The United Irishman, Vol. 26, No. 9
Date:1972
Organisation:Sinn Féin [Official]
Publication:The United Irishman
Issue:Volume 26, Number 9
Meán Fómhair (September) 1972
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

12th November 2007

Okay, this one (about 5.5mb) is from my own collection (although an anonymous donor has forwarded copies of the UI from the next number of years, and even better an early copy of the Irish People which will go up on the Archive very soon). Apologies for the idiosyncratic scanning too. The paper size is SRA3 or somesuch which makes for an interesting life when trying to fit it onto an A4 scanner.

The United Irishman, a name to conjure with, and a periodical with a fascinating number of editors in previous years. This issue was a year or so after the OIRA ceasefire and it is clear from the text that OSF was in a sort of limbo between armed campaign and complete cessation. Many many members were in prison. The stresses of keeping a previously active paramilitary organisation were evident. And the implicit contradictions in the approach to the six counties clearly delineated.

It takes a strongly ‘economist’ line. Predictably so. The demand of ‘nationalising the Banks’ was there, and was still there a decade later when I joined the WP. Fear Talun (Country Man) and Fear Oibre (Working Man) report on the Farm Forum and Industrial Front respectively and the editorial attacks the Provo’s ‘Economic War’. The enemy is ‘British Imperialism’, the Provo’s are criticised for believing the enemy is the ‘decaying Unionist capitalist class’ and we read the interesting conjunction of ‘Provisional-Fianna Fáil” (although the dearth of ‘fada’s’ is interesting in itself).

The text is revealing. Already the rhetoric is ramping up. We read here about ‘Provo-Trots’, we read some unkind words about ‘Trots’ in Peoples Democracy, we read further unkind words about almost everyone else.

Some interesting names in here too. I recommend you look up the column inside about USI, and then there is Martin Meehan, and Eamonn Smullen too.

So, it’s all here…

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  • By: Ed Hayes Mon, 12 Nov 2007 09:23:06

    Actually WBS to nit pick, September 1972 is just a few months after the ceasefire (May I think?). Looks great though.

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  • By: splinteredsunrise Mon, 12 Nov 2007 10:23:04

    Aha! The famous ‘Provo-Trot’ period! Which would have come as a surprise to just about everybody in the Provos…

    If memory serves, wasn’t Costello accused of Trotskyism in the UI a couple of years later? They sure liked to spread that one around.

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  • By: Garibaldy Mon, 12 Nov 2007 13:49:17

    Surely the Provo-Trot thing was a response to the Northern Resistance Movement? Which was indeed a provo-trot alliance that no-one in the Provos or the old PD likes to talk about anymore. Embarassing when you are trying to present yourself as the heart of NICRA to set up a rival you see.

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  • By: Garibaldy Mon, 12 Nov 2007 15:09:45

    An interesting mix overall. Some of it is relatively unsophisticated, and is typical of the type of newspaper produced by opponents of the state throughout the troubles, e.g. the stuff on specific army officers etc. However, I’m not sure that I see WBS’ implicit contradictions in relation to the north. What I see is a condemnation of actions seen as leading to sectarianism – let’s not forget this is around 3 months after Bloody Friday – and a strong opposition to imperialist exploitation in all its forms, and all its perceived assistants. The language in which this critique was expressed changed over the next five years or so, although I suspect it would have been changed quicker were it not for the necessity to sound militant to try to head off the Costello split and keep people as the changes came about; the critique, as WBS says, didn’t change essentially. I think there are hints in the critiques of the social and economic issues in the south of the engines of growth over the next decade and a half. I’ve been through quite a lot of this stuff, and the most striking edition was the one in which the ceasefire was announced. The lead story by far was the EEC. This I think reflected the strength of the organisation in the south, and orientation towards its politics. Something lacking even today in PSF, hence its current problems in the 26.

    So I’d say the paper reflects both the heritage of the past and points to the future, especially the praise of trade with eastern Europe.

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  • By: Ed Hayes Mon, 12 Nov 2007 17:01:28

    Interesting that the OIRA in Belfast say that they hold Martin Meehan in the highest esteem. That particular article combines both criticism of the Provos with understanding of why they were fighting. Not something that you got from the WP ever. Similarly the various attacks on the Brits. Never heard such in the 1980s. Of course to be fair there was a lot of water under the bridge by then. And the Provos weren’t the only ones killing civilians in bombings in 1972.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 12 Nov 2007 18:57:48

    Garibaldy, you don’t happen to have a copy of the one when the ceasefire was announced do you? Or one from prior to the ceasefire?

    And tell me, what was the Northern Resistance Movement? I thought I knew every name or acronym of every obscure group over the years, but this one escaped me…

    Apologies Ed, you are of course correct. The ceasefire was a tad earlier.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 12 Nov 2007 19:06:54

    Or should that be later?

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  • By: splinteredsunrise Tue, 13 Nov 2007 10:23:06

    The NRM was a bit of a flash in the pan around 1972. This was the Provos’ attempt to set up a broad front. As Garibaldy says, PD were involved, along with some trad-republican independents from Tyrone and Fermanagh.

    Everybody was trying their hand at this sort of thing back then. The SDLP had their Dungiven Parliament, and IIRC the OSF-CPI relationship hadn’t broken down yet. And yet none of these broad fronts had much impact beyond the immediate.

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  • By: Garibaldy Tue, 13 Nov 2007 10:42:19

    I had a longer response which disappeared due to my stupidity, but Splintered has negated much of it. The NRM was intended as a direct rival to NICRA, to give a more overtly nationalist content to protest, and link it to support for the Provo campaign. It gets one or possibly two mentions in Adams’ autobiography but other than that has been deliberately buried. SS is right that part of the reason for it was that NICRA was heavily influenced by the Republican Clubs and allies in the CPI like Betty Sinclair. An extent of the hostility is that I’ve been told, but cannot confirm as havne’t looked for myself, that on at least one occasion the Provos in west Belfast “attacked” a NICRA meeting.

    I don’t have any copies of the UI. Read them in the library. If anyone has a digital camera, they might be able to photo them in the NLI or somewhere.

    Ed,

    On Meehan, noted that too, although as you say yourself 1972 was very different from 1977 or 1982, nevermind later.

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  • By: Redking Tue, 13 Nov 2007 12:48:55

    As a young boy (as part of a large crowd -funny the way some gun battles were a spectator sport before 1972) I witnessed Martin Meehan and other Provos open up on a British Army patrol in Southway, Creggan in Derry. His nonchalance ( or insoucience?) and lack of concern for his own personal safety was evident. A brave man indeed.

    I guess the bitterness hadn’t crystallised yet between OIRA/PIRA in 1972-the events of Oct ’75 certainly ensured that.

    The ceasefire of May ’72 was observed mostly-but remember it was hedged with conditions-defensive action etc. Some units carried on til ’73 I think.

    WBS-I have a few UI’s from this period 68/69 and 1970 (Falls Curfew edition) Problem is they are A3 and my scanner is A4-maybe I could photo them as Garibaldy suggests or can someone suggest another solution (technically incompetent, I’m afraid)?

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Tue, 13 Nov 2007 19:48:52

    Redking, that was one of the problems I faced scanning this in. Eventually I did it as half pages. If you want and have time scan them in as half pages, email them to me and I’ll use Photoshop to knit them back together. The only trick is to leave a very slight overlap on the text so that one page can overlap the other. Really I guess I’m most interested in an edition (so one would do) from when the OIRA was active if only to give people a taste of what the UI was like then….

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  • By: John Tue, 08 Jan 2013 20:43:48

    I managed to get a hold of about 100 of the united irishman news papers and and i would like to know more about them

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