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Left Archive: Ground Rent is Robbery, REPSOL No. 13, Official Sinn Féin, c. 1974. July 27, 2015

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GRND RENT

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Many thanks to Peter Mooney for donating this document to the Archive – one of many from his collection that will be reproduced here in coming months.

This leaflet published in late 1973 or early 1974 outlines its objectives in the Preface:

The aim of this pamphlet is to show that ground rent is not only ‘faintly ridiculous’ but that it is immoral and that its abolition is long overdue.

A campaign against ground rent is a logical corollary to the fight for peasant proprietary or the demand for the public ownership of inland waters. It is the smashing of a link with the conquest; ground rent is unknown outside Ireland and England, its home of origin.

And the leaflet in the space of 56 pages forensically examines the history of ground rents in 9 chapters, offering both an overview, an an analysis and a course of action to abolish them for good. It also positions this within the contemporary and notes the Association of Combined Residents Associations campaign to abolish ground rent which commenced in June 1973.

The announcement of the campaign, made by ACRA’s PRO Andy Conlon, at a public meeting organised by the Sinn Féin party in Ennis created much speculation among ground rent tenants throughout Ireland.

And:

The Irish democracy in the shape of ACRA, NATO and other groups joining in, are beginning to catch up on this relic of feudal times. May they succeed.

Left Archive: United Irishman – An t-Eireannach Aontaithe, Iuil (July) 1975, Official Sinn Féin July 13, 2015

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JULY UI

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Many thanks to the person who forwarded this to the Archive. This edition of the United Irishman from Official Sinn Féin is one of a series of United Irishman and Starry Ploughs that date from the feud between the INLA and the OIRA in Spring/Summer 1975 and which have been posted up in sequence this Summer.

This edition has a front page that has the quote ‘Freedom for all Irish People’ from Cathal Goulding. It also has photographs from Bodenstown and an outline of why ‘[Minister for Finance, Richie] Ryan’s budget fails to bluff workers.

The editorial deals with both the Budget in the Republic of Ireland and under the heading ‘Reform’ the Official Sinn Féin/Republican Clubs campaign ‘Sectarianism Kills Workers’. This suggests that:

The RUC are making strenuous efforts to blot out the memory of 1969. This will be difficult while there remain leading figures in the ranks who have a record of sectarian partisanship, to put it at its mildest. Reform of the RUC is still a top priority.

The report on the Bodenstown Annual Wolfe Tone Commemoration is exhaustive, reprinting the oration by Cathal Goulding which covers a broad range of issues from Sectarianism, Intimidation and Rights.

And when the Provisionals ceased their provocation, when it seems there might be hope, out of the ashes of destruction, born of hatred and sectarianism there arose the Irish Republican Socialist Party and its Peoples Liberation army, as if to ensure that bigotry might not die, repression might not wither and sectarian incitement might not fade.

He continues:

Unity is our struggle, comrades. We will not be diverted from it by any force, however vicious or murderous its attack, whether it comes directly from the British Army of occupation or from groups who might as well be their agents as the so-called standard bearers of revolution. Unity of the working class remains our aim, as our enemy remains British imperialism in all its forms and our objective remains full freedom – social, economic, political and cultural – for all our people.

Later he argues:

The RUC and the UDR are not and never can be acceptable forces of the administration of law and order, whatever emerges from the Convention, whatever kind of deal is done by the middle-class opportunist politicians, whatever the role of the new regime. As the Republican Clubs have made clear, nothing less than the abolition of the UDR and the RUC will be considered satisfactory. And the RUC must be replaced by a police force which is not armed and does not have hand, act or part in political affairs.

Other articles include the Sinn Féin Platform which quotes Tomas MacGiolla on the economic crisis. There are a number of reports on RUC and UDR oppression in the North There’s a two page spread on Nadezhda Krupskaya, wife of Vladimir Lenin. On international affairs there’s a two page article on Vietnam and the back page has a long piece on the need for an oil refinery in Dublin Bay and suggests that that suggests that ’A really big building site in Dublin would do wonders for trade union organisation’. and ‘The Anglo-American oil companies must love those who are now engaged in an agitation against the building of an oil refinery in Dublin’.

Left Archive: United Irishman – An t-Eireannach Aontaithe, Meitheamh (June) 1975, Official Sinn Féin June 15, 2015

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UIJUNE75

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

This edition of the United Irishman from Official Sinn Féin is one of a series of United Irishman and Starry Ploughs that date from the period of the feud between the INLA and the OIRA in 1975.

