Friday, August 20, 2010

An Phoblacht Abú

‘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( 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
new readers.’

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.”
He exclaimed.

‘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’



Timothy Dougherty said...

good day Gerry,

It never rains in the pubs, hum..yes, a true statement that never makes news, almost never.
Other facts of nature is to take the moral hight grounds, during social change. The truth is real, that Republicans need and want a
platform for ideas, discussions and debate in all types of media.
It is ture that Print Media is now on the end runs, of the new communication modes. I was in contact with Hugh Hefner ,on that subject and Hef said that Playboy with someday only be online, that would be a social change. An Phoblacht advancements in electronic communications is more in tune the the facts of life.
Was reading "The English Bill of Rights, 1689" Author:British Parliament Published: 1689 you can download the book for free online. interesting reading , than in the end information comes in many kinds of ways, all good.

Micheal said...

I think, as he said, that delving deeper into the issues is jounalism at it's best, but it seems to happen less and less because of the speed that the media circus goes around at.

When journalist's do get hold of something and don't let go- like the expenses scandal for example- then something concrete can be achieved.

The new monthly "An Phoblacht" has created the space to go into the deeper analysis of Irish society and why it is the way it is.

The Sinn Fein TD's in Leinster House have exposed corruption and the lies of other TD's, but it hasn't been reported that way in the media. But everyone in and around the establishment knows that it is Sinn Fein that is routing out corruption in Irish politics.

That's one of the reasons why the media and the establishment sought to exclude Sinn Fein for so long, because they weren't part of the tacit agreement to cover up the plunder and profligacy.

Section 31 may be gone, but what I found with the Irish media was that they then went on to ignore Sinn Fein completely unless they could find a negative angle on which to run a story.

Now they're looking towards a new bonhomie in order to pacify the Sinn Fein attack on free state corruption.

James and Linda said...

This comment made me laugh: "Real activists don’t take holidays. We regroup." That's the truth. When I head out for a vacation, the first thing I wanted to know about our accommodations is "Do they have WIFI internet access?" 'Cause I have to keep up with the news.

An Phoblacht is a great news source, whether on paper or on the web. I find out a lot of stuff from AP that's not printed in the U.S.; for instance, the first time I heard of genetically modified organisms and terminal seeds was in An Phoblacht, and it was a year or two before the topic was widely covered in the U.S.

Keep up the great work, AP, and best wishes to all activists for relaxing summer holidays, or regrouping, or whatever.

Micheal said...

The presentation of the new look An Phoblacht is very good and the dimensions of the hard copy are ideal. It could compete with the national daily's/weekly's.

The consumer is looking to buy into a pleasant experience and a sense of belonging to a collective. Therefore, papers like the Irish times' criticism of the government is always counter hegemonic. It's subscribing collective then can claim a sense of "keeping their government on it's toes" without upsetting the status quo. It's a wonderful life and the gloves stay on.

An Phoblacht is anti-hegemonic from cover to cover and this is only for the committed and motivated subscriber who will accept the pain of conflict as a nessessary function of achievement.

We feel the guilt of hunger strike survival like the hunger strikers felt the guilt of famine survival and we want to sacrafice something of ourselves for the Sinn fein cause. And everyone who sat in the pews at mass every Sunday as a child will ultimately know why.

I think that for An Phoblacht to expand it's hard copy distribution into numbers sufficient to support Sinn Fein government in the South the anti-hegomic current should be contained within the paper and not appear so dominant.

Feelgood stories, cartoons, crosswords and a wider range of interviews from accross the political and social spectrum can help to achieve this.

Penultimately we want to enjoy the challenge and the journey toward meeting our political objectives and An Phoblacht is uniquely placed in order to provide this.

The people generally live hard conflicted lives. They look for escapism and the avoidance of conflict. The arts can disect conflict in a way which avoids the reactionary initial rejection and allow people to glimpse an understanding of the issues involved in the oppression. I think this is the challenge for the editor and staff of the new look "An Phoblacht".

James and Linda said...

One more quick story about An Phoblacht before I go to "regroup".

One time when I was in Dublin, I was headed back to the States on a Thursday, which is the day AP comes out (I think I'm remembering the day right).

So Thursday (or whatever) morning before catching the bus to the airport, I went to the AP office and knocked on the door. A woman answered, and I explained that I wanted to buy a paper before I left for the States. At first, she said they weren't ready to be delivered yet, and I said, "Oh, okay," and was about to walk away, but she called me back.

"Wait a minute," she said, and disappeared for a minute or so. She came back with a paper--no charge!

(Somewhere among my many photos, I have a picture my husband took of me outside the door of An Phoblacht with the biggest grin on my face, holding up a paper! lol!)

Cairde na hÉireann said...

An Phoblacht is available in Scotland at Cairde na hÉireann, 260 Gallowgate Glasgow

0141 552 8554