The Blanket

Karen Lyden Cox


Republican Voices,edited by Kevin Bean and Mark Hayes, was released to the public on the evening of Sunday, 12 August 2001, at An Cultúrlann in West Belfast. Several of the contributors - Tommy Gorman, Anthony McIntyre, and Tommy McKearney - were in attendance at the launch to read some of their own selected passages from the book, and to answer questions put forth by members of the audience.

Republican Voices is a collection of personal reflections and analyses written by these republicans and their fellow contributors: Brendan Hughes, Eamonn McDermott, and Mickey McMullen (forward by Bernadette McAliskey). The book was compiled for the purpose of giving voice to their unique experiences in republican history, as well as to examine the current stagnation in the struggle and to provide present and future generations with an antidote for ongoing historical revisionism:

“As contemporary historians and political analysts we are aware that the politicians’ bland ‘single transferable speech’, the controlled thought of party newspapers and the anodyne platitudes of the carefully edited autobiography do not always make for the most revealing or useful of historical resources. We hope that these interviews will begin to provide a better source of historical raw material and reveal some of the jagged edges and harsher realities that underlay the smoothness and sheen of public discourse.” (p. 18)

The evening included the surprise announcement from Tommy McKearney and John McAnulty that they would raise the questions: "Is republicanism still relevant?" and "Is republicanism socialism?" with time allowed for contributions and questions from the floor. (Mr. McAnulty was not a contributor to the book. He has been active in Socialist Democracy for many years.) The commentary of these two men was devoted to circuitous semantic exploration, the re-definition of old dogma, and a call for mass movement.

Several members of the audience offered thoughtful and probing statements that unfortunately were not generously addressed by the two-man panel. In spite of that, the diverse audience demonstrated the steadfast unwillingness of some members of the community to be satisfied with the regurgitation of stalling dogmatic rhetoric, or with the political panhandling which is commandeering the republican movement at present. They voiced the desire to use their understanding and energies to develop a forward-looking long-term vision, as well as to implement short-term participatory constructs for Irish republicans.





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