|Discuss:||Comments on this document|
Please note: The Irish Left Archive is provided as a non-commercial historical resource, open to all, and has reproduced this document as an accessible digital reference. Copyright remains with its original authors. If used on other sites, we would appreciate a link back and reference to the Irish Left Archive, in addition to the original creators. For re-publication, commercial, or other uses, please contact the original owners. If documents provided to the Irish Left Archive have been created for or added to other online archives, please inform us so sources can be credited.
This is a fascinating document from the early 1970s which seeks to explain the split in Sinn Féin on January 11th 1970 and reprints in full “a statement was issued subsequent to a meeting of the Caretaker Executive of Sinn Féin on January 17, 1970”.
The Sinn Féin organisation, since its foundation in 1905, has consistently denied the right of the British Parliament to rule in Ireland. Similarly, Sinn Féin has refused to recognise the two partition parliaments at Stormont and Leinster House, forced on the Irish people under the British Government of Ireland Act, 1920, and the Treaty of Surrender of 1921.
The recommendations which were made were two in number:
(a) That the relationship with “other radical groups” involving co-operation for the achievement of limited objectives be now brought a stage further; that it be formalised into an alliance to be known for the sake of convenience as the ‘National Liberation Front’.
(b) That subject to certain conditions, etc, Republican elected representatives should participate in Westminster, Leinster House and Stormont. Some of those who came into the Movement from the Irish Worker’s Party were prominent on both the Conference of 1965 and the Commission of 1968-69. In point of fact, by 1969, they had, with the aid of a few long-standing members, become the ‘master-minds’ and policy-makers of the Republican Movement. One of them in particular had been in charge of an ‘education department’ for the stated purpose of educating new members and reeducating older members into certain social and economic policies.
There is no doubt that an extreme form of socialism was being pushed on the Movement by the ‘policy- makers’ referred to and their aides. This was a further reason for the ‘walk-out’. While we, who went to Parnell Square, believe in a Democratic Socialist Republic of all Ireland, it seems certain that the ultimate objective of the leadership which remained at the Intercontinental Hotel is nothing but a totalitarian dictatorship of the Left.
Furthermore, in the opinion of the “master-minds” there was no need for establishing a Republican Youth Organisation when the Connolly Youth Movement existed, nor was there any need for the Republican “Clann na hEireann” in Britain since the Connolly Association was there.
It is of interest to note that the entire Cumann na mBan organisation was expelled from the Movement because it objected to these “radical groups” with their banners taking part in the Bodenstown parade of 1968. The Sligo town cumann of Sinn Fein, which included the Mayor, the late councillor Norbert Ferguson, was disbanded in 1969 because they objected to the local Connolly Youth Movement marching· as a body in uniform in the annual Easter Commemoration parade. After the Republicans were thrown out without their side of the case being heard, a new Cumann was formed consisting almost entirely of the Connolly Youth members.
We leave it to the people of Ireland to draw their own conclusions in regard to this point. We know that in other countries which have come under the control of organisations similar to these “radical groups”, totalarian dictatorship has been the outcome. We have no reason to believe that the result would be any different in Ireland
Interestingly the document discusses ‘Our Socialism’.
Our Socialism envisages the nationalisation of the monetary system, commercial banks and insurance companies, key industries, mines, building land and fishing rights; the division of large ranches; an upper limit on the amount of land to be owned by any one individual; the setting up of worker-owned co-operatives on a wide scale in industry, agriculture, fishing and distribution, but still leaving ample room for private initiative under state supervision. The extension and development of Credit Unions is also included.
What the junta which remained in control in the Intercontinental Hotel seek would lead to dictatorship and in this way they travel the same road as the Communist Party of Northern Ireland, the Irish Workers’ Party and the Connolly Youth Movement.
The document also offers ‘Wrong Assumptions’:
A number of assumptions and impressions exist in the public mind due to speculative and inaccurate reporting:
(a) That we are militarists who will promote ‘border raids’ is untrue. We will, nonetheless, support all efforts to defend our people in the 6 Counties.
(b) It is said that we are ‘wild men’, whose policies are crude and old-fashioned, while those now in opposition to us are reasonable people. To this we reply that while we adhere to basic principles we believe in forward-looking policies as has been outlined in this statement.
(c) The generalisation that those who intend recognising Westminster, Stormont and Leinster House are ‘progressives’, while we are ‘traditionalists’ is also false. They will at best end up in parliamentary blind alleys as have other splinters from the Republican Movement — Cumann na nGaedheal (now Fine Gael), Fianna Fáil and Clann na Poblachta, not to mention the Northern Nationalist Party.
There is also a reprint of ‘These Are the Provisionals’ a piece from the New Statesman by David George.