Saoirse – Irish Freedom is the voice of the Irish Republican Movement. The monthly newspaper of Republican Sinn Féin, it takes its name from Irish Freedom – Saoirse, a Fenian paper which first appeared in November 1910 and continued as a monthly publication until December 1914 when it was suppressed by the British authorities. Among the contributors to that paper were Bulmer Hobson, PS Hegerty, Terence McSwiney, Pádraig Pearse, Ernest Blythe, Piaras Beaslaí, Pat Devlin, Fred Cogley, JW Good and Roger Casement.
Irish Republicans have always attempted to produce a newspaper, as a means of speaking to the people. As revolutionaries we have had to rely on our own resources to counter-act the status quo message promoted by the Establishment media.
More than 200 years ago, on January 4, 1792, the first number of the Northern Star appeared. The paper, produced by the Belfast Society of United Irishmen, promoted unity among Irish people of all religions. It was a popular target for the opponents of Irish unity and freedom. The proprietors of the Northern Star and its printer, John Rabb, were charged with sedition in January, 1793. Its offices were again raided on September 16, 1796 in a general clamp-down on the United Irishmen in Belfast. The presses of the Northern Star were smashed by a pro-British militia on May 19, 1797.
A new paper, The Press, appeared on September 28, 1797.
In a short article in the first issue of The Republic, on December 13, 1906, produced by the Dungannon Clubs, Bulmer Hobson wrote:
“Ireland today claims her place among the free peoples of the earth. She has never surrendered that claim, nor will ever surrender it; and today forces are working in Ireland that will not be still until her claim is acknowledged and her voice heard in the councils of the nations.
To that end The Republic has been started. It has not been brought into existence to make a party among the political parties of Ireland, nor to carry on a party propaganda nor to waste time quarrelling with any political party. It has been started to gather together all that is best and greatest, most progressive and far-seeing in Ireland round the Republican banner and to build up, not a Republican party, but an independent Irish Republic.
We stand for an Irish Republic because we see that no compromise with England, no repeal of the Union, no concession of Home Rule or Devolution will satisfy the national aspiration of the Irish people nor allow the unrestricted mental, moral and material development of our country. National independence is our right; we ask no more and we will accept no less.
An independent Irish Republic, then, is our aim – governed by the whole people of Ireland in the interests of the whole people, without let or hindrance, supervision or interference on the part of any other power under heaven. We owe allegiance to no country save Ireland, and we will yield none to any other.
The old hate and the old bigotry that have kept Catholic and Protestant divided – the old grovelling spirit of Toadyism must be killed and forgotten by the people. The ineffective and outward political movements, Unionist and Nationalist, must be superseded and silenced and, in their place, a national movement, virile and militant, that recognises no creed save that of Irishman, and no party save the nation, must be established.”
Saoirse – Irish Freedom grew out of the split in the Republican Movement in 1986 when a reformist majority at the Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis voted to recognise and, if elected, participate in, the institutions of the 26-County State. (Bearing in mind that Sinn Féin was formed in 1905 with the purpose of denying the British right to rule in Ireland by refusing to participate in British assemblies which exercised that right; and that, following the creation of the British-imposed six and 26 county partition parliaments in the 1920s, Republicans extended that principle to the partition assemblies, the move by Provisional Sinn Féin was such a break from the past as to make it a recognisably different organisation to any preceding organisation called Sinn Féin.) The minority at the Ard-Fheis withdrew and re-organised themselves, maintaining the same constitution of Sinn Féin and advocating the same principle of abstentionism as Sinn Féin in 1905 and carried on the struggle as Republican Sinn Féin.
One of the first priorities of Republican Sinn Féin was to produce a paper. In November, 1986 the first issue of Republican Bulletin appeared to explain the reasons for the split and the progress of the re-organisation. It’s format was A4 with eight pages. Republican Bulletin continued to be produced every month until May 1987 when it was replaced by a new monthly Saoirse – Irish Freedom which was published in the same A4 format. In November 1987, Saoirse began to be produced as an eight-page tabloid. Since then, the paper has continued to grow and is currently produced as a 16-page monthly tabloid.
In June 1996 we published our first issue on the Internet. We have taken advantage of our World Wide Web Saoirse Online format to increase the scope of our service. In addition to the Saoirse newspaper we issue regular news releases on the RSF news site via the Irish Republican Information Service. In 2014 in keeping up with the spirit of constantly developing and improving existing resources a new website was launched, under http://www.saoirse.info with the aim of bringing the republican message to a further audience still.