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19 July 2001 Edition

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Camlough remembers `81

``Beidh an bua againn go fóill''
By Tommy Lynch and Pat McGinn
Stg£5
Available from Sinn Féin, 4 Maryville, Camlough, Newry, County Down

This booklet is a valuable and worthwhile collection of reminiscences that would otherwise have been lost, setting the 1981 hunger strike in its cultural and historical context. It deals with the British attempt to criminalise our struggle and break our POWs.

This has all been covered elsewhere but what makes this booklet special is the personal memories of 1981 included in this publication. Without the work of the authors, these stories would have been lost to all of us.

There is the tale of the lad in the Irish merchant navy whose ship docked in Tripoli, Libya, shortly after Kieran Doherty had died:

``That evening, along with a guy from Youghal called White, and armed with a bucket of the Bos'un's finest green rubberised paint, we headed for the [British] embassy. After vaulting over a small wall, with hearts pounding, we wrote, very quickly: SMASH H BLOCKS on the inner wall. Once finished, we hurried back to the ship before some of her majesty's finest spotted our handiwork.

``We sailed for Spain next morning. However when we returned two weeks later our Libyan discharge engineer told me our slogan had made the news because the Brits had made a protest to the Libyans about `locals' putting graffiti on their embassy. When the engineer told me the story had been carried on TV I smiled, pleased in the belief we had in some small way internationalised the hunger strikers' cause.''

There are also the painful memories of Sean Ó Chonghaile, who shared a cell with Tom McIlwee and Conor Murphy's recollections of his role as a young activist during the hunger strike.

As I have written in this paper often - history recorded is a weapon. This is people's history, for surely it was a people's war. Ray McCreesh's words for all of us as he died in Long Kesh were ``keep on marching''.

The last page is blank, save for the statement at the top - ``History in the making...''

Buy it.

BY MICK DERRIG

What is republicanism?



The Republic No.2 Spring/Summer 2001
A Journal of Contemporary & Historical Debate
The Common Good - Republicanism in Theory and Practice
Institiúid na hÉireann


A very interesting journal, a collection of reflections on republicanism through the ages, was launched last week at the Pearse Family Home. The joint editors, Aengus Ó Snodaigh and Finbar Cullen, have gathered a wide selection of writings, some very entertaining, other highly provocative, but all suggestive of ideas of republicanism from Aristotle to today.

``No reader is going to agree with all of the articles; very few are going to agree with everything in any one of them,'' as the editorial says, but then that is the essence of debate, which at last, thanks not least to this journal, is beginning. The debate, in this the second issue of the Ireland Insitute's journal, is about the very meaning of what republicans have claimed down through the centuries to have been fighting for - the Republic.

And not, it appears, just since those heady days of Wolfe Tone. A witty and very enjoyable article about republican adventurers back in 1627, and their sojourns between Brussels and Madrid, via the odd marriage bed, penned by the late Cardinal Ó Fiach, a noted historian, is reprinted here.

Ideas jump out at you from the page:

• ``Republicanism is an event, not a political theory or an ideology. It's a class sytem based on a hierarchy of those who exemplify virte, civic virtue, where true citizenship refers to much more than exercising a democratic right to participate in elections.''

• ``It's the only alternative around to Anglo-American neo-liberalism.''

• ``Republicanism is a language not a programme, where the vocabulary has been one of protest, of resistance to tyrants, and of rooting out corruption and instilling (and installing) civic virtue.''

``Republicanism proposes citizenship as the antidote to the tendencies toward atomisation of society and alienation of the individual generated by capitalist economics and bourgeois society,'' writes James Livesy, which inexorably draws republicanism into its paradox, when the demand for a citizenry meets up with the demand for bread, as it did at the time of Robespierre.

In an almost idolatrous article on Tone, Thomas Bartlett quotes founder father of American Republicanism, John Adams' confession in 1807 that he had never understood what a republic was and ``no man ever did or ever will''. But it is no harm to try.

This journal is teeming with history and argument. It is undoubtedly worth a read, especally should you share the editors' view that ``it is time to put anti-intellectualism behind us and for ideas and theory to flourish in Ireland''.

The very existence of this journal is proof positive that the stereotypes, the rigidities, the inaninities, the immense harm of the blinkered thinking that characterises revisionism is at last starting to face its long overdue challenge. The debate is open, the straitjacket of Dublin 4 political correctness has unravelled. As the development of the Peace Process works its way forward, republicans need to engage in rewriting the ideology that informs and accompanies the progress of the history of our struggle for the Republic - whatever that is.

BY ROISIN DE ROSA

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland