Sinn Fein Ignores the Dissidents at their Peril.

Guest writer radical unionist commentator Dr John Coulter, former a columnist with The Blanket, with an exclusive offering for The Pensive Quill. Here he ponders if Sinn Fein can politically allow the dissidents of the New IRA to develop like the former Provos.

The fall-out from the murder of leading north Dublin Real IRA boss Alan Ryan could be to re-launch the dissident republican movement in the South. To prevent this becoming a political reality, Sinn Fein will need to join the legions of commentators trying to present Ryan’s killing as part of the gangland war between criminal elements.

But chatting to an Oglaigh na hEireann source in the immediate aftermath of the Ryan killing, I got the distinct impression that those who did not share the Sinn Fein peace process agenda could use his death to their own political advantage.  The ONH source said Ryan had left behind “a tight knit group in north Dublin”. He had known Ryan since he was 17 when Ryan joined the Fianna of Republican Sinn Fein. He later progressed to the Real IRA.

Always well dressed because of his upbringing and a committed non drinker and non smoker, according to the ONH source, Ryan was “pretty high up in the Real IRA ranks, he was a big mover, was well thought off, honest and charismatic”.

It was this impression, said the source, which made Ryan “very prominent and well respected” among the other dissident republican factions.

The key question is; will Ryan’s murder act as a fresh springboard to kick-start the sporadic terror campaign by republican dissidents in the North, and develop a way of recruitment among impressionable young republicans in the South?

The main ingredient in this republican mix will be the impact of the formation of the so-called New IRA - effectively an amalgamation of the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD), and a number of independent former Provo cells.

The problem, too, for Sinn Fein, is how the Northern and Southern security forces will operationally react to the New IRA. Publicly, their response has been mooted. There have been no Dad’s Army-style ‘Don’t Panic, Don’t Panic’-style speeches from leading PSNI officers. Such senior commanders are still emphasising a significant threat still exists from dissidents.

In the early years of the dissident republican terror campaign - in spite of the disaster of the Omagh massacre - the main aim was to publicly embarrass Sinn Fein into condemning actions by violent republicans.

When Sinn Fein took its seats on the Policing Board in the North, the dissidents’ plan was to target Catholic members of the security forces. Senior Sinn Fein officials - particularly Stormont deputy First Minister Martin McGuiness (a former Derry PIRA commander) - were forced into situations to describe so-called fellow republicans using language not heard since the Irish Civil War between pro and anti-Treaty factions.

From a nationalist perspective, the growth of the Provos at the start of the conflict in the 1960s was that the British Government tried to impose a colonial-style military solution in Northern Ireland as if it was fighting the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya.

Foolishly, the British Government listened to key Unionist Brian Faulkner and introduced internment. Internment and Bloody Sunday in Londonderry gave the Provos their best recruiting tools.
Unionists responded by trying to brand the Civil Rights Movement as a movement against the state, even though many working class Protestant families found themselves living in the same social poverty as their Catholic counterparts. Thousands of working class loyalists would have equally benefited from Terence O’Neill’s reforms.

But the Right-wing of Unionism was not taking the reforms seriously enough, and a strong movement was emerging lead by a certain Ian Paisley senior. Provisional republicans were able to use the Civil Rights Movement to goad both the Stormont and Westminster administrations into making unwise military decisions. While the B Specials had been crucial to crushing the 1956-62 IRA border campaign, the late Roman Catholic Cardinal Conway was instrumental in getting the B Men disbanded.

Bearing these historical developments in mind, the key question is how the dissident republican movement creates a situation whereby the British and Irish governments adopt the view they can jointly crush the dissidents through a military strategy.

With the DUP snugly entrenched in the power-sharing Stormont Executive with Sinn Fein, and little likelihood of major revivals of fortunes for either the election -battered Ulster Unionists or feud-ridden SDLP, the chances of a tough-talking and effective SDLP/UUP Opposition emerging at the Assembly are next to nil.

The British are notorious for their back-channel talks with republicans. They are the masters of the secret talks. What happens if dissident republicans can wring more meaningful concessions from the British and Irish governments than Sinn Fein in the Dail and Stormont?

How could the British and Irish administrations sell the concept of a ’shoot to kill’ policy against dissident? What happens if loyalist hardliners in the UDA and UVF rise to the dissident bait and begin a limited form of retaliation?

Is there a scenario whereby IRA members loyal to the Sinn Fein peace strategy would return to some kind of Night of the Long Knives reprisals to eliminate the dissident republican threat in the same way as the Provos launched a similar offensive against the republican breakaway faction, the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation?

Now that London and Dublin has Sinn Fein totally immersed in the peace process, the governments can turn their attention to persuading the dissidents to join the democratic process. The British are notorious for their ’acceptable level of violence’ approach while negotiations are in progress.

The New IRA might embark on a terror campaign which would provoke either the British to indulge in a return to their Kenyan Mau Mau tactics, or else provoke grumbling loyalists into resuming their sectarian campaign against Catholic targets.

