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Left Archive: Documents from the 1st Annual Conference, National Association for Irish Justice, New York, 1969 – Dr. Frank Gogarty [Chair NICRA], Cathal Goulding [Republican Movement], Moira Martin [London NICRA], Eilish McDermott [People’s Democracy], Vincent MacDowell [NICRA]. February 13, 2012

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

We would like very much to thank Seán Prendiville for forwarding these documents to the Archive. The National Association for Irish Justice, based in New York, was ‘the official voice of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in the United States’ and held its 1st Annual Conference in late 1969 in Manhattan. These documents include speeches at the Conference, resolutions agreed at it and the Constitution of the Organisation. In eight discreet documents the reader is provided with an invaluable and timely insight into the attitudes then developing as regards the situation in both Northern Ireland, more broadly on the island of Ireland and the way these were projected in the United States.

In order to contextualise the documents Seán adds:

I should explain how I came by these documents. My father-in-law, Frank Maguire, died last year. My sister-in-law Niki found a box of Irish material and asked me to take a look at it and see if there was anything that should be preserved or shared. These documents were the most interesting and thanks to the Maguire family for sharing them. Frank, his wife Mary, and their children were members of the Irish American Action Association in San Francisco. Brian Heron sent these documents to the IAAA which I believe preceded Noraid and the Irish Republican Clubs. I don’t think the NAIJ ever got much traction in San Francisco. I was never a member of NAIJ; it was my impression that events soon overtook the NAIJ. Perhaps some reader with some direct experience with the NAIJ can comment.

Brian Heron and Lenny Glaser (aka Lenni Brenner) had been leading members of Citizens for Irish Justice (CIJ), the original support group in San Francisco for NICRA. They left soon for New York to establish the NAIJ with others in New York. Brian returned to San Francisco a year ago and died in March. Lenni Brenner has focused most of his energy on anti-Zionist work for the last couple of decades.

There is much of interest in each and every one of the documents here. They are as follows. To download files please click on each name in turn:

1: Constitution of the National Association for Irish Justice

2: Letter from Brian Heron of the NAIJ, December 17, 1969 [includes Fact Sheet]
3: Resolutions Adopted at First Annual Conference of the NAIJ

4: Press Release: Vincent McDowell, Vice-Chairman NICRA, December 6th 1969

Speeches in Alphabetical Order

5: Dr. Frank Gogarty, Chairman of NICRA

6: Cathal Goulding, Republican Movement

7: Moira Martin, Co-Treasurer/London Branch NICRA.

8: Eilish McDermott, Representative of People’s Democracy, Queens University, Belfast

To give a sense of the direction of the documents here are selected quotes from each of them in turn:

Constitution of the National Association for Irish Justice

The purpose of the National Association for Irish Justice is to establish broad public support in the United States for the demands of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and self-determination for the people of IReland. The National Association for Irish Justice is an association of diverse groups united in their support for the Irish people. Consequently the National Association for Irish Justice should not take specific stands on issues not directly related to the Irish situation. However, this in no way limits the prerogative of local autonomous groups or affiliates or taking specific stands.

Letter from Brian Heron of the NAIJ, December 17, 1969 [includes Fact Sheet]

In the past we have conducted pickets of British consulates and are conducting a boycott of British goods, in addition to setting up speaking tours. We shall continue this strategy in addition to other activities. We are also planning demonstrations during he possible January visit of Harold Wilson. We hope to have a coordinating group in every major city by February as our activities here are greatly needed by the CRA.

Fact Sheet:

An Organization proudly sympathetic to those fighting for the unqualified freedom of all Irishman.

1. Organized Bernadette Devlin’s tour of the United States.

2. During the month of November had speakers from Ireland touring the country educating the American people as to the problems facing people of Northern Ireland.

3. Have staged protest, rallies, and marches in major cities against the forces of British Imperialism.

4. Working with N.A.I.J. are affiliate groups in San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Boston, Hartford, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Rhode Island and Washington, D.C.

5. Organized College Chapters (STUDENTS FOR IRISH JUSTICE) on campuses throughout the United States.

6. Held International Conference on November 7th, 8th & 9th With delegates from U.S. , Canada, Australia, England and Ireland at City Center, 135 West 55th Street, New York.

