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Irish Left Archive: SuperSpi, Socialist Party of Ireland, June-July 1978. April 23, 2012

Posted by irishonlineleftarchive in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Politics, Socialist Party of Ireland (SPI).

To download the above file [now amended to incorporate all 12 pages] please click on the following link:


Many thanks to IELB for scanning this document and forwarding it to the Archive. IELB has posted some pages from this on the Irish Election Literature Blog last week and it can be found here.

As IELB notes:

The magazine itself is actually quite good with a witty enough cover and some decent columns. The story about the ITGWU conference is one in particular that I enjoyed. I’m not sure how many issues of it were produced .

As he notes the most striking aspect of it is the overtly satirical magazine based approach from the front cover to the general contents. One thinks of Private Eye and more recently The Phoenix (first published five years later). This is a significantly more playful approach than that taken by other documents issued by that party. While the topics are much as might be expected with articles critiquing nationalism, housing issues and Israel, the presentation is again more humorous with cartoons, both illustrative and photographic and a number of stories that appear to be only partially serious. Most notable in that respect is the one entitled “Tall Tales” about an 142 year old man in Lerik-Azerbaijan ‘in the Soviet Union’ who it suggests ‘in his village might be regarded as a lad, as some of his neighbours are enjoying ages of 156 and 167 years’.

But the general tone is very slightly lighter, albeit much of it rests on irony and sarcasm.

Labour News is strikingly critical of the ITGWU. Red Herrin’s directly criticises ‘a group of students at UCD and TCD who are embers of the Socialist Labour Party (Noel Browne), [who have formed] an organisation called ‘Students for Action’ whose express aim is to oppose the Unions of Students in Ireland (USI). Intriguingly there’s less emphasis on ‘actually existing socialist’ states than in other SPI material (one thinks of Advance).

There’s also mention of ‘a joint Socialist campaign against Nationalism by the Socialist Party of Ireland, B&ICO, and the Limerick Socialist Organisation’ which is already in the Archive.

All told another useful addition to the body of work already here from the SPI and an attempt by an Irish political formation to break somewhat out of the traditional discourse extant on the left.


1. irishelectionliterature - April 23, 2012

Pages 9 to 12 which aren’t in the pdf.


2. Irish Anarchist History Archvive - April 25, 2012

“A leaflet being distributed in Trinity College reads the Anarchist Movement is starting to build a real organisation. The organised anarchists have an office in Rathmines free of charge by kind permission of the dubious Student Christian Movement”.

Getting three things wrong in just two sentences wasn’t bad going! The leaflet was not distributed in Trinity College but on that year’s Dublin May Day march. The Dublin Anarchist Group didn’t have an office in Rathmines, and not having an office it couldn’t have been courtesy of the Student Christian Movement.

The real story was far less interesting. The Dublin Anarchist Group had been formed a couple of months previously. The Student Christian Movement allowed a multitude of campaign groups to use their address for mail, and the DAG asked if they could also use it for a few weeks until they sorted out their own.

I don’t think there were any Trinity students involved (though I could be wrong), though there was a WUI shop steward from Trinity. There were a couple of students from UCD but a good few of the 25 or so members of the group were ex-republicans (both provo and sticky) or union activists. I can remember people from the CIE works in Inchicore, Dublin County Council, and Ardmore Film Studios.

The DAG only lasted for a year or so before it had a friendly split. The minority got together with some likeminded people from the Belfast Anarchist Collective and formed the Anarchist Workers Alliance. That can be seen as forerunner of the Workers Solidarity Movement (formed in 1984).

The majority, who favoured a looser and less politically defined group, went on to establish the ABC bookshop in Marlborough Street and published two issues of a magazine called Resistance. Proving that Dublin is a small place, they shared that building with the Socialist Labour Party and the 32 County Feminist Federation.

And while talking of ‘interesting’ things. The SPI, who at one stage covered Ballymun and Tallaght with anti-Provo “Isolate the Gunmen’ posters, had originally funded themselves by an armed raid on Ballymun post office.


WorldbyStorm - April 25, 2012

IAHA, got to say I found that a bit depressing about SuperSpi. Good magazine, etc, but far too willing to attack others as being not quite pure enough for them.


3. The Weekly Archive Worker: Buntes Allerlei « Entdinglichung - April 26, 2012

[…] * Socialist Party of Ireland: SuperSpi, Juni/Juli 1978 […]


4. The CLR Political Quiz …Number 5 … The Answers « The Cedar Lounge Revolution - October 12, 2012

[…] 3. What party published a magazine called ‘superspi’ ? The Socialist party of Ireland (a copy here) […]


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