‘Do you know that An Phoblacht, the Sinn Féin paper, is the longest
published political newspaper in Ireland?’
Your man was thumbing his way through the newly launched new look, monthly
‘In the new media age it is a struggle for print publications to survive
but republicans have always had to do that’ he continued.
‘Peadar O Donnell and Liam Mellowes kept the paper going in their time
during the great counter revolution.’
I looked at him over my glasses. Its not often your man gets preachy at
me. Well not about politics anyway. About every other thing. He is more
sleekit than preachy about politics.Especially my politics. He calls it
the moral high ground.
‘Younger people get their scéal on the internet’ I replied. ‘Nowadays the
internet and worldwide web is commonplace and there’s a new Blackberry,
iPhone or iPad produced almost every few months’.
‘I know’ he said. ‘ But through the seventies, Daithi, Deasún Breatnach,
Eamonn Mc Thomais kept the paper going. Hard work!’
‘Print newspapers have to change to meet new communication modes with this
and An Phoblacht, is no different’ I responded. ‘We have to avail of
advancements in electronic communications. There is now a brand new
website(aprnonline.com) which is still in its early days of development
but provides ‘Breaking News’ items as well as being on Facebook and
Twitter. It will carry videos and is working on other aspects that will
interest readers and web surfers’.
‘Well I prefer to have the paper in my hand’, he snorted. An Phoblacht
is the voice of Irish republicanism and that voice still needs to be
heard. When I think of the work Rita O Hare, Dawn, Bangers, Micheál MacDonnacha and Sean MacBradaigh and all the rest of them did in hard times.’
‘Ach com’n on’ I retorted ‘The new format has more pages (32) and more
colour. It can cover issues in more depth than before. It can attract
Your man put the paper down and listened quietly.
“Things have moved on from the days when An Phoblacht was really the only
outlet in Ireland, North or South, where you could hear the republican
message. Or when the main work of many activists was to sell the paper’.
“I agree,’ he said ‘But we still need our own paper. And we need to sell
it. That’s important work. Our paper needs the ability to delve deeper
into the issues that affect Irish society. Republicans also still want a
platform for ideas, discussions and debate. An Phoblacht has provided such
a platform but we need to build and strengthen that; we need to make it
more widely used and known. While overt state censorship of Sinn Féin is
long gone, there is an incredibly distorted and biased coverage of
republican politics in the establishment media. This means that it is just
as important as it ever was that we have our own means of getting the
republican message out, unmediated and direct.’
He stopped to draw breath.
‘Why are you telling me all this’ I asked. ‘We’re supposed to be on our
“Real activists don’t take holidays. We regroup’ he muttered. I meant to
tell you. I have been asked to promote the paper in our area.’
‘Haha’, I grinned ‘fair play to you.’
‘In its new format, An Phoblacht aims to meet the challenges of the modern
political media environment and not just survive but grow. I believe that
with the active support of republicans throughout Ireland we can do that.”
‘And that’s the nub of the issue. An Phoblacht costs just £2 or €2 every
month and that’s an investment in not just maintaining but strengthening
the republican voice, providing the paper with the wherewithal to look
into those nooks and crannies in society from a progressive perspective
and to offer an alternative platform to the Establishment view’.
What do you think of this for a selling point?’ he asked. ‘If you used to
read An Phoblacht, I’m asking you to pick it up again or subscribe to it
online. And if you’re inclined to, offer to write for it too. As the
United Irishmen said: “It is new strung and shall be heard.”
‘Strum,strum strum’ I said. ‘Now can we go for something to eat? The rain
seems to have stopped.’
‘It never rains in the pub,’ he said ‘And I could pick up some customers’.
‘Ok. Whats the website again’