone made an amalgam between the murderous activity of the North Korean go. and some of the visitors to that country over the last number of years.This is exactly what this article does. The Stalinists proper do it a lot. You oppose something. So does say the Tories, then you are a tory or worse. Oh, I suppose all the left is guilty of doing the amalgam, guilt by association stuff to a degree. The sticks with their media nous brough it to a new level.
The Stick leadership were a particlarly nasty shower. I have met some of the rank and file and middle rank cadre in various movements and they are fairly ok but I have little time for ther leaders and ex leaders.

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10. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen Linken « Entdinglichung - April 30, 2009

[…] * Sinn Féin – The Workers’ Party: Workers Life, Februar 1981 […]

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11. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen Linken « Entdinglichung - May 15, 2009

[…] * Sinn Féin – The Workers’ Party: Workers Life, Februar 1981 […]

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12. 11 Sixty Nine And Counting….. :: PRESIDENTIAL ADDRESS / BETRAYAL /TRADE UNIONS AND THE HUNGER-STRIKE. :: May :: 2010 - May 6, 2010

[…] , which was led by an ex-SFWP member, was responsible for the defeat of the SFWP candidate , Paddy Gallagher , who had also been defeated in the previous State general election. In the other areas they […]

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