This edition has a front page that argues for the ‘Civil rights answer to civil war’ and references a two page spread on Job Crisis Grows – More Firms Collapse. In relation to the death of Liam McMillen which the previous May edition had considerable coverage of there is a letter from OIRA volunteer Noel Jenkinson in Parkhurst Prison on the ‘phenomenon known as the I.R.S.P. and the serious damage being done to the Republican Movement to the advantage of the British’. Another letter sending regrets on the death of Liam McMillen from the Irlandsfronten, Norway is printed. The Editor notes that: ‘…many other tributes have arrived at Head office from all parts of the world…we feel that readers would like to know that a special commemoration was held in New York at which the oration was delivered by Liam Kelly, formerly of County Tyrone’.

The editorial does not mention those events, but instead examines in part ‘the end, however temporary, of the Provisional campaign…’. The Sinn Féin Platform column looks at both the Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill and ‘the total bankruptcy of the Government’s Northern policy’. There’s also a reprint of a message from Sinn Féin to the Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

There’s another long article on International Women’s Year which is prefaced as ‘the contribution by some female members of Sinn Fein to the on-going struggle to secure women’s rights. Some comparisons with Socialist countries are included to illustrate how far the women of Ireland must progress to secure equality with men’.

On the last page there is a short piece ‘I.R.A. denies attack’. It notes that the ‘Irish Republican Publicity Bureau has been asked to release the following statement issued by GHQ Irish Republican Army’ and ‘Mr. Costello has accused the Irish Republican Army of an attempt on his life. The Irish Republican Army did not shoot Mr. Costello.’

Left Archive: United Irishman – An t-Eireannach Aontaithe, Bealtaine (May) 1975, Official Sinn Féin May 25, 2015

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UI LMC COVER

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This edition of the United Irishman from Official Sinn Féin is of a piece with the issue of the Starry Plough posted up in the Archive last week. The headline is ‘Tribute to Liam Mac Maolain (Billy McMillen) who was commander of the Belfast Brigade of the Official IRA at the time and was killed by the INLA during the feud following the establishment of that organisation.

This edition, published at the height of the feud includes reports on the murder of OSF member Paul Crawford and a centre spread that offers an overview of the life of McMillen as well as excerpts from the oration at his funeral. It contains the following taken from a statement issued by the Ard Comhairle of Official Sinn Féin:

Mr. Liam McMillen was a lifelong Republican, a member of the Ard Comhairle of Sinn Fein for the past ten years, he was one of the architects of the present policy of the Republican Movement. He was totally committed to the anti-sectarian struggle and one of the foremost in promoting dialogue between the Northern Roman Catholic and Protestant communities and people’s organisation on a wide range of issues form housing conditions to saving individual lives. He opposed with all his ability both the attacks of the British Army and the efforts of the Provisional o involved the Republican movement in the mildness anti-civilian bombing campaign for the Provisionals. He stood above all others in the Six Counties as a bulwark against the Republican Movement being drawn into a situation which would ultimately end in the destruction of the Movement and postpone for years the chance of genuine national political and economic emancipation.

This statement also contains the following:

With regard to [an IRSP] statement, the IRSP claim that there were developments in the ‘dispute’ between the RISP and the IRA. The truth is that Jim McCorry contacted a member off the Alliancd Paryt in Turf Lodge asking for talks with the IRA an date PLA. In fact, the PLA is the IRSP. The statement by the IRSP that their members were not involved simply means that the killing was done under the name PLA. The attacks on our membership over the past few months have been carried out by full-time paid killers, mercenaries, whose purpose is to smash our organisation.

The oration by Cathal Goulding includes this:

[Liam McMillen] recognised that the first and greatest enemy was British imperialism and he fought for separation. But he also saw the failure of blind nationalism and he struggled for civil rights. He felt the need of the people of the Six Counties for peace and maintained a ceasefire. He heard the demand for political action and he died on his way from election headquarters. He recognised the dangers of sectarian civil war and he was murdered by those who would, as coldly and cynically as they shot him, start the sectarian conflict that would consume the working class.

It is worth noting the tone of the oration is particularly heated in relation to Seamus Costello and Bernadette McAliskey (who was involved in the IRSP for a relatively brief period of time).

Notable in the document is the focus on other issues including a report on the Ard Fheis of Chonradh na Gaeilge, a piece calling on people to ‘Oppose the Collaboration’ between the Dublin Government and the British Government on security matters on an all-island basis. There’s mention of a ‘police attack on Cork Sinn Féin HQ’ and in international affairs an article on the then Czechoslovakia which takes a very positive view of ‘the intervention in the country of the armies of the Warsaw Pact countries’ where it suggests that ‘the intervention only lasted for a very short time. There was no mass repression, no exceptions, no bombing, no internment, no attempt to take over Czech industry and natural resources, no attempt to break up or divide Czechoslovakia and no attempt to destroy the culture or language of the Czech people’ and concludes that ‘Despite the troubles of the past, Czechs have a bright future ahead of the them’. Another piece examines the conflict in Angola.

The last page contains a number of pieces on unemployment and the right to work and an application form to ‘Join the Republican Movement’.

Left Archive: Where We Stand: The Republican Position – Speech by Tomás MacGiolla, July 1972 – Republican Clubs/OSF January 5, 2015

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Official Sinn Féin, Republican Clubs.
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REPCLUBS1972COVER

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Many thanks to Peter Mooney for donating this document to the Archive – one of many from his collection that are being posted up this year and next.

This document, published in 1972 by the Republican Clubs, was the text of a speech delivered by Tomás MacGiolla that year to the Republican Clubs Conference in Carrickmore, Co. Tyrone. Sixteen pages long it offers a particularly striking insight into the thinking of the Republican Clubs and Official Sinn Féin at that time.

A selection of quotes will give a sense of the document – and in particular the orientation of the Republican movement during the 1960s and after:

When the Republican Movement evolved its revolutionary strategy in the middle sixties, it was clearly based on a peoples’ struggle of their ownership of the wealth of their country and for full control of their lives and destinies. We said then and have repeatedly emphasised since that no elitist group could emancipate the Irish people. Only the people themselves could win through to victory and establish a democratic socialist republic.

It suggests that:

Here in the 6 counties the paramount issue on which a mass struggle could be built was clearly the issue f democracy and basic human rights. The Republican Clubs had been active on the economic issues of housing and unemployment which have achieved such success amongst the people in the south. But all the time they came up against the barriers of sectarian discrimination and second-class citizenship which prevented the development of united working class struggle. We all therefore, threw ourselves into the civil rights struggle.

Left Archive: Bray Comment, No. 1, May 1975, Official Sinn Féin May 26, 2014

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OSF1975

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This short one page document from Official Sinn Féin in Bray covers both local issues – Playgroups and Nurseries – and the broader issue of unemployment. It notes the number of unemployed in Bray and the 26 counties.

It notes that Sinn Féin stands for…

A socialist society in Ireland, a society that puts the needs of the people before the profits of the rich. We have a consistent record of struggle for such a society in the trade unions, tenants association and small farmers defence association. We are fighting for your interests and need your support.

It concludes with an exhortation to ‘Join Sinn Féin – 30 Gardiner Place’.

Vols Colman Rowntree & Martin McAlinden – 40th Commemoration May 22, 2014

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Northern Ireland, Official IRA, Official Sinn Féin, Republicanism, Republicans, The Left.
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Many thanks to the person who forwarded the text of the speech delivered at the Commemoration for OIRA Volunteers Colman Rowntree and Martin McAlinden.

Rowntree and McAlinden_Page_1

Rowntree and McAlinden_Page_2

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Left Archive: Culture and Revolution in Ireland, Eoin Ó Murchú, Official Sinn Féin, 1971 March 10, 2014

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CULREVMURCHCOVER

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CULREVMURCHFULL

This document issued in 1971 by Official Sinn Féin and written by Eoin Ó Murchú, engages with the issue of Culture and Revolution in Ireland. In the course of 24 pages it examines ‘What is Culture’, discusses ‘Native Irish Culture’, considers ‘Imperialism and Culture’ and ‘Socialism and Culture’ and then ‘Language and Culture’ and proposes a ‘Manifesto of the Cultural Revolution in Ireland’.

It is too long a document to give more than a brief overview but the Introduction will serve to offer some insight into its overall approach.

As noted in the Reamhra:

Culture is av dry wide term that embraces many meanings. Some associate culture with the individuals who talk about art and drama, the arty-set; others associate it with literature, art, music, etc., which people have produced; for us, revolutionaries, it has a wider and yet more specific, meaning – a meaning which places culture in its political context. Culture is the response of a people to the environment they live in. As such, the culture of a people includes every aspect of their lives – the way they work, eat, cohabit, play – and it is not confided to the artistic means which different civilisations have developed. What we as revolutionaries are concerned about in in this question of culture and art is the way people’s ideas and attitudes are formed, about the development of revolutionary consciousness.

Ó Murchú quotes Mao Tse Tung’s definition:

‘A given culture is the ideological reflection of the politics and economics of a given society’.

Ó Murchú argues that:

We will always find in our efforts to win the people over to support of our political and economic programme that what is clear to us is often vague and confusing to them. The culture of our present society is not one that encourages revolution, for the dominant economic and political ideas are those of the dominant class in Irish society, and that class obviously is opposed to the social revolution to which we are committed. The whole aim of the cultural apparatus of the state is to condition the people, through its educational system, the mass media of radio and newspapers, and through the general promotion of mythology and superstition.

Quoting Pearse he continues…

Pearse described the educational system that the English imperial government foisted on the Irish people as the ‘murder machine’. ‘The system has aimed at the substation for men and women of mere Things…but these Things have no allegiance. Like other Things they are for sale’.

He notes the ‘immediacy of the cultural question [which] can be seen from the fact of the economic and social existence of the Gaeltacht is so tenuous at the moment.

And he concludes:

…this paper does not pretend to be definitive on this matter of culture. It is not holy writ or dogma and the production of the lecture as a pamphlet is an attempt to widen the scope of our internal education programme.

If the subject is properly discussed and criticised we ail be able to make a programme of policy, perhaps on the lines indicated in the final section, which is called ‘The Manifesto of the Cultural Revolution in Ireland’.

Briefly in relation to the Manifesto, it is notable that he argues that:

Socialism needs artists and intellectuals who will [present the socialist view of humanity and of world progress]… and because only socialism in the modern, because only socialism is responsive to humanity, because only socialism can enrich humanity socialists therefore have the right to demand of artists and intellectuals that they champion the cause of the people in their writings and in their art. If they do not then the socialist movement will expose them for the defenders of imperialism that they must be.

He also suggests that:

The revival of Irish is an integral part of any cultural revolution in Ireland. This does not mean that every person will bee forced by some miraculous compulsion to speak Irish. What it means is that it just be the conscious policy of Irish revolutionaries to call for those measures that will assist the revival of the language: More time and programmes in Irish on television on radio, the bias of a revival programme must be towards the Gaeltacht, for the Culture of the Gaeltacht is a living and vital thing while that of the Galltacht in Irish is either an imitation of Imperialist culture or a weaker version of a pure original.

We must demand of all mass media, in the North as importantly as in the South, that else mass media be used to develop the living culture of working people. The Orangemen think that the Six County state is theirs, but there is as much time devoted to Orange culture on Northern television as there is to any other aspect of Irish culture.

Left Archive: Nuclear Power & Ireland, Research Section, Department of Economic Affairs, Sinn Féin the Workers’ Party, c.1980 June 4, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Official Sinn Féin, Sinn Féin The Workers Party, Workers' Party.
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SFWP NUCLEARTo download the above file please click on the following link:

WP NUCLEAR

This document, issued by the Research Section of SFWP is of particular interest appearing as it did during a period where the issue of nuclear power loomed large in the consciousness of Irish citizens due to the possibility of a nuclear reactor being constructed at Carnsore Point. That never came to pass, but the document attempts to engage with the issue.

It is divided into an Introduction, an overview of various technical and scientific aspects of the production nuclear power, a consideration of Alternatives and Buying Nuclear Power as well as a Conclusion.

In the introduction it notes that in 1978:

…we published a pamphlet on Energy which examined the question of providing electricity by using various fuels in order to produce electricity as cheaply as possible. We considered that nuclear power would not give us cheap electricity. Since then there have been further developments in relation to energy sources and we believe that a full and public debate on the issues involved in the energy problem for Ireland is essential.

At this remove it is interesting to see the mention of nuclear fusion reactors, which the text notes ‘Fusion reactors are not likely [to be in use] before about 2,000 or later’.

It notes the events at Three Mile Island in the United States where ‘mechanical and human failures led to a release of low-level radiation into the atmosphere around the Three Mile Island plant’. It continues ‘The anti-nuclear lobby seized on the accident as proof positive that all nuclear reactors are unsafe and therefore should be closed down. Countries with nuclear power plants, the vast majority of them, did not see the wisdom of closing down nuclear power plants’.

In light of the Chernobyl accident only a short number of years later the following appears somewhat optimistic:

The nuclear accident at Harrisburg caused expressions of concern around the world. Energy officials in the Soviet Union and elsewhere let it be known that while increased precautions may be taken the nuclear power programme will go forward.
In an interview with the newspaper Trud Fyodor I. Ovchinnikov, the Deputy Minister of Electricity and Electrification, said that the possibility of a slip-shod attitude existed where private interests, in this case those of the owner of the nuclear energy station, were regarded as of paramount importance.

The section on Alternatives is somewhat cursory, and argues that ‘what the anti-nuclear lobby are asking countries with an urgent and vital need for supplies of cheap energy to do is take a theory on trust, to make an act of faith in the possibility of producing great quantities of electricity in this way.’

The Conclusion clearly points towards the eventual use of nuclear power, albeit suggesting that in the context of reactors produced in the United States ‘the private enterprise approach is obviously not making sufficient safety provisions’ while ‘nuclear power stations built in socialist countries are more advanced on safety… but this may mean they are more costly to build and therefore will not compare favourably with the cost of stations run on conventional fuel’. Interestingly there is no mention made of British or other European reactors.

Left Archive: National College of Art A Case History of Education under Neo-Colonialism. c.1971 – NCA Student Union. May 27, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, National College of Art (later NCAD) Students Union, Official Sinn Féin, The Left.
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NCACOVER

To download the above document please click on the following link: NCADOCGO

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

This document was published by the Student Union of the National College of Art in Dublin (later the NCAD), and written by Paddy Gillan. The dedication is suggestive of its political provenance:

To Cathal Goulding, house-painter, who spoke at a student seminar in November 1970; trusting that he and his fellow tradesmen will find it of value to apprentices.

As the acknowledgements explain, the ‘pamphlet is, primarily, the result of a seminar – “Art and Society” which was held in the NCA in November, 1970’. It notes that ‘The theoretical guidance of speakers at the seminar – in particular, Jack Dowling, Lelia Doolan, Seamus O Tuathail and Eoghan Harris – helped enormously in my attempt to analyse the NCA situation’

And continues:

‘For advice and help in writing this pamphlet, I am indebted to Nell McCafferty, Anne Harris and John Armstrong’.

It is broken up into five chapters or sections and attempts to give an overview of the NCA and its then situation. At that time the College was situated as part of the Leinster House complex between ‘Dáil Éireann and the National Library in what were once the stables of Leinster House’. The Overview notes that at the time 120 students were in attendance in the institution, ‘eighteen class-rooms existed in the College, many of which are closed, necessary equipment is scarce. Rules and regulations governing the use of such equipment as exists result in it lying idle more often than it is in use. Maintenance of the NCA is in the hands of the Board of Works. The building is patrolled each night by a military picquet; the attitudes to academic discipline reflect this’.

The Background suggests that from its inception to the 1920s:

The school [Metropolitan School of Art – as was] was a colonialist institution. The work conducted in [it] was a mixture of Graeco-Roman and English art-decorative traditions. This was actualised in the form of individual art-objects – drawings, paintings, sculptures – and multiple craft objects which were for private consumption. The actualisation took place in a British colony, the people were politically, economically, culturally and educationally oppressed. The staff and students of the school were, essentially, privileged and their function was to serve the cultural needs of the beneficiaries of colonialism in Ireland – the British, Anglo-Irish and upper-middle class sections of the community. As it served an elite minority, the school was neither a proper cultural or educational establishment because proper culture and education must serve and relate to the whole of a community; furthermore, it was almost totally isolated from the community. Elitism and isolation continue to affect the NCA.

There is much more, not least an interesting insight into the history of the NCA Students Union, formerly the NCA Students Representative Council, which is criticised for having formerly:

..concentrated purely on social affairs. Apart from meeting at social functions, NCA students were effectively disunited and disorganised within the College… student general meetings were rarely held; when they were, it was to discuss the Annual Art Ball.

But the account of developments in the 1967 to 1971 period gives – perhaps – an echo of events occurring further afield, not least in the form of student boycotting of classes due to conditions in the NCA in relation to lack of staff and resources culminating in a ‘work-in’ in February 1969 (there’s an entertaining reference to Brian Lenihan, then Minister of Education, being forced ‘to leave a meeting at TCD through a toilet window after repeatedly refusing to state why he had closed the NCA [on foot of student actions]’. In April there was an occupation of the NCA and the following year there was another occupation and by January 1971 NCA students were picketing the Department of Education on a daily basis and further occupations ensued.
The final section, Beyond History addresses further the issue of neo-colonialism and the position of the NCA within that context.
The pamphlet also gives a sense of the times and the attitude to cultural areas within the state. There’s one telling quote from Terry Kelleher in Hibernia from 1970:

The crux of the matter is that the NCA is not economically productive in the way that a school of engineering or college of technology can be. Neither is the College a vote-catching issue.

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