|Sinn Féin [Pre 1970]
|The United Irishman
|Volume 20, Number 5
|Deasún Breathnach, Seamus Costello, George Gilmore
|1916 Easter Rising: Anniversaries and Commemorations
|Comments on this document
|Westminster Election (NI), 1966
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It seems appropriate this Easter to look back both to 1916 and 1966. With that in mind the Archive posts this edition of the United Irishman from that latter year in order to offer an insight into pre-split Sinn Féin during the mid to late 1960s. Many thanks to Spaílpín for donating this issue to the Archive.
The front page is split between an article on how a Jury had been unable to agree in regard to Cathal Goulding’s possession of a weapon and ammunition, a report on a police baton charge at a Republican parade en route to Glasnevin cemetery and a report on ‘the greatest ever Republican demonstration held in the North’. Seamus Costello delivered the oration which included:
If we of this generation are to pay a fitting tribute to the men who died for us all in 1916 it is absolutely essential that we understand the ideals for which they died. The most widespread misconception outside the Republican Movement concerning the men of 1916 is that they had died simply to change the colour of the flag and the post boxes- that they were a group of romantics unconcerned with the everyday problems of the people. Nothing could be further removed from the truth.
He continues by discussing the situation in the Republic after ’45 years of so-called ‘independence’.
What they [Irish politicians] mean [when they say we are ‘free’] is that they have accepted the existence of Partition, with its consequent evils of emigration, unemployment and sheer poverty. They would also have us believe that that selling of our national assets to the first foreigner who has the money to buy is a hallmark of freedom. They would also have liked us to believe that the use of the infamous Offences Against the State Act against workers who are struggling for a just wage is a necessary and desirable thing.
Mentioning the ‘so-called ‘Free Trade Agreement’, he suggests that:
This agreement which will make Ireland more dependent on Britain’s goodwill politically and economically than at any times since the Act of Union – this, then is the ‘freedom’ that Mr. Lemass would like us to believe the patriots of 1916 died for.
He considers the situation in Northern Ireland:
The North today is a place of carefully fostered bigotry and sectarianism. It is also a place where an extremely high proportion of the population is denied the right to have a political organisation which represents their point of view. It is also place where religious differences between Catholic and Protestant workers are deliberately fostered by those whose only purpose is the exploitation of all workers.
It is essential that we understand how discrimination agasint any section of the working classes works to the benefit of the Capitalist class. The great majority of people in the North are either industrial workers or small farmers who are controlled economically by a majority of the wealthy and privileged capitalists. It is the business of these capitalists to maintain their privileged positions…
He argues that:
The first aim of the Republican Movement is to unite all sections of the Irish people, irrespective of class, creed or political persuasions in their demands for political and economic independence.
And he argues that 1798 and Connolly prove this task is not impossible. And he concludes by suggesting:
We will not compromise on this question [the evacuation of British troops from our country]. No foreign troops under no matter what flag will ever garrison Ireland in peace. [text bolded in original].
The contents of the rest of the publication are eclectic. They include Notes and Comments on ‘Empty “Patriotic” Rhetoric. A report on the ‘election rout of Republicans’ in the ’1966 Imperial Elections in the Six Counties’ which suggests a renewed focus on ‘bread and butter issues’. Another piece by Deasún Breathnach is entitled ‘Invitation to Revolution’ and there is a long report on the Easter Week Commemorations which quotes Tomás MacGiolla as arguing that:
The Irish people must oppose the unchristian capitalist system inherited from Britain which leads to the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few and the permanent degradation of the many who are deprived of essential health and educational facilities, job security, a decent wage and satisfactory living conditions.
There is mention of work done by the Clann na hÉireann on Glencolumbkille working in tandem with the Errigal Co-Operative. A focus on sport is also evident. The book service and titles offered therein is of considerable interest. There is also an IRPB Statement effectively disavowing responsibility for ‘damage [which was caused to various public utilities].