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The Left Archive [Remembering 1969]: United Irishman, Sinn Féin, July 1969. July 27, 2009

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Irish Left Online Document Archive (Remembering 1969), Sinn Féin.



Another edition of the United Irishman, this from the pivotal month of July, just prior to the events of August 1969 which we will be looking at over the next four or five weeks. The tone of the paper is striking. It references on the front page the quote from Cardinal Conway that ‘those who preach social revolution are holding back the cause of justice and hindering social evolution’, another from Taoiseach Jack Lynch that “Extreme left-wing socialism is alien to the tradition of the Irish people” and one from James Dunne of ICTU that “We have a ‘do-it-yourself’ brand of trade unionism which treats with contempt all the institutions, practices and procedures that our trade union movement has created over the last sixty years”. These are then contextualised by a further quote from Tomas Mac Giolla, then Uachtaran Sinn Féin, who at Bodenstown the previous month had said:

“Our objective has been to make it clear to all that a Republican is both a socialist and a separatist. We are not going to be deflected from policies we know to be right and in the best interests of the Irish people, because of temporary shifts in public opinion. We do not regard socialism as a fashionable cloak to be worn or discarded as popular taste dictates. I think we can say that no one is today in any doubt where a Republican stands ideologically”.

The other front page story “Ban Defied: U.I. Sold Throughout North” seems perhaps a little tame given what would happen during August.

Inside it is surprising how little, relatively speaking, there is on the North. Granted there is a short piece seemingly meant to be read by Unionist. But in the main it doesn’t figure highly. There are useful pieces on Problems of Ideology which intriguingly references Teilhard de Chardin and how his philosophy ‘seeks to reconcile christian theology with the scientific theory of evolution in an intimate and indissoluble way’. Another piece details Palestine. And there’s also one on Zambia. The history of Conradh na Gaeilge is outlined in yet another. There are a number of mentions of the Free Wales Army (and is it possible that they fed into enduring rhetoric about that particular period in history?).

The ‘campaign for the re-conquest of Ireland’ has an entire page to itself detailing pickets and fish-ins across the country, certainly detailing considerable activity.

The full text of the oration by Tomas MacGiolla is contained within and there’s little doubt that this was an emphatically leftwing address. And the editorial on the back page concentrates largely on the Common Market. All told then a document which truly charts the calm before the storm.

The Irish Left Archive [Remembering 1969] seeks to bring into the public domain documents and publications from 1969 with a left and Republican slant. Already there are a number of documents that have been donated or are on file, but if you have any material you think might be appropriate – and, in particular, Official and Provisional Sinn Féin publications would be welcome – please don’t hesitate to email me at worldbystorm@eircom.net. Can I also take this opportunity to call again for any donations to the Archive – we’re adding trade union material and other materials of interest would include left-wing unionist publications from the last thirty years…

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. Maddog Wilson - July 27, 2009

The article on Wales is interesting, it fails to mention that a child had a foot blown off in one of the bombings at a post office, though to be fair that might have happened later in the day of Big Ears investiture after the paper went to press. It demonstrates all to clearly the dangers of a bombing campaign against civilian targets, of particular resonance to the Coventry incident discussed in the article on Barnes and McCormac.

It was from this brief campaign by the Free Wales Army that the Provo myth, still propagated to this day that the IRA sold all their weapons to the FWA came from. In fact as the trial in Swansea revealed only 2 weapons, a sten and a pistol were sold to them. In later years of course the ‘ Sons Of Glendower’ conducted an arson campaign against ‘Second Homes’ in Mid Wales without any casualties or apparently any of the arsonists ever being convicted.


2. Maddog Wilson - July 27, 2009

In later years the Telihard de Chardin piece was expanded into a Repsol Pamphlet ‘ An Alien Ideolgy’ which used De Chardins views to rebuff the allegations that the Officials had adopted an ‘Alien Ideology’.


3. Dr. X - July 27, 2009

De Chardins’ ideas were basically reheated Herbert Spencer-ism weren’t they?


