The Forgotten Revolution (1974)

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The January 1974 issue of the British Libertarian Struggle included a guest article by Briege McKeown, a member of the Official Republican Movement (the collective name for Official Sinn Fein, the Official IRA and their support group in Britain, Clann na hEireann).

Apart from giving us a glimpse at views once held by the movement that evolved into today’s Workers Party of Ireland, it does contain the strange, or at least very poorly expressed, “British workers must be shown the identity of interests between themselves and those in Belfast, Derry and Dublin.  The Protestant worker in the north of Ireland must be force to face the quandary of his identity crisis by resolutions from British “trade union and left groups telling him that he is Irish and that his enemy is British imperialism, and its native gombeen collaborators in Dublin and Belfast, be they orange or green.”

This monthly paper was published by the Organisation of Revolutionary Anarchists (which later renamed itself the Anarchist Workers Association). ORA was part of the ‘platformist’ current within anarchism.

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On the letters page we find someone who signs him/herself simply as ‘R’ expressing a hope “that ORA soon changes its’ policy to one of solidarity with the Provisional IRA’s military struggle”. As an example of the Provos’ left wing credentials the anonymous correspondent writes “Gerry O’Hare, formerly part of the Provo leadership and now in prison in the South, is a left-wing socialist”.

Interestingly, it wasn’t long before O’Hare decommissioned himself from the ranks of the Provos and went off to join Fianna Fail.

 

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Red Rag (1975)

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This little magazine was published by the William Thompson Republican Club, which was formed by two members of the Official Republican Movement (i.e. Official Sinn Fein/Workers Party and Official IRA) who were school students at Newpark Comprehensive School in south Dublin.  It is interesting that as late as 1975 an obviously anarchist influenced publication could come from within a movement which was being increasingly dominated by Stalinism.

The editor, a then 17 year old teenager, remembers

We produced about 100 copies of this on a Gestetner duplicating machine and had no problem selling them in a school of about 550 students.  

Although the pro-Soviet Union crowd didn’t like it – at one internal OSF meeting Eoin O Murchu denounced it as ultra leftist for opposing exam-based education – we were not censured or told to stop by the leadership.  However a second issue never appeared as both of us finished school that summer, and none of the sympathisers we drew to the Club actually joined Official Sinn Fein.  

It was also shortly afterwards that I resigned from the Movement because of its decision to regard the Soviet Bloc countries as “actually existing socialism” and to describe the 1956 Hungarian uprising as fascist.