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'An Alien Ideology'Cold War Perceptions of the Irish Republican Left$
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John Mulqueen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620641

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620641.001.0001

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‘A Party of the Extreme Left’

‘A Party of the Extreme Left’

Official republicans drop traditional demands in favour of class politics, urge Soviet bloc not to back Provisionals’ H-Block campaign

(p.169) 6 ‘A Party of the Extreme Left’
'An Alien Ideology'

John Mulqueen


The Irish minister for justice, Patrick Cooney, in 1976 identified two threats to the state: the ‘Sino-Hibernian’ Official republican movement and the Provisional IRA. ‘Harsh laws’ to counter subversion would be widely welcomed, he claimed. The Official movement’s leadership now openly endorsed the Soviets’ agenda. This chapter focuses on the Official IRA’s determination to build a political party that stayed close to the Soviet Union but opposed its support for the Provisionals’ ‘prison war’ – the campaign to restore ‘political status’ for newly-convicted paramilitary prisoners. Now advocating ‘peace, work and class politics’ as the solution to the northern crisis, the Official movement’s political creation, Sinn Féin The Workers’ Party (SFWP), abandoned the traditional left-wing republican ‘anti-imperialist’ position. Ironically, this involved the party analysing the situation in the north along the same lines as the British prime minister, Margaret Thatcher.

Keywords:   Patrick Cooney, Soviet bloc, ‘class politics’, students, ‘prison war’, ‘political status’, Margaret Thatcher

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