jump to navigation

Left Archive: An Phoblacht, Numbers 13 and 14, Irish Revolutionary Forces, October 1967 and December 1967. December 8, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Revolutionary Forces [1960s].
add a comment

AP IRF

To download the above please click on the following links. An Phoblacht No.13 Oct. 1967

An Phoblacht No.14 Dec. 1967

Click here to go the Left Archive.

Many thanks to Jim Lane for donating these issues of An Phoblacht – The Republic from Irish Revolutionary Forces. This completes the set in the Archive. But more documents from that period are on the way and will be posted up shortly. As has been said before, it is important to note how useful this document is in tracing – from a critical perspective, changing attitudes within Republicanism and Sinn Féin and the IRA during the late 1960s. That it was positioned critically in relation to Sinn Féin and the IRA is of particular importance offering a distinctively different view into the changes in those organisations.

As always it is probably most useful to quote briefly from both editions.

Issue 13 and 14 use the same cover as Volume 12 from August 1967, that being the figure of a volunteer rising from the flames beside the slogan ‘We Will Rise Again!’ and various key dates in Irish history in the flames.

The Editorial in issue 13, once more concentrates on the idea that there is an ‘ever-increasing trend towards Free-Statism in the Republican Movement, which is apparently destined to reach its peak by the end of the year’. And ‘it is obvious that all real Irish republicans will soon have to amok their move’. It continues ‘Clearly the question is no longer one on whether we need a newly constituted organisation to pursue the hopes and goals of Irish republicans; but one on how various groups and individuals of a revolutionary commitment throughout the country can establish a common ground upon which to meet and determine a united course of action’.

It speaks of how ‘we await the coming months with apprehension’ and ‘a course of action that has already been decided upon by the ‘Progressives’… to integrate with Free State politics’.

It argues that it is necessary to be ready to regroup Republican activists ‘in a new organisation’. It also notes that ‘participation in this vital work does not require an open commitment to the ‘Committee for Revolutionary Action’ which is responsible for the publication of AN PHOBLACHT. As we have said the CRA is not an organisation; by self-definition, it is a ‘Committee’ whose object is to combat reactionary trends within organised Republicanism, and to make preparations to bring a new organisation into existence only when this is absolutely necessary’.

It suggests that ‘All Republican Activists who, up until now, have hesitated to make contact with our co-ordinating committee, should consider carefully all the facts we have presented. They should clearly understand that such revolutionary coordination as we advocate does not entail a dual allegiance. We advocate only one allegiance, which is to the revolutionary principles of Irish Republicanism’. It also suggests that if necessary the CRA will support a move to a new organisation ‘at a Conference called for that purpose’.

It concludes with the following:

At this stage it is imperative that the real revolutionary Irish Republicans be bought to the realisation that they must act swiftly and with determination if they are to protect their heritage. If this is done then, as we see it, any move the ‘progressives’ make towards Free State politics will, in the long run, be in the best interests of the Cause, because it will clear our ranks of undersiables who would always be a source of weakness’.

Other pieces in this edition include one entitled ‘That Final Step’ which again considers the influence of the ‘Progressives’ within the Republican movement, and mentions moves towards ‘extending full recognition to the Free State and enter actively into its milieu’. It argues that ‘it is nonsensical to propose that ‘all have the ‘democratic’ right to advocate any course whatever for Irish Republicanism. This is not so; it never has, and it never can be the case. Such ‘democratic’ rights do not, and cannot apply to a freedom of action to undermine or destroy Republicanism’. Another argues that the charges of An Phoblacht have met a ‘poor answer’. A snippet notes that ‘Beginning with this issue we will publish a series of articles dealing with such things as organisation, principles, the role of the Army, etc. These shall serve as a necessary introduction to a ‘suggested’ Draft Programme which is in the process of compilation’. Eoin McDonaill writes on ‘Politics and Organization in Revolution’ and there is a ‘reprint’ of a ‘warning to ‘plotters’’.

The editorial in Issue 14 once more looks at the dynamics within the Republican Movement. It argues that ‘There is much hard work before us, if we are to engage seriously in the job of rebuilding the Irish Revolutionary effort to the point where it can initiate a successful struggle against the bastions of neo-colonialism. Beginning almost from scratch we must organise; we must educate; we must arm.’.

