Dissidents need to band together: United front can take on Shinners

John Coulter with a piece that appeared in the Irish Daily Star on 6th August 2012. He offers his take on the announcement of a restructured IRA.

Would the real dissident republicans please stand up?

We now have one set of dissidents copying the old Provos and going in one direction, while other groups appear to be travelling in a totally different direction. 

Initially, the dissidents I interviewed emphasised they wanted to be in separate organisations rather than one big group because they feared being infiltrated by MI5 and the cops. That was the clear message given to me inpublished interviews with Oglaigh na hEireann (ONH), the Real IRA and Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD).

So why have the Real IRA and RAAD along with a few individual ex-Provos teamed up under one banner of ‘The IRA’, leaving ONH and the Continuity IRA out in the cold?  Have the dissidents given up on their ‘hit and run’ sporadic terror campaign and their only way forward is to copy the Provos ’ long war tactic?  Could it be the dissidents are coming together for one last blast of terror before calling it a day and are pooling their resources?

However, the fact the unveiling of this latest combined IRA movement has not been greeted with widespread panic from Dublin or Westminster tends to suggest that the dissident republican family has recognised thefutility of terrorism and is looking for ‘an honourable ceasefire’.

Given the number of years it took to bring the Provisional IRA to states of ceasefire and decommissioning, perhaps Dublin , London and Stormont have realised the generations of time which could pass before all the various dissident factions follow the Provos’ lead. It is clear Dublin and London want to do a deal with a single dissident republican leadership, so get the terror groups to combine first, and then offer a political package. 

In the Republic, Southern Sinn Fein under president Gerry Adams may be leading the political polls as the head buck cats in the anti-austerity movement. But at Stormont, the Shinners are in government with Robbo’s DUP and play a major role in the power-sharing Executive which will have to implement very severe cuts as the UK plunges into a double-dip recession.

When dissidents opposed to the Sinn Fein peace strategy attempted to push a political agenda under the banner of Concerned Republicans, the Shinners wiped the floor with them in elections. But across the North, the recession is biting deep into traditional republican communities and Sinn Fein may not be as popular as its triple Assembly election romp of 2003, 2007 and 2011. 

Is there now a real opportunity for republicans to put up a viable alternative to Sinn Fein in time for the next Stormont poll in 2015?  To do so, dissidents also need a united political front rather than a bagful of wee parties. The Stoops are finished politically and will never return to the glory days of Gerry Fitt or John Hume.

The Erps and Stickies are spent forces, and the fringe 32 County Sovereignty crowd, Eirigi, and Republican Sinn Fein are merely pissing in the wind in terms of political clout. 

Forming a new combined IRA is a step in the right direction for dissidents. If they bring the various terror groups together under one banner, a ceasefire can be more easily negotiated and a new traditional republican party launched to take the Shinners head on at the polls. 

In the meantime, Ireland will have to listen to a lot of terror sabre-rattling from the New IRA, leaving ONH and the Continuity crowd on the fringes in case the dissident ceasefire talks don’t work. 

If the dissidents have run out of names to call their new political movement, they can take my own Democratic Republican Party title – provided they don’t kill or maim anyone


  1. Time will tell exactly why this amalgamation took place,I would be sceptical of Johns theory on this,but one thing is for sure it will simplify any back channel talks,and its more than a fair bet that this is happening,I would reckon those agents of influence will be working overtime,if they are talking peace I wish them well.qsf sold the pass for a paltry sum and this unification of "dissidents could yet become qsf,s nemesis.

  2. Marty,

    I never much thought of it in the terms that John has. It is plausible but like yourself I don't buy it. No doubt the British interest will be to mould a leadership that they can work with. It comes in three stages, a bit like Emily Maitlis describes her interview approach: flirt, seduce, betray. Look at where the Provos ended up.

  3. Anthony perfectly put a cara.

  4. Surely if anything has been learned with the PSF experience, it is that politics is for the free. To attempt politics in a divided and unfree nation will always end in surrender of one kind or another.

    Hopefully the real reason for unity is to attract those Republicans who feel betrayed by the politicking of the Provos.

    The last thing we need is a group of born-again Shinners. We need freedom, not compromise.

  5. Easier to pay one leader than 5 or 6. In a recession makes sense to cut costs.

  6. just brilliant Bradley is more radical than Marty McG

  7. Bradley Wiggins super response..

  8. news report says dissidents recieved a new consignment of 'stuff' from the USA. It's reported to be 'gasolene'.

  9. No idea who Bradley Wiggins is but that was just fantastic. Wish that loathsome twit Piers would stay in England where he belongs.

  10. Bit off topic but I had to share some good news with everyone.


  11. Ryan,

    I have a few links on the same topic to go up but was holding them to the next article on the matter. Bradley Wiggins is the Tour de France winner and also took a gold at the Olympics. It was a brilliant retort.

  12. From Helen McClafferty:

    Remember this? I would like to see Sinn Fein threaten to leave Stormont if Marian Price, Martin Corey and Gerry McGeough are not released immediately. Instead of fussing over the Queen's handshake, they should be in serious negotiations with Owen Paterson to ensure that the illegal internment of Martin Corey, Marian Price, now seriously ill in hospital, and the unjust incarceration of Gerry McGeough on charges dating back over 31 years ago be ended immediately.

    Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson threatens to quit over royal insignia

  13. Helen,
    I spoke with an sinn fein mla today about the plausability of them withdrawing from the executive.
    I was told on no uncertain terms, absolutely not!

