Workers Life, Vol. 1, No. 10
Date:February 1981
Organisation: Sinn Féin The Workers' Party
Publication: Workers' Life
Issue:Volume 1, Number 10
Contributors: Info
Dominic Behan, Gerry Flynn, Paddy Gillan, Des O'Hagan, Eamonn Smullen
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

27th April 2009

A relatively lavish production this. A 36 page magazine that covers a broad range of areas. That the production team contained many of those who would be involved in various other SFWP, WP and eventually Democratic Left publications is little surprise.

The editorial is a little coy about the provenance of the magazine (note for example that it isn’t explicitly badged as an SFWP production although clues are there, not least the advert on p.2 for The Bookshop, Gardiner Place). It states that…

Election fever is not in the air, although the media is full of nods and winks. Certainly all the parties are gearing up with constituency council meetings, appointing the necessary committees and generally clearing the decks… Equally the Labour Party apart from one or two notable exceptions can be slotted into the overall concensus [sic] framework… In some constituencies there will be an alternative, particularly in the hardest hit urban areas. Candidates of the stature of Tomas Mac Giolla, Joe Sherlock, Paddy Gallagher, John McManus, all of Sinn Féin The Workers’ Party, will be in the field. It is reasonable to state that more than their own constituencies and party will be taking an interest in their performance.

In keeping with the somewhat neutral tone of the overall presentation there is even a letter published from Matt Merrigan (then District Secretary of the ATGWU) chiding Eamonn Smullen for an ‘homily on trade union unity and soildarity’.

And what to make of an article under the heading Economic Life by the indefatigable Smullen on The need for cheap energy. More than one would have been taken aback to have read that:

It is impossible to have serious industrial development without cheap energy. Cheap energy now means either coal or nuclear power, or both, to generate electricity - it means that and it means nothing else at the same time.

Intriguingly the article then takes a more Northern Irish centred turn. Some too might have been surprised by his analysis that suggests:

“Neither is an all island electricity grid the answer to providing the necessary cheap supplies of electricity - the most optimistic estimate of the possible saving made by such a course is £9 million….

And continues:

The number out of work in NI remains very hight. It is useless to talk about reducing this number on a permanent basis unless the cost of generating electricity is substantially reduced.

And arrives at the, perhaps, surprising conclusion that:

The most important single question therefore for the working class in Northern Ireland is the organising of a campaign for the building of coal-fired electricity generating stations.

Elsewhere there is a featured article on Violence and the GAA which argues that Gaelic Athletic Association members…

Would be appalled by the covert and overt relationship which has existed between the Provisional terrorist organisation and the GAA in Northern Ireland.

And in order to substantiate this claim it continues that:

Facts which clearly underscore the correctness of the concern exressed by such leading GAA members as Tom Woulfe, Dublin and John Grady, Tipperary, former All-Ireland hurler. The clipping which we reproduce of the Anderstown News Saturday, December 6, is a damning indictment of the “violence-GAA syndrome”. The report claims that 3,000 members of the Association marched on the Falls Road to Casement Park in support of the H-Block campaign. Whether or not the figures are inflated and whether or not the clubs and members who marched did so with the support of their organisation, there is one brutal fact which stands out. Casement Park is regarded as the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association in Northern Ireland.

Remarkably towards the centre of the magazine there is a small advertising section based around Heating and Ventilation.

There is also a piece, part of a series Women in Employment written by Aidan Carroll, which considers the Employment Equality Agency. Under Young Life the travails of USI are charted - some familiar old names appear, including one Joe Duffy (“who read the lesson at the Ballybrit youth mass during the Pope’s visit to Ireland”).

Fascism in Britain, a piece by Simon Frith on John Lennon, and a sense that some of the content wouldn’t have gone amiss inside the pages of the CPGB’s Marxism Today from the 1980s. It’s certainly one of the more professionally produced magazines of its sort during this period and the design and content are clearly positioned to be the equal of Magill or This Week - albeit without full colour covers. So very much of its time and indicative of the preoccupations of SFWP as they transitioned from OSF to the WP.

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