Mosquito Press to the mainstream and back again: media transformations in the Irish Republican sphere

Patrick Hoey (Liverpool Hope University, UK)

From the genesis of the modern Irish republican movement in the early years of the twentieth century, small circulation newspapers and pamphlets were crucial to the dissemination of information and policy. Saoirse-Irish Freedom, An Phoblacht, Republican Congress, Republican Review and Wolfe Tone Weekly were among the publications which laid the blueprint for papers which would follow in the late twentieth century. In effect these papers, initially dubbed the Mosquito Press, helped create and sustain a highly politicised public sphere which drew on politics far beyond the narrow confines of traditional Catholic nationalism. Throughout the Troubles, newspapers often celebrating those of the early twentieth century were produced to serve geographic and demographically specific spaces. They served as information-providers and debating spaces for Republican groups largely excluded from the media sphere thanks to broadcasting bans as well as political expediency in the production of mainstream news. While An Phoblacht became the pre-eminent voice of Republican politics, it was the Andersonstown News (which began life as a four page freesheet) which became much more powerful as a high-selling weekly with its own stable of papers. Its route from the margins to the mainstream mirrored that of Sinn Fein and seemed complete when it launched the Daily Ireland in 2005. But 18 months later the Daily Ireland had closed amid criticisms of narrow-minded news coverage and prohibitively small circulation figures, while sales of An Phoblacht were also reported to have plummeted. In the meantime the development of new technologies had seen the rebirth of a number of newspapers questioning the leadership of Sinn Fein and a multitude of websites and blogs devoted to a similar purpose. In short a Republican sphere which had become classically feudalised had been reborn.

Timing - Friday - Panel Session B1



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