In either scenario, Sinn Fein could not allow the New IRA to emerge into the old Provisionals. To prevent this, it must either become like Fianna Fail after the end of the Irish War and push the dissidents finally into influential oblivion, or it could open negotiations with the dissidents to bring them into the peace process under Sinn Fein’s wing.

What Sinn Fein cannot do, is sit around and pretend the dissidents do not exist. Sinn Fein ignores the dissidents at their peril. 


  1. One of John,s better posts I think and very much on the mark,what happens next after the murder of vol Alan Ryan is going tell the story of how "dissident"republicanism fare in the future.

  2. They used three blank guns in their final non salute for Alan Ryan- they are going no where because they came from nothing-

  3. That's Food for thought from John.
    There are several parts which I have stated would happen, Especially the UDA/UVF acting upon any threat from anti treaty republicans. Ryan has been linked to drug barons, gangters, etc, by the Gardai. It's a propaganda war for them.


    "they are going no where because they came from nothing-"

    I do recall those same words about the provo's at the start of there campaign.

    For your information, They came from anti Provo Republicans.

  4. itsjustmacker-

    " I do recall those same words about the provo's at the start of there campaign "

    but its not the start of the real raad campaign they have been active duds for a decade or more-there is no Provo in those blankety blanks-

  5. I dont believe PSF are doing nothing , or ignoring Republicans.
    I think they are using everything in the imperial arsonal, to crush the threat posed, remember they are the British administration in Ireland, it is they who are interning,censoring and criminalising Republicans

  6. One just has to witness the strength of unity, solidrity and numbers at Óglach Ryan's funeral from all sections of anti-GFA Republicans to see that there is an increasing threat from them both militarily & politically.

    Likewise, in Belfast, Derry and other parts of the British Occupied North. Many are now listening and heeding the words of the same groups. Stormont has not worked the way in which PSF had hoped...

    The continued Internment of Marian Price, Martin Corey and others illustrates Britain's ongoing War and occupation in Ireland and so long as that continues, so will armed Republicanism.

  7. Dissident republicanism is and always has been, tainted with the drug and criminality culture. One percent taint is one hundred percent taint.

    If the history of republicanism tells us anything, it illustrates clearly that 'failure' is the product of delusion. This delusion, is the hubris of 'armed struggle' overcoming 'subjugation' for a more egalitarian outcome. Well history has its own take on that one.

    PSF, the 'other' catholic nationalist party in the North, successors to the Redmondites, Parnellites, Fenians, United Irishmen, IRB and Sticks have begun their own revisionist pilgrimage to 'home rule' and they need a 'bogeyman' to ferment this idealogical Uturn. Gone are the days when working class republicans lent support to idealists who promised to put more bread on the table. Disgustingly, our people are more akin to believing 'poverty' is when you don't have enough money for a 'carryout' or 'chinese takeaway'. We have become anaesthetised to justice and fairplay and can't see through the fog of 'skyTV life'. Last year Alan Ryan in an interview with a Herald reporter commented that 'nine hunger strikers had died' and admitted driving a BMW, despite being on the dole. Some revolutionary.
    Self serving dissidents are always going to be there, as long as we have self serving PSF, force feeding us with institutionalised acceptance of the GFA. They are both part and parcel of the same brit dynamic.
    PSF without dissidents, is like catholicism without Hell.

  8. Mickeybroy harrier are you now prive to garda intelligence,wouldnt surprise me in the slightest,after all you and your party are a part of the establishment the touting division an all Ireland wing,Itsjustmacker called it right re your comment about where they came from,most thinking people would say they emerged from the now defunct armless pira.

  9. truthrevisionist,

    'Last year Alan Ryan in an interview with a Herald reporter commented that 'nine hunger strikers had died'.'

    Of course, we only have the hostile journalist's word for that. It made a good story, but it doesn't ring true. Where would anyone dig up the number nine from? It sounds contrived to me.

  10. michaelhenry,
    It would nice, really nice if just one time you would take the time to expand on what you say.
    What serious clue would you have about any of these organisations?
    I would say you are totally ill-equipped to make comments which are at odds with very well researched findings, especially in relation to the composition of these groups.
    Nothing you say sounds remotely authentic. At best your rapid fire logic sounds precarious at worst rubbish.
    If you have something concrete about these organisations then tell it logically.
    Even if it is second hand via the PSNI, let us all in.

  11. Agreed John and recollecting a number is not as bad as allowing a number to go to an early grave as per Adams and his cronies in quisling $inn £ein

  12. John McGirr

    My point is less to do with what individual journalists report, than what the overall demeanour of this 'drug-racketeering-criminality' sub-culture, says about the road that post GFA dissent has travelled.

    I think we all know ex-provos who are 'drink and drug criminals' who consistently condemned 'drug dealing' as a crime against the Irish people and condoned various degrees of punishment. And please don't be naive enough not to believe that many, many crimes committed in the name of 'republicanism' were committed in drink and drug fuelled rages. (as in loyalism).