It suggests that:

Let us not fool ourselves on the true state of affairs… the revolutionary front is in bad shape. Popular support has been whittled away over the past few decades by poor leadership and incorrect policies; and our revolutionary base has also been seriously weakened and fragmented from similar causes. No knowledgeable person will suggest that all of this can be speedily rectified. It cannot.

It makes the point that:

The task facing us is not just a relatively straightforward one of regrouping and rearming sufficient forces to launch yet another campaign in the North-East. The fact is, we are faced with the need to build a completely new effort; to launch a completely fresh revolutionary epoch reminiscent of the pioneering labours of the United Irishmen and the IRB. This is a big job, which will require the unqualified commitment of men possessed of determination, staying power and clear-headedness; men who coldly and calmly measure the odds against them, and who set themselves to conquer such odds, in the full knowledge that tangible results will come neither easily nor quickly.

It continues:

We are well aware that erstwhile rebels are now hard at work disseminating the insidious idea that the age of revolution has past in Ireland. We’ve heard that one before. Those proselytes like to cover their spinelessness by projecting their image as that of realistic men motivated by the overpowering desire to come to grips with the very-day needs of the people. Evincing that fake sincerity that is the stock-in-trade of the professional confidence man, these politically dehydrated species will tell you the revolutionary road is now impossible in Ireland. Perhaps it is for them; but to a revolutionary serving a just cause – as ours most assuredly is – nothing is impossible; and that which may appear so to others will merely demand a greater effort of its solution.

It notes that:

The Reformaists have made their position crystal clear. To them a revolutionary struggle, with its associated goals of radical politico-economic change in the interests of the working classes, is out in favour of pork-barrel politics with a social-democratic slant. To go with them is to spit in the face of our long heritage of revolutionary struggle, and all the glib talk in the world cannot obscure this fact.

It concludes:

To adopt the course advocated by us is to project that heritage into the future; to continue by deed that worthwhile mission begun by our predecessors. This is the choice facing both Republicans and Socialists today; a choice all will have to make, because the time is on hand when all must declare themselves for or against THE IRISH REVOLUTION.

This issue also contains a piece on ‘The People’ which examines the base of support for Republicanism and another entitled ‘Cork IRA will break with Sinn Féin – says spokesman’ noting that the UCC branch of the Labour Party in its Spectre magazine [see here in the Archive] ‘carried an interview with a spokesman of the Cork IRA…in it [he] stated that ‘if, however SF decided to become part of the Twenty Six County establishment then the IRA would have no alternative but to break with them’.

Contents:

No.13 An Phoblacht October 1967

Editorial p.1

That Final Step p. 3

A Poor Answer to our Charges p. 4

Politics and Organisation in Revolution p. 6

A Warning to “Plotters” p. 11

No.14 An Phoblacht December 1967

Editorial p. 1

“The People” p. 2

Cork IRA will break with Sinn Fein p. 3

The Question of Principles in the Irish Revolution p. 4

Left Archive: An Phoblacht, Numbers 11 and 12, Irish Revolutionary Forces, May-June 1967 and August 1967. September 29, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Revolutionary Forces [1960s].
add a comment

AP12CVER

To download Issue 11 please click here:
An Phoblacht No.11 May-Jun. 1967

To download Issue 12 please click here:
An Phoblacht No.12 Aug. 1967

To go direct to the Left Archive please click on this link.

Many thanks to Jim Lane for donating two more issues of An Phoblacht – The Republic from Irish Revolutionary Forces. It is intended to have a complete set of this important document in the Archive. It is also important to note how useful this document is in tracing – from a critical perspective, changing attitudes within Republicanism and Sinn Féin and the IRA during the late 1960s. That it was positioned critically in relation to Sinn Féin and the IRA is of particular importance offering a distinctively different view into the changes in those organisations.

As always it is probably most useful to quote briefly from both editions.

Issue 11 has a reproduction of the text by John O’Leary of a piece on Self-Sacrifice, first published in the Irish People on December 19th, 1863.

The Editorial in number 11, is focussed on the idea that ‘Organized Republicanism has always asserted with justification that it has never succumbed to external influences when it came to the management of its own affairs’. It continues:

This is as it should be, and as it must be if Irish Republicanism is to retain that independence elf action essential to is success as a revolutionary movement. When organised Republicanism becomes the lackey of any external influence, it ceases right there and then to be IRISH, and it cannot justifiably claim the capability to serve the Irish People. No movement can serve two masters; it is as simple as that.

