Fourthwrite, No. 2
Date:2000
Organisation:Irish Republican Writers Group
Publication:Fourthwrite
Issue:Number 2
Summer 2000
Contributors:Tommy McKearney, Sean Hayes, John Meehan, Malachi O'Doherty, Billy Mitchell, Tony Catney, Meg Robinson, Frances McAuley, Des Wilson, Sean O'Hare, John McAnulty, Anthony McIntyre
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Commentary From The Cedar Lounge Revolution

7th June 2010

This addition to the Archive is in a sense housekeeping. Fourthwrite, the Journal of the Irish Republican Writers Group, is still available on their website , albeit that has not been updated in a number of years, and this edition  is also available in text format there. So we were somewhat hesitant about adding it. However, it represents an important strand, not least because it is a good example of more recent left wing critiques from within and beyond Republicanism, and a very broad range of Republicans at that. And those of us adding to the Archive believe that it is as much the form and format as the text of a document that is representative of a group or a party.

And so it is with this edition which does not simply include Republicans who are supportive or antagonistic to the Good Friday Agreement, but also Malachi O’Doherty and a representative of the PUP. And the range of topics addressed is comprehensive, from arms decommissioning to an interview with Brendán Mac Cionnaith.

The editorial is worth particular mention. It notes that:

One thing we do say though is that we have received a large number of compliments and suggestions from those who insist that for one reason or another they wish to remain anonymous. We shall always respect peoples right to privacy and will not attempt to take unfair advantage of what is said to us in confidence. Nevertheless, the real impact of a platform such as this is when republicans take their convictions into the open arena and speak their mind before the whole world.

It also betrays an unease with the situation.

There is no point in saying in a few years time that you always felt that something was amiss but that you considered it best to stay silent. Silence can border on complicity and where it prevails it is in that mute corner where the battle is lost. If those who know better remain silent, they are almost as responsible for the outcome as those who effect the situation.

As interesting as the text in many documents are the advertisements and there is for instance the intriguing Chicago based Irish Anti-Partition League whose slogan is ‘We serve neither Stormont nor Free State! Conspire and collaborate for the Republic!’.

Incidentally at the Archive we have a policy of not posting up any directly contemporary periodicals unless we have permission from the groups that are publishing them. But we do welcome any and all materials from whatever quarter of the Irish left.

Update - 5/2/2015: The FourthWrite website referred to above is no longer available, but can be found archived on the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine: fourthwrite.ie 2010 

More from Fourthwrite

Fourthwrite in the archive


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  • By: Mark P Mon, 07 Jun 2010 13:51:32

    Am I right in thinking that the IRWG dissolved or split but that Fourthwrite continued on until recently (or may still be going)?

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 07 Jun 2010 14:14:23

    I don’t know to be honest. It seemed to fade out about 18 months ago, although it was involved with the ISN on a conference last year, wasn’t it?

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  • By: Garibaldy Mon, 07 Jun 2010 14:19:00

    Several of the writers pursued different ventures, but I don’t think they would have characterised it as a split, and people continued to write across the different ventures.

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  • By: B Mon, 07 Jun 2010 14:53:19

    “I don’t know to be honest. It seemed to fade out about 18 months ago, although it was involved with the ISN on a conference last year, wasn’t it?”

    I have a copy from Spring 2009 beside me here. I recently emailed them to see if it was still going, and now have a subscription in…

    I believe Tommy McKearney is one of the key players/editor of it.

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  • By: Jim Monaghan Mon, 07 Jun 2010 14:56:20

    They originated with I think “The league of Republican Communists.”. Formed in the H-Blocks. They published a journal called I think Republican Congress. The opriiginal group was I believe pro Moscow.
    Tommy McKearney was the principle writer.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 07 Jun 2010 17:42:35

    Thanks B and Jim. That tallies B with the website. Good to hear they’re still going.

    For the League of Republican Communists here is something from the Archive:

    https://cedarlounge.wordpress.com/2008/07/07/the-left-archive-from-long-kesh-to-a-socialist-ireland-league-of-communist-republicans-c1988/

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  • By: Don Draper Mon, 07 Jun 2010 19:30:49

    v. interesting article by Tony Catney, then a Sinn Fein backroom boy, now regularly accused by the northern Sunday Worst as being the leader of a super-dooper dissident group.

