IN your introduction to our forthcoming history pamphlet, ‘The Road to 1969, the Republican Movement’, which we hope to publish in the coming weeks, the August 13 edition of the Andersonstown News referred to our small group as ‘A history team from the Workers’ Party’ – this is not strictly correct.
Our group includes people who would have been active in the Provisionals, but most are active in the Workers’ Party. All of them feel the time is now right to remember the dedication and sacrifice that was made by the Republican Movement from 1962 to 1969 but which was never recorded or acknowledged.
These were the most difficult and challenging times as republicans sought to keep the movement together while its direction, tactics and internal politics were developing. Our pamphlet will illustrate our belief that the struggle for democracy drew clear connections between republicans’ strategy and civil rights. The emphasis on political activity gave clarity about where the responsibility for social injustice in the North rested.
A lack of such clarity led sectarian elements down blind alleys. The most important in this regard was the concentration by the Provisionals on abolishing Stormont rather than on forcing the British government to intervene and redress political grievances over the heads of the Stormont administration.
We believe there was a politically competent and credible republican leadership which had formulated and expressed republican and progressive demands in a way that united the working class around civil rights demands. By 1969 key elements of the republican strategy had been achieved. The RUC were disarmed, the B Specials abolished, electoral reform gave all citizens the vote and the Housing Executive was established. The equality agenda was being pursed with vigour by the republican leadership.
Our pamphlet will pay tribute to 15-year-old Gerald McAuley, as well as all the other republicans who gave their lives defending democracy and civil rights during this period.
We thank the Andersonstown News for their interest and hope this clarification will suffice to those who were excluded because of publishing timelines.
Robert Mateer, Republican History Group, Belfast
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