It notes:

Over the past few years, we have continually laboured to bring home to all Irish Republicans the hard fact that a foreign directed clique has worked its way into leadership circles, for the express purposes of directing the efforts of the Republican Movement along lines advantageous to the interests of a foreign power.

It continues:

The subversives are, as we have repeated pointed out, drawn primarily from the ranks of the British Communist Party and its Irish sections, which are in turn directed from Moscow.

It suggests that ‘these foreign agents initially entered the movement through the influence of an IRA Headquarters officer’ and argues that while they thought initially he was sincere they now believe they have proof he was ‘recruited into that network which covers Britain and Ireland, and which is managed by the British Communist Party’. It also mentions ‘four-eyes’ Johnson of whom it argues it was no accident that ‘he should so easily enter the leadership circles of the Republican Movement’. And it continues that ‘Johnson, Coughlan and the rest of their clan were on the other side in ’56, but at least they were, for them, being reasonably honest then’.

It argues that in contrast to the ‘self-styled Progressives’ in the Republican Movement ‘we are most assuredly committed to ‘trouble-making’ for all enemies of our traditional Republican aspirations and for all parasites and milk-and-water patriots who embrace Republicanism for the sole purpose of draining it of its fighting blood’.

And it concludes by saying… ‘Unfettered freedom never came to a people gift-wrapped in a ballot box. It is only for those strong enough to take it, and determined enough to hold on to it. Our claim to Freedom and national sovereignty rests squarely on our ability to pursue them by the only means they ever have been won; BY ARMs’.

Other articles in this edition include one taken from the Irish People of October 1, 1864 entitled Doubters and Shams. Another argues under the heading ‘A Source of Weakness’ that ‘It is a sad fact that over the past 50 years the weakest link in the Republican front has been Sinn Féin’. There is a piece on ‘Views on the Present Situation’ which argues that those dissatisfied with the direction of the then Republican Movement should not leave it. And it concludes by asserting that ‘If you desire victory, Arm, Organize, Educate’.

Issue 12 has a striking cover, an illustration of a soldier rising from the flames in which are inscribed dates such as 1798, 1803, 1848, 1916, 1939 and 1956 beside the headline ‘WE WILL RISE AGAIN!’.

The editorial focuses on ‘The issue of the Free State’s entry into the European ‘Common Market’ [which] dominates the activities of the Republican Movement these days. It argues that ‘Many complicated, and at times contradictory arguments are being presented by the ‘Progressives’ to show why the Free States should not enter’. And it continues, ‘We notice that when the ‘Progressives’ deal with the Free State in this question, they talk of it as IRELAND! We notice they talk in terms of ‘our ministers’, and on the ‘relinquishing of national control’ which implies that we presently possess such control’.

It argues that ‘We are not suggesting that entry into the ‘Common Market’ would be in the beset interests of the people. However, the real question for Irish revolutionaries is not the effects of such an alliance but its root cause. And this is a matter which gets little space in the laments penned by the scribes of the Wolfe Tone Society’.

It suggests that:

As a neo-colonial state subordinate to British Imperialism, the Free State has no option but to do what its economic masters dictate. It cannot enter, even if it desired, if Britain does not; and it must enter the ‘Common Market’ regardless of whether it wants to or not, if Britain does. To confuse and cloud this basic issue with talk about loss of sovereignty, is to play the games of the neo-colonialists; because it gives recognition to their claims of an independent politico-economic status, which they never possessed to begin with, and which Irish revolutionaries have never recognised, and rightly so.

It makes the point that:

One only has to read the social, political and economic programmes of present-day Sinn Féin to see this clearly; to see that what they present is not a real alternative politico-economic system, but merely an alternative Free State party to manage the existing system, and which proposes to change that system only insofar as the fundamental interests of its ruling class allow. And it is for precisely this reason that the people in general reject them. The national colour may be green; but the people are not so green that they cannot appreciate that if we are to be stuck with the system represented by the Free State, it is far better to vote for the devil you know than the one you do not know.

The editorial argues that only if State Power is contested and won will there be a possibility to ‘fundamentally alter… the adverse effects of neo-colonialism’.

This edition also contains a piece on ‘Revolution and Force’, another on the issue of how on IRA Sweep Tickets an illustration of a volunteer ‘trampling defiantly on the British Imperialist Union Jack’ has been altered so that the flag ‘blends nicely into the background, and in fact disappears altogether’. There is a long piece on ‘The Road to Free-Statism’ which strongly criticises the Connolly Association, their paper the Irish Democrat and Desmond Greaves. There’s also an article which draws largely on the text of ‘Guerrilla Warfare: A Method’ by Ernesto Che Guevera.

There’s also some wry observations on the then recent Local Elections which argues that ‘The results of the Local Elections amply demonstrate what we have said all along: the road to compromise offers no solution to the problems facing Irish Republicanism’.

No. 11 An Phoblacht May-June 1967

Editorial p. 2

Doubters and Shams p. 4

A Source of Weakness p. 6

Views of the Present Situation p. 8

No.12 An Phoblacht August 1967

Editorial p. 1

Revolution and Force p. 3

The Last Soldier p. 5

The Reason Why p.5

The Road to Free-Statism p. 6

Guerrilla Warfare : A Method p. 8

Is that a fact! Compromise Fails p.11

Left Archive: An Phoblacht, Numbers 7 and 8, Irish Revolutionary Forces, September and November-December 1966 July 21, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Revolutionary Forces [1960s].
1 comment so far

AP7 1966

To go to the Irish Left Archive please click here.

To download No. 7 please click here: An Phoblacht No.7 Sept.1966

To download No. 8 please click here: An Phoblacht No.8 Nov/Dec !966 An Phoblacht No.8 Nov-Dec. 1966

Many thanks to Jim Lane for donating two more issues of An Phoblacht – The Republic from Irish Revolutionary Forces. It is intended to have a complete set of this important document in the Archive. It is also important to note how useful this document is in tracing – from a critical perspective, changing attitudes within Republicanism and Sinn Féin and the IRA of the period.

As always it is probably most useful to quote briefly from both editions.

The Editorial in number 7, from September argues that:

It is paradoxical that Ireland should stand without the services of a virile revolutionary movement at that time when her traditional enemy is dropping on its knees. For years Republicans have beaten their heads against barriers of steel in attempts to break loose from the despoiling grip of British imperialism. Now when that barrier is rent with decay, we stand like gaping fools, devoid apparently, of the energy or the common sense to break forth and smash the rust-eaten shackles of thraldom from our wrists.

…Irish Republicans huddle to debate this or that aspect of the colonial system in Ireland, and how best to alleviate its more adverse effects. This is no time to confuse cause and effect. This is not the time to waste energy trying to REFORM or patch up the system that has been the bane of our people. REFORM BE DAMNED! What Ireland needs is Revolution.

And it continues:

In the past the labourer, the mechanic, the farmer or his sons, the intellectual, the dockworker, the shop assistant, the engineer, all went forth to fight the cause of the middle class under the banner of so-called classless nationalism. ‘Let us not disrupt the unity of the national effort by talking about class interest or class conflict,’ was the great cry of the Irish bourgeoisie. Yes, and you can still hear their lackeys in the Republican Movement rant the same garbage. Well, we are all for UNITY. But this time let it be a unity of all the workers.

Other articles include ‘An Answer to Critics’ by Eoin MacDonaill which rebuffs assertions that An Phoblacht is ‘trying to destroy the IRA’. There’s a piece on Irish Politics and the British Crisis and a glowing review of the Bodenstown Oration given by Seamus Costello that year. There’s also a scathing analysis of the Irish Democrat (of the Connolly Association, which AP suggests is a ‘pseudo-Irish section of the British Communist Party’.

Issue Number 8 from November-December 1966, has a range of articles that include reasonably warm words about Cathal Goulding’s speech at the Sean Treacy Commemoration – however the assertion by Tony Meade that ‘there is however a new element in the willingness to use force; namely that this force will be defensive’ is strongly criticised. In tandem with this is a piece by Paddy Mac arguing that Irish Republicanism Needs Its Armed Men. There’s some fascinating content to this, for example the following which in the context of proposals for the formation of IRA ‘special groups’ and the idea of a ‘dual government’ which would ‘eventually [come] into head-on conflict [with the state]:

For my part, I view any proposal to limit or restrict the future size of the IRA, as a positive step to place that organisation in a completely subordinate position to political horse-traders at best; at worst, I think it is a step to do away with the Army altogether. An IRA composed of a few ‘specialist’ groups is an IRA easily dictated to, and readily shoved around. Regardless of whether or not the majority of the IRA men agree with our political position, the maintenance of, and a primary reliance on, a Republican Army is, to us, fundamental to the success of a liberation struggle which must be fought in the future.

