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Left Archive: An Phoblacht/Republican News, Volume 9, No. 50, 31st December, 1987, Sinn Féin April 19, 2021

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Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive.

This edition of An Phoblacht/Republican News joins others in the Archive, but is of particular note due to being the first from the 1980s. Issued on 31st of December 1987 this edition contains a review of the year, an article on the recent assassination of UDA Commander John McMichael earlier that month, a piece on on how Section 31 was likely to be renewed in the Republic of Ireland as well as another on how community activists in the South were also being arrested on charges of IRA membership.

The month by month review of 1987 is of particular interest since there was an election in the Republic that year in February which returned a Fianna Fáil led coalition. This was the first election which Sinn Féin contested on a non-abstentionism platform and gained 1.9% of the first preference vote. AP/RN is phlegmatic about this result noting:

While at the start of the South’s GE SF were fairly optimistic of a good result, by mid-February it was clear that the prospect of a Fine Gael/Progressive Democrat coalition taking power had frightened many voters who might other wise have voted SF. The isolation imposed by 65 years of abstentionism and many other factors besides was not going to be overturned in one election. Sinn Féin had organisational problems and had a long way to go. It could only progress by setting its sights on winning seats in the next election through being involved in the issues and struggle which affect the people.

In May that year the paper notes that ‘the month was dominated by the IRA’s most tragic loss since the Tan War when eight Volunteers and one civilian were killed in an ambush at Loughall, Co. Armagh on May 8th’. On November 8th the paper notes ‘a bomb exploded in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, killing 11 people who were waiting for the annual British Legion Remembrance Day ceremony to begin. In a statement the following day the IRA admitted responsibility for planting the bomb but said that it had not detonated it….expressing deep regret at what occurred.’

The paper also had a ‘World View Review’ of the year, which suggests that ‘An almost comic note was hit in December when the US President entertained Mikhail Gorbachev in Washington. Gone was Reagan’s denunciation of the Soviet leader’s ‘evil empire’ – the Soviet Union had suddenly become flavour of the month in the capitalist west. IN his last year of office Reagan is trying to win a reputation as a peacemaker – an ironic fact in view of his massive nuclear arsenal and his attempts to crush freedom in Central America.’ and a piece notes that ‘the London based National Union of Students has recognised that Britain has no progressive role to play in Ireland and should commit itself to a programme of unconditional political and military withdrawal’.

Other features of interest are Beannachtaí na hAthbhliana from various individuals and organisation to Republican POWs and the satirical ‘Flying Column’ on the last page.

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