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An Phoblacht (Irish for "The Republic") is the official newspaper of Sinn Féin in Ireland. It is published once a week, and according to its website sells an average of up to 15,000 copies every week and was the first Irish paper to provide an edition online and currently having in excess of 100,000 website hits per week.[1] Following the split in the Republican Movement in January 1970, one of the urgent tasks facing their leadership was producing a new republican newspaper. The first issue of the monthly paper, An Phoblacht, under the editorship of Seán Ó Brádaigh, appeared on 31 January 1970.

Contents

Background

The original An Phoblacht was founded as the official organ of the Dungannon Clubs in Belfast in 1906 and its first edition was printed on 13 December 1906 under the English language version of the title The Republic. In the first edition, Bulmer Hobson, one of the founders of the Dungannon Clubs, set out their aims:

"Ireland today claims her place among the free peoples of the Earth. She has never surrendered that claim, nor will ever she surrender it, and today forces are working in Ireland that will not be still until her claim is acknowledged and her voice heard in the councils of the nations."

A year later the paper merged with a Dublin title called The Peasant, however the title An Phoblacht was again used from 1925 and continued until 1937 with a tumultuous history of internal splits and constant state oppression. Frank Ryan, Seán MacBride and Peadar O'Donnell were just some of the prominent contributors during this time.

The title appeared again in 1966 as the mouthpiece of a small IRA splinter group based in Cork.[2] Its modern version was again refounded immediately following the Sinn FĂ©in split by Jimmy Steele in January 1970, An Phoblacht supporting the group led by RuaĂ­rĂ­ O'Bradaigh that became the Provisional IRA when the split with the Official Irish Republican Army occurred.

In 1970, An Phoblacht was at first circulated only in the South with another republican paper also established in Northern Ireland in 1970, Republican News, under the editorship of veteran republican Jimmy Steel. It supported the campaign of the Provisional Irish Republican Army and published a weekly column titled "War News", which outlined IRA actions and conflict with the British Army, and provided in depth analysis of the policies being formulated by the Republican Movement. An Phoblacht began with a circulation of 20,000 per month.

Located at 2a Lower Kevin Street in Dublin’s south inner city, it moved to the northside of the capital, to Kevin Barry House, 44 Parnell Square, in August 1972. And in that October it became a fortnightly publication under the editorship of Éamonn MacThomáis, a writer and historian[3] who instituted changes in layout and general improvements so that it became a weekly publication. After 1976, the then Minister for Post and Telecommunications, Conor Cruise O'Brien, a Labour Party minister in the Fine Gael/Labour coalition, strengthenedJack Lynch’s original 1971 Section 31 censorship directive banning members of the IRA or its political wing Sinn Féin from the airwaves. However this ban did not extend to the print media.

Section 31 produced a climate where many career journalists engaged in self-censorship to avoid official opprobrium.

An Phoblacht became more important in disseminating the republican message and highlighting what it saw as the naked state oppression by the Unionist Party and the Royal Ulster Constabulary in Northern Ireland. It consequently suffered regular Garda Special Branch harassment. Mac Thomáis was arrested and charged with IRA membership and sentenced to 15 months’ imprisonment having been found guilty of the offence. The paper continued under the stewardship of Dublin journalist Deasún Breathnach until Mac Thomáis resumed duties on his release in July 1974. Within two months, Mac Thomáis was again arrested and sentenced to another 15 months. Another editor, Coleman Moynihan, who had succeeded Seán Ó Brádaigh in 1972, suffered a similar fate.

The paper continued on with the succeeding editors being Gerry Danaher (1974-75), Gerry O’Hare (1975-77), and Deasún Breathnach (1977-79).

It had become clear that a single paper for the whole of Ireland was required to provide a clear and coherent line from the leadership and to counter any partitionist thinking which might flow from the British division of Ireland. Accordingly, on 27 January 1979, the first issue of the merged publications, under the banner of An Phoblacht/Republican News, appeared under the editorship of Danny Morrison.

The paper focuses on providing a weekly commentary on all aspects of Irish politics, and currently it articulates the political position of Sinn FĂ©in and supports the peace process.

The paper was officially relaunched in September 2005 as An Phoblacht. The current editor is Seán Mac Brádaigh.

First incarnation

Notable contributors

See also

External links

References

  1. ^ An Phoblacht: About Us History of background of An Phoblacht
  2. ^ Public Record Office of Northern Ireland Minister of Home Affairs file HA 32/2/13 - "Sinn Fein and Republican Clubs 1958-68"
  3. ^ Republican who loved his 'darlin' Dublin', The Irish Times (24 August 2002).
  4. ^ Peace Process in Very Serious Difficulty — article by Gerry Adams in An Phoblacht, 2 November 1995
  5. ^ "In the H-Blocks Bobby began writing short stories and poems under the pen-name 'Marcella', his sister’s name, which were published in...the newly merged 'An Phoblacht/Republican News'" Extracts from 'Prison Poems' by Bobby Sands (1991)
  6. ^ An Phoblacht: About Us — An Phoblacht website, retrieved 25 November 2006.
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