There’s another piece on ‘the yahoos and political con-men, who are making so bold a bid to drag organised Republicanism into the social-democratic orbit’. Finally an article examines the concept of ‘Freedom’

A quote from the editorial will suffice:

To graft revolutionary political labour to the traditional revolutionary militarism of our people, as the woodwork combined with the mechanism and the barrel to make the effective rifle, that is our aim.

Thanks to Jim for the following table of Contents of the two documents.

No.7 An Phoblacht September 1966

Editorial p. 2

An Answer to Critics p. 4

Irish politics and the British Crisis p. 6

Bodenstown Oration p. 10

The Neo-Parnellites – “Irish Democrat” Flies True
Colours p. 11

No.8 An Phoblacht Nov. / Dec. 1966

Editorial p. 2

A good Speech! But: – p. 4

Irish Republicanism Needs its Armed Men p. 5

The Yahoos and An Phoblacht p. 7

Freedom! What Does it Mean? p. 8

Left Archive: An Phoblacht, Vol. 1, No’s 5 and 6, May 1966/July 1966, Irish Revolutionary Forces September 30, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Revolutionary Forces [1960s].
add a comment

AP6cover

To download No. 5 please click here: An Phoblacht No.5 May. 1966

To download No. 6 please click here: An Phoblacht No.6 Jul. !966

As noted before, it is intended to bring the full run of An Phoblacht’s from the IRF over the next few years with editions being posted up on a regular basis. My thanks as always to Jim Lane for providing the Archive with these documents.

These editions are an very useful addition to the documents already posted up from this source in the last few months. As before in order to give a sense of their content a limited selection of quotes from the editorials will suffice.

The editorial in No. 5 notes that:

The 50th Anniversary of the Easter Rising has occasioned much humbug and an immeasurable amount of hypocrisy. The people have been treated to a vast and colourful circus. And yet, desire the outward show of self-assurance and downright arrogance on the part of its promoters, the did not completely succeed in hiding their uneasiness. Apparently, the ghosts of 1916 are hard to dispose of; and it could well be that many ofthose political reprobates who collected outside the GPO to profane the meory of true and honest men, were haunted by the ominous tone of Pearse’s final statement: “you cannot extinguish the Irish passion for freedom; if our deed has not been sufficient to win freedom then our children will win it by a better deed.”

It asks ‘What are the immediate tasks facing Irish revolutionaries?’

In our last issue we presented the I.R.A. Programme of 1933 as being indicative of the goals contemporary Republicans must strive to realise if they are to justify their continued opposition towards the Free State regime. We also called on the present membership of the I.R.A. to exert their influence and DEMAND that the organisation return to its revolutionary position by readopting this programme.

It continues:

At this stage, then, the immediate task of all revolutionaries is to foster the division between Revolutionaries and Reformists by propagating the slogan: A RETURN TO THE PROGRAMME OF 1933. And if there still are revolutionary elements within the I.R.A., they must force the issue so as to determine the prospects of rejuvenating that body. If the I.R.A. persists in its allegiance to neo-Griffithism, then rebels in it must emerge and join hands with the revolutionary vanguard that now exists outside the fold of the I.R.A. and engage with them in the building of a new movement.

And it concludes:

Other groups which exist in various parts of the country, and even individuals, should also consider our proposition. Because as has been said already, unless the I.R.A. is prepared to return to its former position, and quickly, it will be up to representatives of all progressive groups to convene and decide on the formation of a new movement.

The editorial in issue No. 6 continues on from that in the previous edition, enlarging, as it were upon the implications of that earlier editorial.

It suggests that:

During recent months there has been considerable talk about ‘extremist groups’; or ‘splinter groups’ which have broken away from the Republican Movement. And it has ben intimated that the main differences between such groups and the ‘official illegal organisation’ are primarily ones pertaining to the use of violence. The organisation responsible for the publication of An Phoblacht has been listed as one such group; consequently, it is as well to make our position clear on this issue.

