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The Irish Left Archive: An Phoblacht: 1991, 75th Anniversary of the Rising Issue, Sinn Féin. June 15, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Sinn Féin.



This edition of An Phoblacht is devoted to the 75th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising. And therefore it provides an encapsulation of the Sinn Féin position at a time prior to the ceasefires and yet when the political dynamic was moving slowly towards a context where they would become possible. In this light the editorial is of particular interest. Added to this was the necessary legitimation of their then positions in the context of 1916, as when it explicitly argues that “IRA same then as now”.

In 1991, there are those who do not wish to remember 1916 because they fear the link will be made between the Irish Republican Army of today and its predecessors of Easter Week. There are others who will pay lip-service to 1916 and claim that the IRA of today is fundamentally different and not fighting in the same cause.

Both are wrong. The Irish Republican Army which came into being on the bullet-swept streets of Dublin in 1916, is the same IRA, fighting in the same cause, as that which confronts British rule in arms today.

From the perspective of the archive it is difficult to say that this is an explicitly left document although it is infused with language that tilts towards leftist concerns. Consider this quote from the editorial:

In decades of opposition to partition and upholding the ideals of the Proclamation, republicans have sacrificed much. They have also been proven right. Justice, equality and peace are not and never were possible in a partitioned Ireland. This is as true today as when partition was first imposed; the record of poverty, violence, unemployment, sectarianism, discrimination, unemployment, emigration – symptoms of political, social, economic and cultural failure in both states, proves the point.

And it concludes…

In one of his last messages during Easter Week, James Connolly paid tribute to all his comrades when he said: “Never had man or woman a grander cause, never was a cause more grandly served.” We repeat that message today and are confident that the cause of Connolly and Pearse and all ho have followed them will triumph in the ’90s.

Yet it would be wrong to say that there is no overt hint of leftism. Perhaps most tellingly in the form of a two page article on leathanach 14 which deals with “James Connolly – the practical visionary”. By contrast Pearse is given a single page. The Connolly article rebuts the idea, which it argues is put about by “revisionist historians” that … “James Connolly’s participating in the 1916 uprising is the ultimate proof of his abandonment of socialism”. The analysis offered there attempts with varying degrees of success to argue the correctness of Connolly’s actions, arguing that while a breach with ‘classical’ Marxism it was ‘a thoroughly socialist perspective, similar (though not identical) to the strategy then being followed by Lenin in Russia’. And it concludes with the proposition that Labour in its various manifestations ducked away from the possibilities offered in the post-1916 period through to the establishment of the Free State, and has done so ever since.

There’s much more to say, but perhaps others will give their opinions on the document as a whole.

Apologies for file size. Am I correct in assuming most of us are now on broad band? Or are there some toiling away on dial-up? Please tell me so I can tailor, as best as is possible, PDFs to suit.

This text and these files are a resource for use freely by anyone who wants to for whatever purpose – that’s the whole point of the Archive (well that and the discussions). But if you do happen to use them we’d really appreciate if you mentioned that you found them at the Irish Left Online Document Archive…


1. Starkadder - June 15, 2009

The piece around Gaybo reminded me he always disliked the
Provos, and some of Harris’ crowd in RTE were associated with
the Late Late Show.

But Gaybo was still miles better than Prat Kenny.

Not sure how Turbidy will turn out.


2. WorldbyStorm - June 15, 2009

I’m not filled with hope, let’s put it that way. I’m sort of agnostic on Byrne, he certainly did some good but as he aged the middle class ossification set in in his views. Radical in his thirties he was reactionary later on. Kenny, dear oh dear oh dear. I always recall a story I heard him tell on his radio show in the late 90s or early 00s where he was saying how a US radio company wanted him to do a show with them and how they ‘thought I was ten years younger than I really am’… self-serving, no?

Tubridy. Nice lad, but as Robert Christgau once wrote, the world is full of nice lads…


3. Garibaldy - June 15, 2009

No name on the Connolly piece, interestingly. Also I noted the praise lavished on the attempt to kill the secretary or whatever she was in the police base. It brought to my mind the RIRA justification of shooting the pizza delivery men.


4. WorldbyStorm - June 15, 2009

That’s true. Wasn’t this during the tail end of the period when the list of ‘legitimate’ targets was extended?


RBrooks - October 22, 2010

I noticed your reference to the list of “legitimate targets” I am doing some research on the PIRA and trying to learn a little more about this list. Was it actually a published list in the paper? If so, do you know what it would usually consist of? Thanks for any help you can offer.


5. Garibaldy - June 15, 2009

I think the threats to shopkeepers etc was the late 1980s, and kept going. The proxy bombs, organised from Derry, had happened before this I think. Shows how determined they were to ignore public opinion, even within their own areas.


6. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen Linken « Entdinglichung - June 19, 2009

[…] Sinn Féin: An Phoblacht, 75th Anniversary of the Rising Issue […]


7. . - December 3, 2010

i what a united ireland and im in the noth ire.


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