7. In coordination with other Irish-American groups, participated in demonstration against the British Government on December 4th, 1969 in front of the British Consulate. The purpose of the demonstration was to demand the release of two prisoners in Ireland being held under “Special Powers Act” and to demand the repeal of the “Special Powers Act”.

Resolutions Adopted at First Annual Conference of the NAIJ


The National Association for Irish Justice recognises that economically oppressed people who are discriminated against and brutalised cannot sit idly by while their homes are burned to the ground from under them when demand equal justice and dignity under the law.

The NAIJ believes in the principles of armed self-defence. We extend our full support to the efforts of the oppressed in the six counties of NI to defend themselves by any means necessary from the forces of Orange bigotry represented by the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Special Constabulary (B Specials), the UVF, and all others who attack them.

This expression of solidarity also extends to resistance against the armed forces of the United Kingdom, recognising as we do that British Imperialism is the root cause of the problem in Ireland.

Further it is resolved that the NAIJ recognising the necessity for self-defence supports the formation of Citizen Defence Committees in Northern Ireland.

Press Release: Vincent MacDowell, Vice-Chairman NICRA, December 6th 1969

Mr. MacDowell stated that there would be a civil rights march on January 1st from Belfast to Derry over the Burntollet Bridge and also from Armagh to Derry. If the marchers did not get through because of the ban on public marches, Mr. MacDowell vowed they would try on the first of every month until they did or were all jailed.

Dr. Frank Gogarty, Chairman of NICRA

I would like, first of all, to list the demands of our movement. Our aim – since Britain is morally responsible for all the injustices in N. Ireland – has been to urge the Westminster Government to legislate directly to ensure basic civil rights for all citizens of N. Ireland. Such legislation under Section 75 of the Ireland Act of 1920 would guarantee:

(i) Universal Adult Suffrage at 18 in all election;

(ii) All electoral boundary revisions by a Westminster Boundary Commission;

(iii) Repeal of the Special Powers Act and the Public Order Act (together with the Amending Bill) to ensure that every individual is free from arbitrary interference by the state and all groups have the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association;

(iv) The outlawing of discrimination and incitement of religious hatred;

(v) The disbandment of the Ulster Special Constabulary and the creation of Independent machinery to enquire into citizens’ grievances against members of the Police force;

Over the past 12 months we in the civil rights movement have campaigned hard and always our tactics have been strictly non violent.
Despite this, however, innocent lives have been lost, hundreds have been maimed and thousands have had to flee their blazing homes in terror of the violent forces unleashed against them.

Cathal Goulding, Republican Movement. [note the hand written addendums in Irish]

In the final analysis the demands of the working classes, the landless, the small farmer or the homeless will never be met, unless with the obstruction of the ascendency and because the establishment has at its disposal an army and a police force; well fed, well paid and well armed, the final confrontation will be an armed one, and that the organisation and the training, and the arming of the ordinary people for this confrontation is a most important essential.

Moira Martin, Co-Treasurer/London Branch NICRA.

We preach no political ideology, right, left or centre. Our demands are toss of the Civil Rights movement. Our objects are: 1. to publicise the aims and purposes of the NICRA and to give them complete support. 2 to give the public in Londno an opportunity to voce their condemnation of the happenings in Northern Ireland and to bring pressure ot bear on the government at Westminster towards the enjoyment of Civil Rights by all the people of Northern Ireland.

Eilish McDermott, Representative of People’s Democracy, Queens University, Belfast

The struggle for a Socialist Republic brings a second class – sorry the economic class consciousness of the Protestant working class with the anti-imperialist outlook of the Republicans, and we believe that in this way by facing the problem in this way, we can somehow try to be more realistic. We can fully realise and work with the fact that Ireland is not one culture. Ireland is not Irishmen born and bred, Ireland has two cultures, probably what we would best be able to recognise or define into groups as the Catholic and the Protestant, the Irish and the English, Scot. But just because a man has only been living in Ireland or his family have only been living in Ireland for 300 years doesn’t mean to say to me that he isn’t an Irishman.

Left Archive: Barricades Bulletin: Special Edition, Derry Labour Party and Young Socialists, 25th August 1969 May 9, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Derry Labour Party and Young Socialists, Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Left Online Document Archive (Remembering 1969).

To download the above file please click on following link: BARRICADES BULLETIN RED

This document was issued on 25th August and is perhaps best seen as being of a piece with other materials in the Archive from the 1969-1970 period. This document, one of a series, was issued by the youth section of the Derry Labour Party and perhaps points up the difficulties implicit in organising on a left platform in Derry, and more broadly Northern Ireland, during this period.

The Derry Labour Party was founded in 1965 by Willie Breslin, Ivan Cooper and Dermie McClenaghan. Willie Breslin gave the following testimonial as regards the DLP at the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in 2002:

…the Derry Labour Party had been founded in 1965 in an attempt to tackle social injustices that were rife in Derry at the time, affecting both the nationalist and loyalist working class people of Derry.

The party had approximately 40 members in 1965, consisting of trade unionists, teachers and businessmen. These numbers increased steadily and, by 1968, the party had to divide into two branches as they could not find venues large enough to host meetings with all party members.

Unsurprisingly Breslin alluded to the tensions the party faced.

A number of the party members were also elected to the Citizens Action Committee (CAC).

Mr Breslin said that, after the Stormont elections in 1969, the CAC became largely ineffective, so he suggested that Ivan Cooper, John Hume and Claude Wilson should stand as candidates in the local
elections. Ivan Cooper and John Hume were both elected. However, Mr Breslin said that the manner in which the election was approached missed the opportunity to cross the sectarian divide. Issues such as poor housing, unemployment and low pay were issues affecting both Catholics and Protestants and he felt that the civil rights movement could have enabled a move away from sectarianism.

He said that the Battle of the Bogside proved to be a death knell for the Labour Party, along with many other parties: many people dropped out of politics or stopped voting, and the party lost a number of people to the communist ideology of the Official Republican movement.

A number of those involved in the Young Socialists went on to Militant and later the Socialist Party. Indeed it is clear that there were strong links at the time between Militant and YS members of the DLP with extracts from other issues of Barricades Bulletin being printed by Militant [as can be seen here].

This particular edition provides a single broadsheet the main article criticises then British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s talks with Unionist PM Chichester-Clark. It argues that:

There should be an immediate conference representative of Labour Parties, trade unions and radical CR groups to draw up a programme for power. Such a programme should be based on policies and slogans which cut across the religious divide.

It should, for example, demand legislation for a minimum wage, equal pay for women, state take over of banks and big business in order to take control of industry out of the hands of profiteers…. going forward on such a programme we would still have a hope of undercutting the religious divide.

There is also sharp criticism of the ‘Unfree State’ in another article.

The sabre-rattling along the border is designed not to intimidate, nor even to influence Stormont and Westminster, but to head off the protests of people of the South against their government’s inaction.

And this is also followed by criticism of Fianna Fáil.

Fianna Fáil calls itself ‘the Republican Party’. It distinguishes itself from Fine Gael by its sporadic expressions of militant anti-partition feeling. So at a time like the present, in order to justify itself it has to bluster a bit.

There’s also a prescient piece entitled Troops: when the honeymoon is over which notes that:

Chichester-Clark said that the existence of the state of Northern Ireland was not in question. It is precisely that. We have questioned it here.

Irish Left Archive [Remembering 1969]: United Irishman, Sinn Féin, October 1969 October 26, 2009

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

UI OCT 69 cover


The United Irishman from October 1969 provides us a sense of the mood of Republicans in the aftermath of August. The lead article argues that Civil War is Britain’s Aim, the rationale being that ‘Britain is not unwilling to have a civil war so that she can arrive again as a ‘saviour’, abolish Stormont and have the anti-Unionist population delighted to be fully absorbed into the United Kingdom’, a process that the UI argues is the ‘opposite of the Civil Right demand as spelled out by Chairman Frank Gogarty: ‘The Civil Rights Association is not asking for direct rule from Westminster but is simply demanding that the British Government exercise its powers under Article 75 of the Government of Northern Ireland Act of 1920, to legislate directly for civil and democratic rights in Northern Ireland’. And a finger is pointed at Fianna Fáil ‘[who] are getting ready to do a deal wth Britain over some form of Federation or Council of ireland. Lynch calls for a federation, but he does not say if it is to be just a federation of North and South. His speech allows for a federation ‘of these islands’ as called for by Eddie McAteer, Captain O’Neill and Quintin Hogg… in effect a Fianna Fáil sell-out that will bring the whole of Ireland back into the British Empire’.

