Ruairi O Bradaigh letter to Irish Times re 1969/70 split

Divided views on republican split

The Irish Times, 28 May 2012
A  chara,

I write in reply to Pádraig Yeates’s letter (May 9th) concerning the events of more than 40 years ago.

The Irish Press of January 29th, 1971 (Book Review page) carried an extensive review by me of Dr J Bowyer Bell’s The Secret Army: A History of the IRA 1916-1970. In it I dealt with the army convention of 1969 and Sinn Féin ard-fheis of 1970.

The voting figures given show that the “decision” at the convention was not a valid one. These figures given by me lacked a two-thirds majority and were never challenged from any source then or since. I quote once more: “The voting at the army convention of December 1969 is given [in Dr Bell’s book] as 39-12 in favour of recognising Westminster, Stormont and Leinster House, while those who were there know that it was 28-12 with four ‘anti’ delegates left behind at a pick-up point and highly-inflated representation from Tyrone (five).

“Belfast, the largest and most important unit of all, was not represented in any shape or form since it had withdrawn allegiance from GHQ in September.

“This latter fact eluded Bell altogether, but then it did not appear in the official Republican journal. Belfast representation would, of course, have more than bridged the gap between the Yesses and Nos.

“On the Sinn Féin ard-fheis of January, 1970, he is closer to the mark. The voting here was 153-104, failing the two-thirds majority by 19.

“The 40 per cent minority of delegates withdrew and continued the ard-fheis elsewhere when a resolution needing a simple majority only was forced. It called for support and allegiance to the Goulding IRA and Bell comments: ‘Quite accurately this minority pointed out that a majority resolution would be unconstitutional’.

“The Goulding group had already recognised the three parliaments but the Sinn Féin constitution stigmatises such a course of action as ‘an act of treachery’. Therefore, those voting for the resolution forfeited membership of Sinn Féin.”

Neither Pádraig Yeates or anybody else contested the accuracy of these figures for more than 40 years. Why do so now? Is it an attempt to re-write history?

Yours, etc,
Republican Sinn Féin,
Parnell Street,
Dublin 1.

Further reading: way back in 1997 I did an interview with Ruairi; it can be read here.




Posted on May 29, 2012, in General revolutionary history, Provos - then and now, Republicanism 1960s, Revolutionary figures. Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Ruairi O Bradaigh letter to Irish Times re 1969/70 split.

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