It notes:

First of all, we do not consider ourselves a so-called ‘splinter group’. We are a Revolutionary Socialist-Republican Organization, which was founded on the basis of the Republican Programme of 1933. We base our appeal for support on the realisation of this programme; and not on the question of violence as such. The primary differences between our position and that of the Republican Movement, are those which invariably exist between a revolutionary movement and a reformist one.

And it suggests:

In our view, the Republican Movement is no longer an Irish Republican body in the traditional sense. The social, political and economic principles which now motivate its actions are more in tune with ‘Free State nationalism’ than with the Socialist-Fenian gospel that was baptised in blood in 1916. Indeed, it can be claimed without fear of contradiction, that the only real difference between the contemporary Republican Movement and other Free State parties is that while the former insists on the implementation of Article 2 of the 1937 Free State Constitution, the latter ignore it completely.

It therefore states that the Republican Movement’s argument ‘that the elimination of the Border and the setting up of a 32-county parliament would open the door to the removal of the the social and economic exploitation which presently saps the country’s vitality’ is ‘criminally misleading’. And consequently it argues:

In a word there is no basis for a rapprochement between ourselves and the Republican Movement; for as long as it persists in its present crypto-Free State course. – and the fact of whether that movement decides on the use or no-use of violence to get state power has no real bearing on the issue.

It concludes.

Our numbers may be small today, but the day will dawn when the people will appreciate the correctness of our stand. Then we will have a real revolution in Ireland; a revolution whose aim will be absolute freedom.

Below is a full index of the contents of No’s 5 and 6.

AP5:6

An Phoblacht No.6 Jul. !966

An Phoblacht No.5 May. 1966

Left Archive: An Phoblacht, Vol. 1, No’s 3 and 4, Irish Revolutionary Forces, January 1966/March 1966 July 22, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Irish Revolutionary Forces [1960s].
8 comments

AP 3:4

To download the above files please click on the following links: An Phoblacht No.3 Jan. 1966

An Phoblacht No.4 Mar. 1966

Many thanks to Jim Lane for providing the Archive with these documents.

It is hoped to bring you the full run of An Phoblacht’s [see previous], published by the Irish Revolutionary Forces, the Cork based republican socialist group composed in the main of former members of the IRA, over the next year with editions being posted up on a regular basis.

These editions are of considerable interest and the indexes are attached, however, in order to get a sense of them a number of quotes from their editorials will suffice. The editorial in No. 3 is written in the context of the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis and it takes to task the ‘economists’ within SF. These it suggests:

…consider it practical to salvage our chaotic economic position by developing a co-operative system of land management in areas of low yield; and by encouraging the growth of credit unions and by establishing a state banning system so as to make available cheap credit for both industrial and agricultural development.

It further criticises ‘Tom Gill, President of Sinn Féin’ for misquoting Connolly by replacing ‘state ownership’ with ‘co-operative control’. And it argues that what SF is advocating at this point is similar to that of Horace Punkett. It continues with the contention that:

The trouble with Sinn Féin is that its leaders have in some degree come to appreciate the capitalist content of their organisation’s economic policies that were inherited from Griffith. They have a vague idea that these are bad; but they actually do not know yet why this is so. On the other hand, they view socialism through bourgeoise spectacles, so that they find it difficult to accept the economic tenets of socialism as an alternative to their aid policies. Still, they cannot condemn socialism outright: obviously it has achieved a lot of good in many areas. Hence the perplexity which Mr. Gill endeavours to solve by saying “Communism… as it has manifested itself in many countries… is not an ideology which would commend itself to the Irish people.’ The ambiguity of this statement is apparent. Is he issuing a blanket condemnation of communism? Or, is he merely condemning that which manifests itself in many socialists countries, as distinct from all socialist countries? Frankly we don’t know.

It concludes by suggesting that:

Words are easy enough to employ: and safer by far than deeds. If Sinn Féin truly desires to embark on a revolutionary road, then let us see some action in that direction. Let them dispense with the flowery phrases and proceed with the work in a pragmatic and honest fashion. When that day appears, this little paper will have done its work. It will then be silent.

In many respects issue number 4 continues this line of thought. It argues that:

Ireland requires the services of an active revolutionary movement if our people are to survive as a self-respecting community with complete control over its own destiny. Unfortunately no such movement exists today.

It argues that: ‘the main problem with presently functioning Republican organisations, is that they abound in the making of a large volume of incoherent noises, without giving any thought whatever to the substance of revolutionary action itself’.