The inside articles are notable for their range. They discuss ‘fish-ins’, an oddly timely piece on the economy on leathanach trí, and a full page on evictions and housing issues. There’s also a mention of ‘More Trouble in R.T.E.’ and vehement condemnation of attacks on Protestants in the 26 Counties. But the North is never far from the concerns of the UI, whether in the form of ‘An Open letter to the poor Protestants of Ulster’, a survey of unemployment on the Falls or articles on the ‘B’ Specials.

Perhaps most telling is a short piece on leathanach ceathair which asks ‘Where were the Republicans?’ and suggests that:

In recent times some publications in the 26 cos. have tried to undermine the efforts of Republicans during the August unrest in the occupied area, by endeavouring to convince their readership that the Republicans took a back seat during the campaign for social justice and when it was necessary to defend the nationalist population against attacks from R.U.C. ‘B’ Specials and extreme Right wing Unionists of the Paisleyite movement.

And a defence of the approach of Republicans follows pointing to ‘social agitation in such issues as housing and unemployment… as far back as 1963 Republicans in Derry City had established an organisation for unemployed youth which later became known as Derry Unemployed Action Committee…’

Add to this an attack on the ‘Paper Hat Irish’ (Irish-Americans) and that old standby of SF and OSF material, ‘Preparing to Join NATO’ (the South), what is remarkable in contrast to later editions how comparatively calm the situation was at this early stage. Despite the events of the Summer of 1969 and the mention of barricades in Belfast the worst was most certainly yet to come.

It’s Official: Irish Government Sought to Foment 1969 Split August 31, 2009

Posted by Garibaldy in Irish History, Irish Left Online Document Archive (Remembering 1969), The North, Workers' Party.

Co-author of The Lost Revolution Scott Millar has a piece in today’s Irish Examiner which reveals that the Department of Justice sought to foment a split in the Republican Movement in 1969. I think the memo was also published in the recent History Ireland, but don’t have my copy to hand to check this. From the memo:

In different parts of the country units of the IRA (and Sinn Féin) are uneasy about the new left-wing policy of their leadership and about the violent methods that are being adopted in the destruction of private property.
Their uneasiness needs to be brought to the surface in some way with a consequent fragmentation of the organisation. It is suggested by the Department of Justice that the Government should promote an active political campaign in that regard.

The Left Archive [Remembering 1969]: United Irishman (incorporating Resistance), September 1969, Sinn Féin August 31, 2009

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



UI SEPT 69 b


This is a day early, but in terms of its scope it deals directly with the events of August 1969 and therefore seems appropriate for this month-long series of documents relating to that time.
It is quite forensic in its analysis with maps of the events and an article on Page 4, ‘How Belfast Fought’. The reference to the IRA in this context is instructive…

As the RUC and Specials launched attacks on the barricades guarding the Falls area gunfire was returned for the first time from within the Catholic area.
IRA firing continued until all ammunition was spent, according to reports. Weak though it was in comparison to that of the combined UVF, RUC and B-Special forces, the IRA firepower slowed up the advance of the rampaging mobs and helped to hold vital barricades and refugee centres. The full story of the IRA part in the defence has yet to be told, however.

The IRA statement issued by Cathal Goulding in August 1969 is reprinted in full.

The editorial on the back page is worth careful study for its articulation of ‘Republican demands’ and a fascinating closing paragraph headed “The Christian Thing”.

Also included is the “Resistance” broadsheet which it says was given out free in the North but is included in the UI in order to recoup costs.

In sum this is clearly a document that was issued seeking to shore up support for the Republican Movement and the IRA from all its strands. Perhaps evidence of that last can be found in the lyrics of “The Belfast Brigade” (Air: Glory, Glory, Halleluiah) which might give some pause for thought…

“When the orange mobs from Shankill came to shoot the people down,
They thought the IRA was dead in dear old Belfast town,
But Paisley’s bloody gangsters were with bombs and bullets faced,
When they met the brave battalions of the Belfast Brigade.”

And finally, given that we don’t have the August edition of the United Irishman in the Archive, what of the mention in this issue of a letter from Eamonn McCann in the previous edition? Would that we had a copy of that edition. Interesting reading no doubt.

The Irish Left Archive [Remembering 1969]: “A Failed Political Entity: Studies in Unionism, The Civil Rights Campaign, Discrimination and The Way Forward”, issued by the Dublin ’68 Committee, c. 1988. August 28, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Civil Rights, Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Left Online Document Archive (Remembering 1969), Miscellaneous.

cover AFPE 88


I’m indebted to Jim Monaghan for forwarding this to the Archive, and at precisely the right time too. This is definitely turning into history week on the CLR, and why not. Anyhow, to some extent this doesn’t really belong in the Left Archive, since this is a document that could be argued emanates from traditional Irish nationalism. Consequently I’m posting it out of the usual sequence.

However, as an insight into how the events of 1968 and 1969 resonated long afterward in Irish political life, and for the particular analysis of the events of those years, it provides some use.

Printed in the late 1980s it draws together an eclectic mix of figures, from former Fianna Fáil Minister Kevin Boland, clearly the prime mover behind it, Vincent MacDowell, a former Vice-Chairperson of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in 1969 and others. Even the then indefatigable Ulick O’Connor makes an appearance, and there’s a snippet from Charles Haughey on p.39, but there’s little reason to get overly excited by that, it is just a snippet.

In other words this is a Fianna Fáil, or more precisely a dissident Fianna Fáil (to coin a phrase), production. Perhaps the piece of most relevance is that by Vincent MacDowell, A Failed Political Entity. It is fascinating as much for what it ignores as what it includes. Indeed I find the way it draws a line between civil rights and then nationalism/Republicanism with no clear left element to be hugely instructive. Anyway, that’s just my first impression.

Interesting to know peoples thoughts on this.

Irish Left Archive [Remembering 1969]: Tasks for the Republican Movement in the 26 Counties, 24 August 1969 August 24, 2009

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


This document deals with practical matters of organisation for the RM in the 26 counties. Some of these steps are obvious such as weekly meetings. There is an understandable reticence to recruit too rapidly ‘only on the basis of proven worth. We do not want to snowball the organisation with uneducated and inexperienced people’. There is a strong emphasis on generating ‘all-Ireland’ solidarity and shifting aid from the auspices of the Red Cross.


Irish Left Archive [Remembering 1969]: Sinn Féin, National Solidarity Committee, August 1969 August 24, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive (Remembering 1969), Sinn Féin.
1 comment so far



Another short document. Note the reiteration of the idea voiced previously that ‘there will be a politicians’ arrangement, maintaining partition and perhaps bringing Dublin and Stormont under a Council of ireland with Westminster involved. In other words, back to ‘mother England’.’

We will see more in this vein in next week’s Left Archive post from this period.

Irish Left Archive [Remembering 1969]: Statement from the Republican Movement, 15 August 1969 August 17, 2009

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive (Remembering 1969).
1 comment so far

15-8-1969006 cover


This document suggests a slightly different analysis than that offered by the August statement of the IRA. For example the word socialism is not used once and the demands are essentially process based, ‘immediate disarming of the B Specials’, ‘withdrawal of British troops’ and so forth.

What’s also of interest is the idea expressed that ‘we reject the call issued by some misguided elements of the NICRA for direct rule from Westminster and suspension of Stormont’… and ‘those who make this call have not thought of the dangerous implications… for the next step after that would be London doing a deal with Lynch and the unionists, and bringing the whole of ireland into a federal United Kingdom’.

Irish Left Archive [Remembering 1969]: Irish Republican Army Statement – August 1969 August 17, 2009

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

August-1969008 cover


A short document, signed by Cathal Goulding, that outlines the rationale the IRA was using at this point in time.

Note that it asserts that…

Already Northern units of the IRA have been in action in defence of the lives and homes of the people which have been attacked by deliberately fomented sectarian forces, backed up by the B-Specials, with the aim of destroying the natural solidarity and unity of working class people.

Note also that these actions are couched within ‘defensive operations’. It is striking that it refers to ‘all too limited resources’.

Beyond that it’s intriguing that it overtly states that ‘the Republican Movement has been committed to support the moderate demands of the CRM in the genuine hope that reforms obtained by constitutional agitation would provide a framework withing which a peaceful settlement might be arrived at…’ and that ‘we have been reluctantly compelled into military action’.

It also warns the London government that ‘you will have to take the consequences’.

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