Talks must begin with dissidents: Republican unity under threat if splinter groups are ignored.

Former Blanket columnist Dr John Coulter with his Irish Star article of today

Dublin and London must begin immediate talks with dissidents otherwise it will be the broad republican family which will be de-stabilised, not the peace process. Pious words from the pro-Union community that it will never talk to terrorists should be dismissed as hypocritical and meaningless rhetoric.

 At the height of the Provos’ campaign of slaughter in the 1970s, London was in secret talks with the IRA whilst publicly denying all knowledge of the talks. In the 1980s, I was present as a note taker when secret talks took place between Ulster Unionists and an Northern Ireland Office Minister to kick-start a peace process which resulted in the Good Friday Agreement. And all this took place when publicly Unionists were ordered to snub the Tory Government because of the 1985 Hillsborough Agreement.

If the 1990s brought loyalist and republican death squads in from the cold, resulting in the 1994 ceasefires, why can’t London and Dublin bring dissident republicans to the negotiating table?
To dismiss such talks in the wake of the murder of prison officer David Black could result in a civil-war scenario developing in republicanism. What happens if the dissidents become such irritants, nuisances and embarrassments to mainstream republicanism, especially Sinn Fein at Stormont, that older IRA pro-McGuinness figures decide to unleash a Nazi-style ‘Night of the Long Knives’? This was the notorious night in 1930s Germany when Nazi tyrant Hitler wiped out many of his political opponents in one large-scale attack.

When militant republicans fall out amongst each other, the resulting feuds can be so blood-thirsty. Historically, what about the IRA brother who butchered IRA brother during the Irish Civil War after the Dail narrowly ratified the Treaty in the 1920s? More IRA men were executed by Free State forces than during the previous War of Independence against the Tans. What about the 1970s feuds between the Provos and Stickies as to which was the true IRA? What about the dozens of leading republican socialists butchered during the bloodbaths of the INLA’s internecine wars?
And most significantly, what about the night the IRA declared war on the republican splinter group, the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation, and wiped the fringe terror gang out in a single evening?
The dissident groups which combined to form the New IRA may be small in number, but they could give Sinn Fein and the Provos a very bloody nose if violent action was required.

It should not be forgotten that many young, middle class, very well educated republicans are joining Sinn Fein – republicans who have never served an apprenticeship in the ‘RA. They do not have the physical capacity to militarily take on the dissidents. Will we see history repeating itself where a Stormont Sinn Fein Assembly team orders the British security forces to ‘root out and eradicate’ known dissidents.  

But what happens if to maintain overall unity in the republican family, the IRA hardmen have to make another re-appearance on nationalist streets to crush the dissident threat?

The peace process may not unravel because of ‘an acceptable level of violence’ by dissidents, but republican unity could come apart at the seams if nationalist confronts nationalist.

So for the sake of republican stability, the dissidents must be persuaded to enter maybe not the peace process, but certainly the discussion process. A volatile and unstable mainstream republican movement could pose serious problems for Stormont and the entire peace process.


  1. Very interesting piece by Dr Coulter.
    Its true that secret talks were going on between The British MI5/MI6 and P.i.r.a. leaders, and, they are going on to this very day, but, with SF leadership.

    I for one could not see any of those Leaders who are trying to kick start a new Republican struggle give there identities away, even through intermediaries, the time has come to trust no one.
    As i have stated in several posts, all premature explosions of P.I.R.A. ops, the bombs were compromised, taken by the touts (agents) to there handlers to be worked on, and it does not take two and two to work out the agent, rule of thumb in those days was, faulty timer, inert semtex etc, yet the obvious clue was never taken up, the reason being, there was that many agents, no one new who was who, they trusted no one and MI5/MI6 played on that, giving out false info on innocent people to save there scum agents ,and they are still within SF, Its down to the bomb maker or the bomb transporter to the cell carrying out the op. I'm sure that would answer any questions as to who the agents were and are,except those who were executed, but, "not by P.I.R.A."
    As for the P.I.R.A. comming back onto the streets to take on the "So Called Dissadents", "N.I.R.A."that would be a big big No No, they are to stuck to there Armani suits now and there big holiday homes in Donegal.
    The British do not want to talk to them, that would be breaking there agenda to destabalise the "G"ot "F"uck "A"ll by introducing ex special branch into the "H"istorical "I"nquiries "T"eam
    I know all about that scum, they have been trying to implicate me in something which i have not done, though i was present on that evening, "I was not carrying", I just ignored the 3 letters, I said to myself, If they had concrete evidence,which is impossible ,except, "Only through touts lying to save themselves", then i would have been arrested.
    How do you stop touting, my answer is, cells of 4, split them up into 2, each group of two goes everywere together, you may ask yourself how is that possible, my answer is, "IT IS POSSIBLE".
    one final thing, The Loyalists Paramilitaries have not gone away, They are still armed to the teeth, By the Royal Irish Regiment (UDR), and, RUC special branch, and, MI5/6
    so, Dr John Coulter, I appreciate your dedication for The British and Irish governments to bring those who are classed as dissadents, "Dissenters" into talks, It wont work, neither Governments can be trusted anymore.