For instance, Republican Leaders will talk their heads off on the subject of the I.R.A. fighting for Irish Freedom, when they appear at some commemoration or other. But they make no provisions for such a struggle: and from private conversations with them, it becomes very apparent that they haven’t a clue as to how such a war is to be waged, and they show no desire to find out.

It continues:

Also to hear some of them ranting about their new found toy, ‘the economic resistance campaign’ one could easily be mislead into the belief that their economic policies, if ever put into effect, would mean a new and dynamic era for the Irish people.

It suggests that:

The Men of 1916, whom the parasites are now preparing to commemorate, sacrificed their all to rescue the people from the debasing effects of parliamentary opiumism. It was a big price to pay for national salvation, as many an Irish revolutionary has since come to realise; and it will be tenfold greater if we of this generation do not stand squarely behind our responsibilities. The men of 1916 had to do what was necessary, regardless of what was possible, in order to keep the Irish Revolution on the right track. Today, we can still chart our course between the necessary and the possible. But the time is running out, and that juncture is fast approaching where such manoeuvrability is once more denied us. IT IS FOR THIS REASON THAT WE CALL FOR ACTION NOW.

No. 3 An Phoblacht January 1966

Editorial P. 2

The Editor’s Post Bag P. 5

The Second Act of Union ! P. 7

Sinn Fein and the Labour Party P. 11

The Need for Revolutionary Leadership P. 12

A Primer on Revolt. Part 1 P. 13

A Voice from the Past P. 16

No. 4 An Phoblacht March 1966

Editorial P. 2

The IRA Programme of 1933 P. 4

Beware ! Politicans on the March P. 6

Treachery by Union Bureaucrats P. 7

The Free State Regime P. 8

A Primer on Revolt. Part 1 continued P. 9

Left Archive: An Phoblacht Issues 1 and 2, Irish Revolutionary Forces, 1965 May 20, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Irish Revolutionary Forces [1960s], Saor Éire (Cork), The Left.
4 comments

AP2 cover

To download the above please click on the following links: An Phoblacht No.1 Sept. 1965

An Phoblacht No.2 Nov. 1965

Many thanks to Jim Lane for providing the Archive with these documents.

These documents, An Phoblacht, Issues 1 and 2, were published by the Irish Revolutionary Forces, a Cork based republican socialist group composed in the main of former members of the IRA, in September and November of 1965 [for more information see here]. The IRF would become Saor Éire in 1968 (a copy of their publication, People’s Voice is in the Archive here).

These are detailed publications with a broad range of topics addressed of concern to those writing in them. It’s tone is questioning and in obvious opposition to the then Sinn Féin leadership which they considered was essentially deeply conservative and effectively dictatorial in its political line. Indeed they were explicit that their critique about the ‘Socialist Republic’ being foisted upon the Republican Movement in the late 1960s was a sign of its centralisation and political and military weakness.

For example in Issue 1 there is a piece on Progressives Versus Traditionalists: Where does Republicanism Stand? which in its introductory paragraph notes;

Many within that ever narrowing circle of “Sinn Féin Reliables” were noticeably shocked earlier this year when the UNITED IRISHMAN questioned the sanity of Abstentionism in its editorial columns. Frankly, we were more than a little startled ourselves, because this was the first occasion since beginning publication that the U.I. has even hinted at the fallibility of the party line.

It also criticises the IRA from the left as in the following piece:

Most of us are no longer surprised by anything the republican Movement does. however, the IRA statement on the ‘Midleton Anti-Landlord War’ sent a good few of us hardy sceptics rocking. it is not that we object to the ‘Army’ entering into politics. No indeed. We have always held that revolutionary politics and military action are indivisible. But, what sort of politics is this with its: ‘We demand that the de facto government’ do this, and ‘We demand that the de facto government’ do that?

It’s a queer sort of revolution. And to say the least, the whole statement smacks of social democrat influence. We can’t say that the IRA is improving itself by changing from a bourgeois democrat to a social democrat ticket. There’s little difference between them to any revolutionary.

The documents provide amongst the longer articles relevant quotations from a range of figures including ‘Priests on Politics’ and there are articles on Viet Nam: America’s Dirty War, Physical Force: It’s Role in the Irish Revolution and news items from around the world focusing on ‘guerrilla, as well as other forms of revolutionary political action’.

