Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

Honesty: The Stinging Fly on the Rump of Free State Respectability

Academic journal article Estudios Irlandeses - Journal of Irish Studies

Honesty: The Stinging Fly on the Rump of Free State Respectability

Article excerpt

Abstract. This essay will examine the expose of the realities regarding poverty, immorality and sexual crime in the Irish Free State by the radical journal Honesty (1925-1931). Honesty was edited by the socialist republican James W. Upton, a man with a longstanding commitment to the rights of women and the poor. Upton was by instinct anti-establishment in an era when the country's religio-political leadership was insecure and keen to manage the Free State's news agenda. Something they attempted in the service of projecting what was viewed as an ideologically acceptable image of life in the Free Sate, to both domestic and foreign audiences. Upton viewed this policy as a manifestation of the social and political cant favoured by the Free State's leadership, which was aided and abetted by, and gave succour to, the hypocrisy of wider bourgeois Free State society. A coalition of forces, Upton reasoned, that damaged the interests of the most vulnerable sections of Irish society, in particular, the nation's women and children living on or below the breadline. However, notwithstanding it radicalism and reputation in the Free State, Honesty has been largely lost to the history of Irish journalism.

Key Words. Irish Free State, Prostitution, Journalism, Sexual Crime, Women, Illegitimacy, Child Abuse, Poverty.

Resumen. En este trabajo se examina como la revista Honesty (1925-1931) desvelo las verdades incomodas sobre pobreza, inmoralidad y delitos sexuales en los primeros anos del Estado Libre de Irlanda. El editor de la revista, James W. Upton, era un republicano de ideologia socialista en cuya trayectoria destacaba un firme compromiso con los derechos de las mujeres y de los menos favorecidos. Upton era por instinto antisistema, en una epoca en la que el liderazgo del pais adolecia de serias deficiencias. La clase dirigente mostraba un desmedido interes por controlar las noticias relacionadas con Irlanda y por proyectar, tanto a nivel nacional como internacional, imagenes amables y positivas sobre el nuevo estado. Para Upton, esta actitud no era sino una muestra mas de la hipocresia reinante entre las elites del Estado Libre de Irlanda, las cuales encontraban un necesario apoyo entre un amplio sector de la burguesia. Para Upton, esta coalition de fuerzas actuaba en detrimento de los sectores mas debiles de la sociedad, especialmente aquellos que vivian por debajo del umbral de la pobreza. A pesar de su actitud critica con el poder y de la importante repercusion que tuvo en su epoca, Honesty apenas es tenida en cuenta en la historia del periodismo en Irlanda.

Palabras clave. Estado Libre de Irlanda, prostitution, periodismo, delitos sexuales, mujeres, hijos ilegitimos, abusos a menores, pobreza.

On the 28th of February 1925 the journal Honesty. A Weekly Journal of Independent Criticism commenced publishing and was to continue publication until the 28th of February 1931. Edited by the socialist-republican, James W. Upton, the journal claimed lineage from a pre-Easter Rising publication of the same name, which had published from the October of 1915 to the 25 April 1916.

Upton's republican credentials were immaculate. A friend and commrade of many leading republicans of the day, he was in possession of what Eithne MacDermott described as "the ultimate legitimising symbol in the republican gallery of iconography" (1998: 1), having taken part in the Easter Rising of 1916. This afforded Upton with a significant store of social and political capital which he was to deploy in the service of the marginalised, up until the point that Honesty was forced to close. Honesty's closure resulted from the undermining of its readership by his old commrade, Eamon de Valera's Fianna Fail party machine, when Upton and Honesty were percieved as threatening de Valera's political ambition (Keating 2015: 92).

Upton was born in Waterford in 1872 and came under the influence of the Fenian James O'Connor whilst a student at Mount Sion Christian Brothers school, where he also developed a lifelong passion for Gaelic Games. …

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