27 March 2008 Edition
An Phoblacht launches special limited Dublin edition
Chairing the launch, Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald acknowledged the contribution of Irish artist Robert Ballagh in designing the image carried of the front page of the special edition. It depicts a march in front of the GPO during the 1981 Hunger Strike. Mary Lou pointed to the importance of An Phoblacht for the entire republican family before introducing former editor from 1990 to 1996 Mícheál MacDonncha. MacDonncha congratulated the An Phoblacht team on the special edition and identified the particular passion of those who have worked with An Phoblacht over the years:
“We may in the past have been accused of being a bit strident in the paper but I think that comes from is a passionate belief in republicanism, the passionate expression of that and long may we continue to do it”, he said.
Another Dubliner and former editor from 1999 to 2005, Martin Spain commended the calibre of those who worked, most of them on a voluntary basis, for the paper over the decades. He spoke of the professionalism involved in the production of the publication over many years.
He congratulated An Phoblacht editor Seán Mac Brádaigh and the paper’s manager Micheal ‘Dixie’ Dickson on the special Dublin edition and concluded by saying it had been a great honour for him to have worked with An Phoblacht.
Seán Mac Brádaigh congratulated all those who had contributed in one way or another to the production of the special edition and warmly congratulated ‘Dixie’ on his management of the paper; Robert Ballagh for his superb front-page design and Noeleen O’Reilly who he credited with conceiving the idea for the special edition.
“I think Noeleen not only typifies the strong relationship that has existed between republicans in this city and An Phoblacht but she also displays the practical, hard-working, commonsense approach to republican work which, when married to the noble ideals that we all share, can produce great things”, he said.
Mac Brádaigh said that for many years An Phoblacht was primarily about the politics of resistance – getting out the republican message in the face of political censorship and of reporting what was really happening in the Six Counties during the years of armed conflict when the republican voice was virtually extinguished in every other media outlet.
“But An Phoblacht was never solely about resistance. In the darkest of political times it always sought to provide space for analysis, for new ideas within republicanism and to point ways forward for our struggle”, he said.
Importance of An Phoblacht
The main speaker at the launch, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams congratulated the extensive body of people involved in the production and distribution of the paper and in particular the special edition. He also thanked Robert Ballagh for producing the image carried on the front page.
On the importance the republican weekly Adams said: “I believe that people in struggle need to articulate in the written word, explain and put on the record our view of what’s happening. For a radical political publication to have unbroken continuation for 38 years is something quite remarkable.”
Reflecting on the commitment of those who worked for the paper in various ways at great personal risk, he mentioned the van drivers in the North who were very often harassed and threatened by the UDR in particular. To a rousing response Adams pointed to the fact while “the UDR is disbanded the Phoblacht continues”.
He commended the idea of the special Dublin edition an described his own affection for the city of Dublin pointing out the huge republican history of the capital.
“I think we need to lift the lid and liberate the history of Dublin particularly the history of the working class who took on the bosses during the 1913 Lock Out and then went on to organise for the 1916 Rising”, he said.
Adams spoke of the importance of, researching and placing republican analysis on record which is crucial function of An Phoblacht as the republican paper of record.
Presentations of framed print’s of Robert Ballagh’s front-page image were made to sellers Mary and Tony O’Rawe and to Tony O’Flaherty for their outstanding level of weekly An Phoblacht sales over the years. Tony O’Flaherty presentation was accepted in his absence and by Áine Ní Gabhainn.
Gerry Adams was given a special presentation of one of Robert Ballagh’s prints by the artist.
Mary Lou McDonald closed proceedings to the rallying call, “An Phoblacht Abú”.