|Irish Revolutionary Forces
|An Phoblacht [IRF]
|Volume 1, Number 11
|Comments on this document
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Please note: This document was added to the archive together with An Phoblacht, Vol. 1: No. 12. The commentary refers to both.
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.
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.
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