United Irishman, Vol. 33, No. 5
Organisation: Sinn Féin [Official]
Publication: The United Irishman
Issue:Volume 33, Number 5
Bealtaine (May) 1975
Collection:1975: Official Sinn Féin/IRSP Split and Republican Feuds
Type:Publication Issue
View: View Document
Discuss:Comments on this document
Subjects: Billy McMillen Northern Ireland Consititutional Convention, 1975

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

25th May 2015

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’.

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  • By: Padraig Yeates Mon, 25 May 2015 08:01:40

    Thanks for this. Surprising to see how many people mentioned in paper are now dead. Some quite recently. I must be growing old

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  • By: Phil Mon, 25 May 2015 09:40:40

    Sad times.

    On a minor point, what were relations with the CP like at this stage? Endorsing the 1968 ‘intervention’ is pretty unusual for a non-aligned force.

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  • By: john harper Wed, 27 Jan 2016 01:07:34

    Billy Mc Millan was a hero an out an out socialist,he is greatly missed for his wisdom,and his humilatiy,agreat man and a man before his time.

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  • By: Jim Monaghan Wed, 27 Jan 2016 08:47:02

    I recently read this and Look Left (http://www.lookleftonline.org/). Hard to see any connection between them.

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