The 1970 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis: An Analysis

Preface to Online Edition
This pamphlet was originally published ten years ago to mark the fortieth anniversary of the 1969 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis which, because of the exigencies of the time, was actually held in January 1970. This edition has been created using OCR technology to create an exact copy of the original document. The only change made is that the format has been altered from the original A5 format to an A4 format. We hope that this online edition will bring this analysis by the Workers’ Party of the momentous Ard Fheis of January 1970 to a new and wider audience.

The Workers’ Party

The Sinn Féin Aid Fheis that took place in January 1970 was a defining moment in the history of republicanism in Ireland. It made clear that Republicans would not be deflected from the path they had chosen. It demonstrated that they were committed to completing the transition from narrow nationalist militarism to revolutionary socialism; that they had embraced the return to the anti-sectarian egalitarian republicanism of Tone and Connolly; and that Republicans would not be deflected from that path either by the actions of the conservative governments in both states, nor by the forces of conservatism within the Republican Movement itself. The Ard Fheis of January 1970 was a landmark in the development of The Workers’ Party, and of modern Ireland.

This short pamphlet, part of a longer and more detailed work yet to be published, analyses developments within the Republican Movement from the immediate aftermath of the outbreak of the Troubles in August 1969 to the Ard Fheis of January 1970. It describes the origins of the tensions within Republicanism that came to a head in the period after August 1969. It outlines the attempts of Fianna Fáil to reverse the advance of progressive politics not just within the Republican Movement, but also within the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association and the broader civil rights movement.

It describes Fianna Fáil’s two-part plan for ending the threat posed by the Republican Movement. The first part of the plan was to split the Republican Movement in alliance with conservative and sectarian elements attached to it, who had failed to divert the Republican Movement down the cul-de-sac of sectarian militarism. The second part of the plan was to take over the civil rights movement, in which the Republican Movement played the leading role. The pamphlet reminds us that the Republican Movement continued to promote democratic, socialist and secular politics across the island despite the pressures placed on it by events in the North. It continued to educate, agitate and organise for the unity of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter and the establishment of the Socialist Republic.

Research Section
The Workers’ Party
January 2010.