Issue 2 has a number of interesting pieces including one entitled ‘Nationalism is Not Enough’, an analysis of a speech by Cathal Goulding in Drogheda and a long article on the attack by Republicans on HMS Brave Borderer ‘as it departed Waterford’. In the piece which notes that ‘unfortunately no casualties were inflicted’ the anonymous contributor notes that ‘it is a great pity that such men [‘as those who had the courage to take up positions on the banks of Waterford Harbour’] don’t come together with likeminded parties throughout the country, and form a revolutionary party more compatible to their general sentiments. Because they can’t be sure they are never going to receive much co-operation from the crowd they are now tied to’.

One particularly interesting point is that made by Aodh MacElroy where he notes:

…it is not sufficient to make annual pilgrimage to the graves of the martyrs, to do homage and commemorate the hoe roes of yesteryear. Better by far to neglect the pilgrim journey and spend the time mastering the philosophy which motivated the actions of those whose memory we justly revere. Far too many lay their tributes at the shrine and leave as they came, empathy of understanding of what deep motives impelled these men to give their lives for a cause they counted higher than life itself. There is no respect for the dead in remembering the manner of their death, while the cause for which they died lies buried in obscurity and forgotten by those who should keep it alive. James Hope, Wolfe Tone, Robert Emmet, Henry Joy McCracken and James Connolly fought to free Ireland not only from the rule of an alien power but to free her also from the rule of an alien class – and it is that alien class that now rules Ireland.

And crucially:

The working people of Ireland must grasp the fact that the national bourgeoisie have won THEIR REVOLUTION, and are no longer a revolutionary, but a reactionary force. This ruling group are now interested only in maintaing their own privileged position and state power over the Irish people, and everything they do will be with that objective in mind.

It is important to contextualise this with other material issued by this group and others associated with it during this period and after. Jim Lane has noted elsewhere that the ‘kernel of the message that [we] sought to pass on to Republicans’ was that the struggle had encompassed bourgeoise democracy in Tone’s time and revolutionary socialism in Connolly’s time.

To give a sense of the general direction of the documents it is perhaps most useful to provide some quotations from the Editorial on the front page of Issue 1 the aims of An Phoblacht are outlined:

The object of this paper are simple: to restate, in terms of existing conditions, the political philosophy that has motivated doctrinaire Irish Republicans from the beginning; to combat all forms of revisionism parading under the banner of Irish Republicanism; and to expose and combat all other pseudo-revolutionary propaganda, especially that aimed at exploiting the deep-rooted grievances of the nation’s working class, by diverting their energies from their true interest — the realisation of the revolution — and attempting to commit them to the attainment of crypto-bourgeois objects.

It continues:

We are revolutionaries who accept the principles of Irish Republicanism as understood by Wolfe Tone and all subsequent Irish revolutionary theorists. Consequently, our aims are the reconstruction of the nation along the lines compatible to the welfare, security and advancement of the common people of Ireland — that great bulwark of integrity who, throughout the centuries of national adversity, have constituted the heart, the body and the soul of Ireland.

It is scathing of ‘Saturday-night revolutionaries’ and ‘Grattan nationalists masquerading in the garb of Wolfe Tone’ or ‘those spurious individuals who hide their parliamentary leanings behind a revolutionary vocabulary’.

It suggests that:

[The Irish people] are shrewd enough to see that the self-styled nationalists who operate in Leinster House, and the republicans who exhort them to elect Sinn Féin to a 32 county Parliament, differ more in terminology than in essentials. Consequently, although the political hair-splitters of the presently functioning Republican Movement have, apparently, mesmerised themselves with their own sophistry they have fooled very few others.

It asserts that:

If we are to regain our position in the vanguard of Irish radicalism; if we are to again secure a mass support behind the banner of Irish Republicanism; then we must first return to that social, political and economic programme that is both implicit and explicit in our revolutionary tradition.

And…

To regain the backing of our people we must return to that path first blazed by Wolfe Tone, and which was so explicitly defined by his contemporary, Jimmy Hope, who said: ‘It was my settled opinion that the condition of the labouring class was the fundamental question at issue – and there could be no liberty till measures were adopted that went to the root of the evil’.

These documents provide a clear insight into a very specific strand of Republicanism during a period of evident change.

%d bloggers like this: