|Issue:||Volume 16, Number 26|
Déardaoin, 30 Meitheamh / Thursday, 30 June, 1994
|Contributors:||Art MacEoin, Neil Forde, Pól MacSté, Séamus Ó Caomhanaigh, Dara MacNeill, Mairtín MacDiarmada, Liam Ó Coileáin|
|Discuss:||Comments on this document|
|Subjects:||Downing Street Declaration, 1993|
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Almost two years into the life of the Archive and the first An Phoblacht/Republican News to be posted up. And this from a very interesting time in the evolution of Sinn Féin. The edition was published at the height of the early stages of the Peace Process, and as the front page put it:
Delegates Will Decide.
Sinn Féin’s Ard Comhairle decided at a meeting on Wednesday, 29 June, to hold a national delegate conference within the next few weeks. The purpose of the conference is to reach a formal position on Sinn Féin’s attitude to the Downing Street Declaration.
Pat Doherty, Vice President of SF was quoted as saying that:
The Ard Comhairle will be seeking support from delegates for its view on how the peace process can be moved on. The issues that lie at the heart of the conflict must be adequately addressed. From SF’s perspective these are: • That the Irish people as a whole have the right to self-determination; • That the exercise of self-determination is a matter for agreement between the people of Ireland; • That the consent and allegiance of unionists are essential ingredients if a lasting peace is to be established; • That unionists cannot have a veto over constitutional change; • That the British government must join the persuaders; • That the London and Dublin governments have a major responsibility to secure political progress.
This is a fascinating insight into the duality of the Sinn Féin approach during this period. For on page 2 there is War News, which details “Belfast post damaged in rocket attack”, “Mortar Hits Mobile Patrol” and so on.
As regards the more clearly leftist elements we can turn to page 4 for “workers in struggle” which details “Management mess-ups behind Aer Lingus crisis” and “Thousands march in support of TEAM workers”. There is a fairly strong concentration on these sort of issues, including news that “Service charges set to strike across Dublin”.
The main editorial has a strangely contemporary ring to it. Under the heading “Crocodile tears for a fat cat” we read that:
The sight of Fine Gael, the Pds and their friends in the Dublin media getting themselves worked up about Peter Sutherland and the presidency of the EU Commission is a sure sign that the silly season is fast approaching.
The editorial continues to argue that ‘the whole thing is a travesty of democracy. The powers wielded by the president and his EU Commission are enormous. Not one of them is elected and they enjoy some of the most highly paid jobs in public administration in the world. They are in effect the government of the EU. No one who does not conform absolutely to the right-wing, monetarist policies that dominate the EU agenda would be allowed near even a lowly clerk’s job in the commission’.
And continues further:
But the demand for an “Irish Presidency” is absurd. Even if he personally would further the real interests of Ireland - and Sutherland definitely would not - he would be constrained by the Treaty of Rome, the Singe European Act and the Maastricht Treaty. Only a President devoted to the process of EU integration, erosion of national sovereignty and policies that have led to mass unemployment, will be considered.
Today the critique of the EU is couched in somewhat more ameliorative language.
Beside the editorial it is notable that there is a piece “Time for nationalists to hold their nerve”. The use of the term nationalist rather than Republican is interesting and perhaps speaks of a need to appeal to a broader constituency within the North. And on the centre pages there is the Report of the Sinn Féin Peace Commission: Charting a course to peace. This lists the summary conclusions of the Peace Commission, some of which make for interesting reading at this remove.
World View rather cursorily deals with international affairs, with a single large article on Guatemala. And other than that there is a fairly broad scope of news and articles.
It seems fair to say that this - unlike many of the documents in the Archive - has the feel of a newspaper. Perhaps the first document to have that quality since the heyday of the Irish People or the United Irishman. But then this is much less explicitly left wing than those other documents and much less clearly ideological.
This text and these files are a resource for use freely by anyone who wants to for whatever purpose - that’s the whole point of the Archive (well that and the discussions). But if you do happen to use them we’d really appreciate if you mentioned that you found them at the Irish Left Online Document Archive…