|Organisation:||Sinn Féin [Pre 1970]|
|Publication:||The United Irishman|
|Issue:||Volume 23, Number 12|
Nollaig (December) 1969
|Discuss:||Comments on this document|
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First up can I thank everyone who helped, contributed and gave advice on this sequence of posts this year - without that this would have been a much less comprehensive Archive. You know who you are. Secondly, and this is in the nature of a request. The sequence of United Irishman I have is missing the copies from January to April/May for 1970. Obviously that was a time of pivotal changes in the nature of the conflict and the arrival of the PIRA. Consequently any documentation from either OSF or PSF that fleshes out the Archive for that period would be very gratefully received. I can scan and return materials provided. Contact me at the usual email.
This last edition of the United Irishman for 1969 is a curious document. There is little in it to hint at the events that would convulse the Republican Movement that Winter and the following Spring. Indeed there’s remarkably little that would indicate the shift in the nature of the conflict across that year. In fact one could argue that given the conflict that would emerge subsequently this was a communication from a much calmer time.
And yet, there is a full page entitled “Beware these men and their Fianna Fáil Gold” dealing with the Voice of the North and supposed inflitration of the Civil Rights Association by FF proxies. And the front cover calls on people to Smash the Special Powers Act, and links this into the incarceration of Malachy McGurran and Prionnsias Mac Airt, Republicans held in Crumlin Road since the previous August.
But even the front page is oddly circumspect. For it suggests that ‘a campaign for the repeal of the Act in its entirety… [including] proposals for the renewal of demonstrations during the present ban… By pickets and at a later date marches… A campaign of civil disobedience were also discussed but details were not released.’
‘Such a campaign would bring the simmering pot of discontent to the boil within a very short period and the possibility of serious street clashes similar to those preceding the August eruption of violence are strong’.
Elsewhere there are pieces on ‘Women Demand Equal Pay for Equal Work’, ‘Civil Rights for Small Farmers?’ and ‘Whither Civil Rights?’
There is a Bogside Republican Appeal with an appeal for funds for a Republican Hall ‘to facilitate an ever increasing membership’ set beneath a photograph of the famous ‘You Are Now Entering Free Derry’ mural. There’s a quite critical review of a book by Bernadette Devlin, which argues that ‘when the situation develops to the stage where the republicans and the socialists are prepared to sit down, discuss policies, work out co-ordinated strategies to get rid of imperial rule, and accept the discipline of joint decisions. One look in vain for evidence of an understanding of this in Bernadette’s book; insofar as policy is made, it appears to emanate from a small group which includes Farrell, McCann and Toman’. A paragraph on the arrival of British troops is oddly prescient, in terms of context, if not in terms of actual events…
Ordinary working class lads have been brought into a strange land, placed among a suffering people they little understand, or sympathise with, and are expected to do the dirty work of British politicians. As they stand guard in drizzling rain against the now bleak and broken landscape of Belfast’s Falls Raod, they look both resentful and puzzled. Little did Kipling realise that the last exploit of Imperial grandeur would look as petty and squalid as this.