4. Garibaldy - July 27, 2009

I thought this was a very interesting edition of the paper. It is a stark reminder of how the south was always the primary area of focus for the movement, and rightly so. I found the fact that Mac Giolla launched straight into the international national liberation struggles at Bodenstown interesting, and the additional articles and letters on the international situation too. The letter about Palestine is a reminder of how much symapthy Israel had before the 1967 and 1973 wars.

Some of the stuff is crude, such as the dismissal of students when it comes to real work, but it is a very diverse range of issues covered in reasonable depth within the limitations of the medium. It also shows how little such papers have changed in the forty years since.

Can’t say I was surprised to see Lynch et al spout the same sort of rhetoric that the Provos would later use about alien forms of socialism.


5. WorldbyStorm - July 27, 2009

Not sure about that Dr. X. They clearly took rather different positions on the issue of God. But I have to admit, I quite like de Chardin’s stuff even if I don’t really buy into it at all.


6. WorldbyStorm - July 27, 2009

Hey Maddog, that’s be an interesting pamphlet to read… and to post!


7. Jim Monaghan - July 27, 2009

de Chardin’s

Probably shows my age. I though he was wonderful when I ws 16-18. Early 60s. I though I was the only one who remembered.
An attempted synthesis of socialism and religion. I am now a committed atheist and feel that religion is indeed an opiate. I understand the need for opiates in a desperate world but we need to be conscious to change things.


8. Maddog Wilson - July 27, 2009

Sorry i dont have it anymore, i remember it was by Derry Kelleher who was Vice President of OSF at the time, circa early 70’s. I regret now that all this stuff went over the years, if i could have forseen the archive here i would have kept everything. Still looking for IIR i now think a friend borrowed it. It was by memory an interesting attempt to deflect criticism of the move to the left by pointing out progessive tendencies within religious thought as Jim points out in his post above. We need someone who kept everything they had, unless the WP still has copies of the original. I seem to recall that Kelleher wrote his memoirs recently. Can anyone help?


9. WorldbyStorm - July 27, 2009

No worries. I only recently after losing my own copy of Patterns of Betrayal acquired one. That’ll be posted up in September I’d think…

By the by, does anyone have a copy of the September United Irishman? I have one which is missing the inside centre pages…I’ll post up what I’ve got but…


10. WorldbyStorm - July 27, 2009

Likewise Jim… bar the committed atheist bit, more like agnostic theist!


11. Starkadder - July 28, 2009

Kelleher wrote a semi-autobiographical tract, “Buried Alive
in Ireland”, a few years ago: there’s a copy in the Cork City
Library. I don’t know about his Teilhard de Chardin book.

Didn’t the WP also publish pamphlets on Tony O’Reilly
and the Vietnamese Boat People? Anyone read them?


12. Old Smelly Bastard - July 28, 2009

Derry Kelleher is no longer with us. He wrote a number of books, often quite curious. There is an interview with him in Uinseann MacEoin’s ‘The IRA in the Twilight Years’ (1997).


13. Maddog Wilson - July 29, 2009


On your second point, yes they did, it was called ‘ Why they Left ‘ I think, I did’nt read it. I went to Veitnam in 2000 and the Catholic population who originally came from the north fled to the south after the Geneva agreement of 1954, they had originally supported the french, that was the origin of catholisim in Veitnam. They became the local ruling class in the south, displacing the peasants as the biggest landowners and fueling the Vietcong revolt of the 60’s. Together with the ethnic chinese they made up the bulk of the so called ‘ boat people’. In the area around Ho Chi Minh City there are numerous war cemetetarys for VC/NVA soldiers. As the troops who died cant be identified each gravestone says simply the Vietnamese word for hero.

Those who had supported the french and the americans were not to poular. Even so there were plenty of catholic churches still in the area. The guides who had refused to speak about the war up until that stage (about 2 weeks) took us across the second newport bridge into Saigon or Ho Chi Minh City if you prefer and spoke with evident pride of a sapper unit that had seized the bridge in the last days of the war, tied themselves to the struts and fought to the end to stop the bridge being blown up, all were killed we were told. But this enabled The VC/NVA to take the city and end the war.


14. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen Linken « Entdinglichung - July 31, 2009

[…] * Sinn Féin: The United Irishman, Juli 1969 […]


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