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Irish Left Archive: Republican News, Provisional Sinn Féin, July 1974 November 1, 2010

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Sinn Féin.
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RN70 1

This is a useful document which demonstrates the presentation of Provisional Sinn Féin and PIRA during the middle of the 1970s. Republican News was established in Belfast in February 1970. In A Secret History of the IRA Ed Moloney notes that:

Anti-communism was to become a recurring obsession of the new IRA [PIRA]. The editorial in the very first edition of Republican News… set the tone… Outlining the malign influence of the Goulding supporters, RN railed against them in language that would not have been out of place in a speech by Senator Joe McCarthy: “Gradually into executive posts both in the IRA and SF, the Red agents infiltrated,” the paper complained, “and soon these men became the policy makers. Young men and girls were brainwashed with the teachings and propaganda of the new policy makers and well-trained organizers were sent into different areas to spread the teachings of the Red infiltrators’.

Moloney also notes that the then editor at one point described the mission of na Fianna Eireann as ‘Our allegiance is to God and Ireland’.

This edition has notably less of the latter aspect, indeed there are passing references to socialism, Mao and Marx in the text, albeit not positioned in an ideological fashion. But the strongly religious aspect is still to the fore. And it is filled with articles that touch upon religion in an explicit fashion, from the front page leader which issues a ‘Call to Ulster Protestants’.

This suggests that ‘Ireland needs her Ulster Protestants and Ulster Catholics.. everyone of them to help her build up a Christian way of life with a social system that will bring a happy home life, security, peace, comfort, welfare and happiness to all its citizens’.

But it concludes: ‘Will you resolve henceforth to march forward as Irishmen only… determined to make our land politically, economically and culturally free? If your answer to these questions is ‘yes’, Ireland indeed has a bright future but if your answer is ‘no’, woe betide us, your children and our children.’

This emphasis on the religious continues in an ‘Open Letter to Cardinal’ – in this case The Archbishop of Philadelphia, a report on the sermon from the annual Commemorative Mass for James Connolly and numerous references to religion in the text. There is also a front page piece on the suspension of a Catholic priest in Birmingham. Indeed it is striking how the discourse is often channelled explicitly into ‘Protestant’ and ‘Catholic’ rather than Unionist and Nationalist. That this is modified with references to Catholic and Protestant working classes (respectively) doesn’t diminish the impact. There are also broadly approving references to Vatican II.

None of which is to ignore a tone that is highly critical of the Catholic hierarchy, as in an article on the death of Michael Gaughan. But it is perhaps telling that an appeal for more Republican News sellers is couched in terms of ‘I would like to become a Republican News seller and help to spread the gospel of Irish Republicanism’.

Other interesting material includes mention of Sinn Féin electoral successes in Local Government elections. There is also a piece on Guerrilla Warfare by ‘Man in Glasgow’ which contains the reference to Mao, noted above. It argues that: ‘because of his communist political beliefs, much of his work has been denigrated by his opponents. But none can deny that his knowledge of guerrilla warfare brought him success.’

All in all a vivid illustration of a certain point in the early development of Provisional Sinn Féin.

This is a useful document which demonstrates the presentation of Provisional Sinn Féin and PIRA during the middle of the 1970s. Republican News was established in Belfast in February 1970. In A Secret History of the IRA Ed Moloney notes that:

Anti-communisim was to become a recurring obsession of the new IRA [PIRA]. The editorial in the very first edition of Republican News… set the tone… Outlining the malign influence of the Goulding supporters, RN railed against them in language that would not have been out of place in a speech by Senator Joe McCarthy: “Gradually into executive posts both in the IRA and SF, the Red agents infiltrated,” the paper complained, “and soon these men became the policy makers. Young men and girls were brainwashed with the teachings and propaganda of the new policy makers and well-trained organizers were sent into different areas to spread the teachings of the Red infiltrators’.

Moloney also notes that the then editor at one point described the mission of na Fianna Eireann as ‘Our allegiance is to God and Ireland’.

This edition has notably less of the latter aspect, indeed there are passing references to socialism, Mao and Marx in the text, albeit not positioned in an ideological fashion. But the strongly religious aspect is still to the fore. And it is filled with articles that touch upon religion in an explicit fashion, from the front page leader which issues a ‘Call to Ulster Protestants’.

This suggests that ‘Ireland needs her Ulster Protestants and Ulster Catholics.. everyone of them to help her build up a Christian way of life with a social system that will bring a happy home life, security, peace, comfort, welfare and happiness to all its citizens’.
But it concludes: ‘Will you resolve henceforth to march forward as Irishmen only… determined to make our land politically, economically and culturally free? If your answer to these questions is ‘yes’, Ireland indeed has a bright future but if your answer is ‘no’, woe betide us, your children and our children.’

This emphasis on the religious continues in an ‘Open Letter to Cardinal’ – in this case The Archbishop of Philadelphia, a report on the sermon from the annual Commemorative Mass for James Connolly and numerous references to religion in the text. There is also a front page piece on the suspension of a Catholic priest in Birmingham. Indeed it is striking how the discourse is often channelled explicitly into ‘Protestant’ and ‘Catholic’ rather than Unionist and Nationalist. That this is modified with references to Catholic and Protestant working classes (respectively) doesn’t diminish the impact. There are also broadly approving references to Vatican II.

None of which is to ignore a tone that is highly critical of the Catholic hierarchy, as in an article on the death of Michael Gaughan. But it is perhaps telling that an appeal for more Republican News sellers is couched in terms of ‘I would lie to become a Republican News seller and help to spread the gospel of Irish Republicanism’.

Other interesting material includes mention of Sinn Féin electoral successes in Local Government elections. There is also a piece on Guerrilla Warfare by ‘Man in Glasgow’ which contains the reference to Mao, noted above. It argues that: because of his communist political beliefs, much of his work has been denigrated by his opponents. But none can deny that his knowledge of guerrilla warfare brought him success.’

All in all a vivid illustration of a certain point in the early development of Provisional Sinn Féin.

Comments»

1. Mark P - November 1, 2010

Great addition to the archive, WbS.

This sort of thing gives the necessary context for the old Official’s jibes about the Provisionals being “the Rosary Bead Brigade”.

Also, that masthead is a bit jarring given changing language. It’s hard to imagine a Republican publication announcing itself as “The Voice of Republican Ulster” today.

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2. coc - November 1, 2010

So good you posted it twice?

(or maybe it’s my browser?)

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Budapestkick - November 1, 2010

No, bit of a slip up I’d say.

Moloney’s bit about the ‘red agents’ is interesting in that a surprising number of mainstream historians have regurgitated the ‘CPGB infiltration’ thesis put forward by the PIRA. Strange how poleemics like that can hav such an impact on popular perception of the period.

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3. yourcousin - November 1, 2010

WBS,
This post just goes to show that you are indeed a crypto-provo. Just saying…

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Garibaldy - November 1, 2010

Isn’t it too early in the morning for you to be able to make witty remarks?

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yourcousin - November 1, 2010

Well lets be honest, it’s not that witty of a remark, but coming off of the ULA thread it seemed like it was just there for the taking to the first person tactless/immature to say it.

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4. Budapestkick - November 1, 2010

Heh.

Just curious WBS, but is there anything from the Irish Marxist Society (eurocommunist split from the CPI) material in line to be posted?

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5. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung - November 4, 2010

[…] * Provisional Sinn Féin (PSF): Republican News, Juli 1974 […]

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