Sean Cronin: The Rights of Man in Ireland
Organisation: Wolfe Tone Society
Author:Sean Cronin
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

26th August 2013

This document, issued by the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society  in 1969 is - as caption on the back cover notes:

…published as a contribution to the struggle of the Irish people, North and South, for their civil rights. It is based on a lecture delivered by Sean Cronin, a founder member of the Society, to a cross-border symposium in Castleblaney, Co. Monaghan, on November 30, 1964. The material has been completely rewritten and brought up to date by the author.

In outline it seeks to give an overview of the roots of the division in the North and more broadly and the economic, political and social structures underpinning that division. It also gives an outline of the changing political situation to 1969.

It’s provenance, as a publication of the Wolfe Tone Societies - established by Sinn Féin and the IRA, places it directly as a Republican publication, in this instance on the cusp of the split in Republicanism in the late 1960s. It’s worth recalling that Cathal Goulding regarded the Societies as ‘a think tank that would be of an educational and agitational nature’.

As the Foreword, by Cronin, notes:

No one talked much about civil right [when the symposium was delivered], but the ills were there. A spark set the campaign on fire last October 5 in Derry City when a now discredited Minister used arbitrary power to stop a march. The only justification for bringing this paper up-to-date is the dramatic developments of the last six months. Much has been accomplished, but he wrongs remain. Some of them are spelled out here. And since this document is addressed not to one part of Ireland but to the whole, the indictment does not stop at the Border.

It continues:

A movement dedicated to social and political change for the whole island is overdue. Call that revolution if you like, it is still needed. We must cease leaning on the old order which called on Westminster for help whenever it was in danger. We see that stated again by those who would outbid the loyalists in their talk of the North as ‘an integral part of the UK’ while urging Whitehall to intervene for the good of Ireland.

He suggests that:

The young know that only a movement embracing Catholics and Protestants will achieve great things today. Or deserve great things. Sectarian politics have been the curse of the North and the tragedy of Ireland.

He notes that:

From 3,000 miles away [he was writing this in New York] one must resist the temptation to pass judgements or hand out advice. Yet it is only right that I should state my own bias. I believe that the north belongs to Ireland and that Ireland belongs to its people. But I also believe that the struggle for the right in the North will take place within the North. I hope it stays disciplined, grows formidably, remains non-sectarian and achieves its aims non-violently.

He concludes by:

[thanking] the Wolfe Tone Society for deciding to publish the Castleblayney paper at this time. From its foundations in the early 1960s, this organisation has dedicated to achieving for all Irishmen the full rights of Irishmen. If this booklet helps that aim in any way, the credit should go to the unselfish men and women of the Wolfe Tone Society.

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