The Starry Plough
Organisation:Sinn Féin [Official]
Publication:The Starry Plough [Derry]
Collection:Music in the Irish Left Archive
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Subjects: Derry

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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

15th March 2010

The Starry Plough was the newspaper of Official Sinn Féin in Derry ‘Derry’s own Republican newspaper’ as the subheading had it. This edition is of particular importance since it dates from just after the OIRA ceasefire of 1972. The front page is entitled Army Council Sees Growing Danger of Civil War: Why Officials Called A Halt.

The leading article argues that “The decision by the Official IRA to suspend offensive military activity was taken after weeks of consultation with the Executive of the Republican Clubs. It was not influenced in any way by the hypocrites of the ‘peace at any price’ bandwagon. It was clear to us that the violence in the North, if it continued as it had been doing, could lead only to a sectarian war, a war between Catholics and Protestants which would be of no benefit whatever to the working class. That was the single most important reason for the decision”.

Despite the ceasefire the paper takes a combative tone throughout, from a photograph on the front cover alleging that a soldier is ‘Soldier F’ from the Widgery Report on Bloody Sunday to the general approach of articles.

The editorial argues that ‘we will fight repression whether it is in the north or the south’, but it is clear that this will be on political grounds.

The problems of pursuing such a purely political approach are highlighted by a small piece on the back page: The Derry Official Republican Movement regrets the deaths of Vol. John Starrs and young Manus Deery, murdered by the forces of British repression. We tender our sincerest sympathy to their family and friends. Perhaps of particular interest is the centre spread, with an accompanying photograph of Cathal Goulding in Free Derry, which has an article on ‘Communism, the Church and the IRA’ and seeks to counter charges from some clergy that the Official IRA ‘are not really the IRA at all. They are just communists putting themselves forward as the IRA…’ And the article continues later ‘We have no intention of running away from these allegations. There are Marxists in the Official Republican Movement. We DO want to overthrow capitalism. If, because of that people want to call us ‘Reds’ then so be it. As an Irish Socialist put it some years ago ‘I’d rather be called a Red by a rat, than a rat by a Red’. Connolly was a Marxist. He said so’.

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