    Today we held on of the many events we have held over the festival for Marian.
    While holding an information and leaflet drop outside the Felons club I had the opportunity to speak with Pat Sheehan MLA.

    Pat maintained, sinn fein are workingly tirelessly for Marian, Martin Corey and Gerry Mc Geough.
    However, that tireless work will not extend to bringing down the institutions, 'they had built up'
    Nor indeed Pat resigning his place on the policing board.
    When I reminded him, that Alex Maskey was threatening to pull the plug for a lot less, he apparently could not remember.

  14. Gerry McGeough Welcomes Statement from Sinn Féin Minister Michelle O’Neill.

    Gerry McGeough has welcomed the strong statement of support from Sinn Féin Minister Michelle O’Neill at the National Hunger Strike Commemoration in Dungiven calling for his immediate release and that of Martin Corey and Marian Price.

    Over the past number of weeks, several political delegations have visited Gerry in Maghaberry prison, including a number of Fianna Fail Senators led by Eamon O’Cuiv TD. Prior to this he has received several visits from SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey and the most recent visit by a Sinn Féin delegation included MLA’s Barry McElduff, Raymond McCartney and Sean Lynch.

    Michelle O’Neill is correct when she states “It is anyone’s right to disagree with Sinn Féin”. The British Government however denied Gerry McGeough the right to disagree with Sinn Féin. He stood in an election against Sinn Féin and they locked him up in Maghaberry. Martin Corey has been denied his right to freedom, but nobody knows why because it’s a secret. Marian Price held a piece of paper and has been interned without trial for over 450 days because the British Government ‘lost’ a piece of paper. Gary MacAdam attended a funeral and on his way back home found himself dragged off to Maghaberry. And there are others. One by one they are taken away.

  15. The madness of unionist entrenched thought use republicans to do the unions dirty work. It would benefit republicanism if dissidents could find common ground to build a unified peaceful political party but not with an agenda of weakening Sinn Fein, that delusional purpose only serves to strengthen the union. Revenge is hardly a reasonable incentive to join the political arena and is insulting to republicanism as it suggests dissidents have nothing to offer but revenge against Sinn Fein not to mention their role would be pro-union under John’s theory. A political party is the only sensible way forward for dissidents. Like much easier said than done given the disarray of dissidents in the short term highly unlikely as dissident support may just view a new party as Sinn Fein part two though in retrospect the idea of PIRA surrendering was in most minds never on the table so in essence there is always hope.

  16. Gerry,
    Sinn Fein's public and private faces are two very different things.
    Of they are calling for the release of prisoners being detained on ambigious and precarious charges, they could hardly say, 'keep them in'
    They more so than the brits have ensured that all dissent is quashed, silenced, removed.

    Sinn Fein are part and parcel of the status quo. Pat Sheehan informed me that, 'he goes to work each day to further the reunification of the country'
    If he believes that and actually believes they work tirelessly for release of prisoners.
    What hope have we? Nothing could be further from the truth.
    It has to be likened to a butcher claiming to be an advocate of animal rights.

  17. Nuala,

    it is so disappointing to see Pat talking such bollix. But he has learned the talk. The more tirelessly he has to work the more he demonstrates the powerlessness of SF. How are they here?

  18. Just curious.
    When the Provos split from the Offcials in 1969 did the continually canvass the 'sticks' politically?

  19. Mackers,
    According to Pat, Sinn Fein do not have any political power, none!
    Which kind of begs the question about their so called mandate, when a mla claims they have no real power.

  20. Nuala,

    it is sad, given Pat's stand in the jail, to be standing there sounding exactly like the rest of them.

  21. Mackers,
    They all have an air of arrogance. It would be more tolerable if they had a degree of humility but they don't.
    It's insane, they have built small empires on the backs of a struggle.
    Some of them, well some here in Clonard have set up family dynasties and yet they swagger about as if they are still serving the people.
    Arrogant, hypocrites who have absolutely no shame.

  22. Nuala,

    ‘They all have an air of arrogance. It would be more tolerable if they had a degree of humility but they don't.’

    And would beat you for pointing to some of the more inconsistent aspects of their stance.

    The empires are something a lot of people have pointed to. Big Juice sometime before he died told me it was all about money now.

    ‘yet they swagger about as if they are still serving the people.’

    I think the same people know just how far they have travelled in their own journey of abandonment.

  23. All concerned parties ie gerry,marian, martin etc should come togther and make a public statement calling on all shinner reps to walk out of stormont by a certian date if the interned arnt released.Because all this crap talk of were doing this and that is getting very tiresome and is not helping any of the above campaigns which it is more that likely intended to do.A line needs to be drawn with these people ie yous are with the prisoners or yous are with the the people whos banging them up.Then and only then can the republican people of Belfast and the rest of the country push these campaigns on as one united people and leave the quisling party were they belong in the past.

  24. AM.

    took me over 40 goes to post on Ardoyne Republican, maybe i should have gone to specsavers, But I Just Proved I was Not A Robot.


    That' something the Shinner's will never do, they are in their own little British Establishment, being used as puppets, yet, they really believe they are on the road to a United Ireland, They have forgotten about the working class people who put them there, they are only interested in their own political and financial gains, They have lost the plot, They are, "The ones who sold us all out"

    But, If all Interned Republicans , made one letter, ie, The Same, and signed it, Asking that of the Shinners , that would be a major step forward, it would be published in every daily newspaper, thus putting the Shinners on the pedastal.

  25. Larry.

    "news report says dissidents recieved a new consignment of 'stuff' from the USA. It's reported to be 'gasolene'.".

    Its a special type though , It contains sugar!