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Mon, 07 Jun 2010 22:55:34

    Where Don? Where? 🙂

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  • By: i4ni Tue, 08 Jun 2010 02:08:08

    These days Tony Catney is no longer with Sinn Fein, having decided to promote republicanism through a republican body. He is a key driving force behind the Republican Network for Unity (RNU) a campaigning body set up for the purpose of salvaging something from the wreckage of a republicanism torpedoed beneath the waterline by the Sinn Fein leadership. He has been central to many debates and discussions where he has presented the RNU analysis of the state of play. He told the Sunday Life:

    [i]It’s about sitting down with each other and working out a common way forward. The Good Friday Agreement hasn’t achieved anything, it’s a sectarian document.When people voted for it they were voting for peace, not the contents of a deeply flawed document.[/i]

    Despite a busy schedule, he has made time for anyone interested in his political viewpoint and on one recent occasion made last minute rearrangements to facilitate the travel schedule of a visiting academic currently working on a book which looks at the resurgence of republican ideas.

    Last week my normal jaundiced view of the peace process hurtled rather than slipped into overdrive on reading a front page news feature in the Sunday Life in which TC, as we know him, was given space to deny allegations against him that he was leader of the Real IRA in Belfast. The story itself did not annoy me. What did were the insights it provided as to the manner in which the allegations were being pushed into the public arena. A line in the article stated that ‘Republican and security sources said they believed Catney was the Real IRA’s Belfast boss.’

    http://thepensivequill.am/2009/07/felon-setting.html

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  • By: i4ni Tue, 08 Jun 2010 02:09:29

    These days Tony Catney is no longer with Sinn Fein, having decided to promote republicanism through a republican body. He is a key driving force behind the Republican Network for Unity (RNU) a campaigning body set up for the purpose of salvaging something from the wreckage of a republicanism torpedoed beneath the waterline by the Sinn Fein leadership. He has been central to many debates and discussions where he has presented the RNU analysis of the state of play. He told the Sunday Life:

    It’s about sitting down with each other and working out a common way forward. The Good Friday Agreement hasn’t achieved anything, it’s a sectarian document.When people voted for it they were voting for peace, not the contents of a deeply flawed document.

    Despite a busy schedule, he has made time for anyone interested in his political viewpoint and on one recent occasion made last minute rearrangements to facilitate the travel schedule of a visiting academic currently working on a book which looks at the resurgence of republican ideas.

    Last week my normal jaundiced view of the peace process hurtled rather than slipped into overdrive on reading a front page news feature in the Sunday Life in which TC, as we know him, was given space to deny allegations against him that he was leader of the Real IRA in Belfast. The story itself did not annoy me. What did were the insights it provided as to the manner in which the allegations were being pushed into the public arena. A line in the article stated that ‘Republican and security sources said they believed Catney was the Real IRA’s Belfast boss.’

    http://thepensivequill.am/2009/07/felon-setting.html

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-244840605690320515#

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  • By: WorldbyStorm Tue, 08 Jun 2010 06:56:59

    Ah yeah, is that the guy who was on television last year representing them (the RNU)?

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  • By: John O'Neill Tue, 08 Jun 2010 09:24:54

    The Irish Socialist Network have been involved in a number of attempts to build left dialogue/cooperation/unity and people from Forthwrite have always been eager to contribute to these efforts. Personally, I have always found Tommy McK to be the most open minded and least sectarian participant and he is very involved in promoting the Independent Workers Union

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  • By: i4ni Tue, 08 Jun 2010 13:03:33

    Very true attended both of your events and found him one of the most inspirational speakers as with this at the Connolly commemoration organised by eírígí in 2008:

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  • By: Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung Wed, 09 Jun 2010 08:58:31

    […] * Irish Republican Writers Group (IRWG): Fourthwrite, Nr 2, Sommer 2000 […]

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  • By: Bakunin Wed, 09 Jun 2010 16:43:00

    Many of the people involved in Fourthwrite are behind and work for the IWU. I was told by those people last summer that less energy is being devoted to the magazine, and the IWU is at the center of their activity.

    I was under the impression that they would like to see it end, but can’t bring themselves to pull the plug. It played an interesting earlier on.

    They are a very nice, smart, and sensible bunch of people — trying to figure out how to move forward in strange times.

    I don’t think it is accurate to draw a link from Fourthwrite to the LCR, and Tommy’s politics have moved beyond any Moscow cheerleading. In fact, he was talking to him, he was more interested in Die Linke and the other, newer anti-capitalist parties.

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