    So look at where that all got us to..... And when I look at the recent plethora of graffiti on walls, in the New Lodge and Ardoyne, eulogizing these petty criminals to the martyrdom status and eminince of Bobby Sands and his comrades, it makes sick.

    Because we disagree, with where PSF have taken us to...
    it doesn't necessarily follow that we should give credence to criminals who oppose them. As in most cases, 'my enemies' enemy' is not always my friend.

  13. truthrevisionist,

    Whilst I agree that the criminal element should be constantly excised from Republicanism and that it maybe even true that 'my enemies' enemy' is not always my friend’, I think it is easy to see things in the past with ‘rosy tinted spectacles’. There are those who look back to Bobby Sands, while others harp on about the ‘old’ IRA having been full of those with boy-scout morality and that the Provos were nothing in comparison to them. In reality there are some fine people within the ranks of those now dismissively called ‘dissidents’ and probably a few rogues

    There are undoubtedly those who have carried out actions which are easy to portray as ‘lining their own pockets’, but they were always there. It is easy to accuse people of being involved with drugs and criminality, but it is not by any means always true. Even where it is true, why should one per cent taint the rest?

    Of course if the papers are right, or even 50% right, that is another story. It is my view that the papers are being used as another arm of the British and Free State governments, colluded with by former Republicans in a re-vamped Stormont and there unionist allies.

    Much dissent is being sown by many shady organizations in a frantic attempt to destroy Republican resistance. It has to be said that it has been done with a degree of success. But the draconian measures used, both in the Occupied Six Counties and in the Free State, show that the reality is that the very desperation of those employing such measures marks their fear of a re-grouping and re-forming of an unbroken and unbowed Republican movement that will not go away.

  14. Michaelhenry.

    "but its not the start of the real raad campaign they have been active duds for a decade or more-there is no Provo in those blankety blanks-"

    Seems you are letting your fingers do the walking, sitting at your computer typing without your brain funcioning, if you think for one iota of a second that there are no ex provs there, then you are fooling no one but yourself.
    Oh , By the way, The "Blanety Blank" are very intelegent people from the ex provos. Show that to your friends in RUC/PSNI/Gardai/MI5.

  15. immitation weapons wont scare the drug gangs too much. A bit sad that carry on.

    SF only have to start executing past comrades now, they've done everything else.

  16. Some facts known about Alan Ryan:

    He lived at home with his mother in the family home when not staying in Carlow to be with his young daughter

    He did not drink

    He did not smoke

    He owned no property

    He drove various cars of friends to get about

    He was never mentioned with regard to the CAB because he had nothing. CAB had nothing they could use as an excuse to demonise him- does anyone think if they were given half a chance that the garda media club would not have used even the most spurious pretext to link Ryan to CAB if they could

    One of the most laughable things i have ever read on the PQ is that Alan Ryan gave an interview to the Evening Herald- it just needs no further comment.

    I understand why Sin Feign hate his memory so much- he was everything they are not

  17. as David said, about it being stated that Alan Ryan gave an interview to the Dublin Evening Herald.

    This is the only mention of Alan Ryan in the Herald, and it relates to

    "Stokes's dad has pub threats case put back"

    "Stokes and Alan Ryan (30), of Grange Abbey Drive, Donaghmede, Daryl Mulcahy (19), with an address at Matt Talbot Court, and Derek Nolan (29), of Seacliff Road, in Baldoyle had been charged in May under Section 17 of the Public Order Act."
    "The charges allege they made a demand with menaces, on March 13 last, to Shane Simpson, the former leaseholder of the Castle public house, in Summerhill, in the north inner city of Dublin, to cease trading and "close within 24 hours".

    But I find it odd that there is no mention of his murder when i typed his name into the search bar, I know its a very common name, I even typed in "Alan Ryan Interview" , no results found!!!.

  18. Itsjustmacker a cara" demonisation " now where did I hear of that before mmm?

  19. The dup motion from Gregoryorangeboy for the Irish govt to apologise for the emergence of the ra in the 70,s was passed by one vote, his "it took 30 years to defeat that monster,but eventually that was accomplished" has a ring of truth to it he however left out the invaluable contribution to that played by the leadership by Quisling $inn £ein

  20. Brian Feeney has described Quisling $inn £ein,s attitude to the dup as supine in todays Vatican Times aka The Irish News,surely he means prone how else could the dup have fucked them for so long....

  21. Marty-

    The DUP is running down to dublin crying most of the time now instead of crying abroad to london-
    did you hear Arlene foster cry about the non security at the border by the Irish goverment during the war yet the brit army was supposed to look after security on this side of their border-yes they are that stupid-keep on supporting them kid-

  22. Mickeyboy it is quisling $inn £ein who supports the dup and is in partnership with the bigoted shower of bastards,Bap nose Arlene Foster and her cronies including quisling $inn £ein are using this shit as a distraction and a smokescreen to cover up the balls up they have made running this place for your majesty a cara but I know you,ll keep on supporting them kid!