  2. Dr john coulter-

    " I was present as a note taker when secret talks took place between ulster unionists and an northern Ireland office minister to
    kick-start a Peace process which resulted in the Good Friday Agreement "

    Lol-it could not have been done without you coulter-
    Who were these ulster unionists then reporter john-what did you write down-spit the brick out lad-

  3. John it would be naive of you to even think that the so called back channel has been closed.the Brits have proved to be masters in slight of hand politics. they will roundly condemn each and every republican splinter group while actively engaging in hail fellow well met talks, I am of the opinion that Adams had his head turned in such talks by agents of influence telling him over the years how much the republican movement revolved around him and what a statesman he would become when we get this violence behind us,that type of shit, Martybroy I think was just bought over. this is a modus operandi that they the Brits have used effectively over many conflicts whats to think it wont work again in the present circumstances,given that militant republicanism seems set to clone itself on the provos then they are set to make the same mistakes..

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  5. that it will never talk to terrorists ...

    Dr Coulter your words. Not anyone else's.

    Are you really a man of peace? Within your 2nd line you have already conjured up violence in someone's mind.

    Why instead didn't you offer your thoughts on Fr. Tom Toner who recently passed away?

    Your first line John.

    Dublin and London must begin immediate talks with dissidents

    Incase it missed your attention both London and Dublin have been in direct contact with dissident Irish republicans since at least 1986. Other wise Martin McGuiness wouldn't have said what he said.

    The only thing that stops me taking a quick jibe at you John is the stress you are under living with autism. But sometimes you are further of the mark than me.

  6. I may come accross as a bit simple but i tend to look at outcomes rather than the journey to that point.
    If it was me that was leading the war against our occupiers, i would nt want any Brit c**t telling me why i was wrong or trying to buy me off with an air of status within my community,in the political sphere of course.We have all witnessed where this led SF.
    I hope the leaders of the IRA continue to ignore the baiting of are enemies and their surrogates within republicanism.
    It is the same ethos you would apply in the barracks,DONT TALK TO THEM BASTARDS.
    We dont want them here and if anyone wants justification for the operations of the IRA, they must think Irish people are continuously thick or believe they are right.
    Anybody wants to know why irish republicans keep fighting the war.READ YOUR F**KING HISTORY.
    All SF has done is prolong the agony of the Brit departure.
    Once they go and we are a real republic,we will probably need a french style revelotion to get rid of the parasites that have been living on the back of Irish misery forever.

  7. Mickyhenry,

    I see your leader's portrait now hangs alongside Thatchers in Britain's National Portrait Gallery.

    How fitting that those two should hang together...

    By the way it's fecking awful.

  8. Dixie I agree about the pic a cara but then again rats dont make the nicest of pictures, and along with Thatcher could you think of any other pair apart from Scap and Martybroy who should be publicly hung together,

  9. Two of the people who killed the hunger strikers hanged side by side. If I agreed with the death penalty I would find that most appropriate

  10. Dixie-

    I am not an Arty person but have to agree with you that it is a bad
    painting about a good leader- its worth a few notes as well-maybe somebody that knows about art can explain that one-

  11. Would Dr Coulter's “Night of the Long Knifes” scenario not result in the following day of the long arrests or is he suggesting that a potential slaughter would be immune from the law and that would cement peace in what universe.

  12. Michaelhenry,

    you really think Thatcher was a good leader?

  13. He's talking about Adams Mackers, as if you didn't know.

    While the likes of The Dark led from the front Adams and McGuinness led from a safe distance...

    It's a fact of life that people like Mickyhenry were born to be led. Even if they find themselves facing a brick wall at the end of a cul-de-sac, they'll bang their heads against it because if Gerry led them there then he knows what he's doing.

    The next time Mickyhenry has a headache he'll know what caused it.

  14. I'd never have guessed Dixie!!

  15. Frankie,

    I recall many conversations and arguments I had with Tom Toner during the Blanket protest – mostly about theology and religious belief. While I thought there was more he could have done in terms of speaking out against the brutality I was saddened to learn of his death. And when we judge his role against that of the Committee he comes out quite well. He steered none of the boys to their graves.


    ‘How do you stop touting?’

    One sure way is to have nothing that can be touted on.

    The basis weakness of secret societies is secrecy. It is a tradable commodity, bought and sold. Once you have a secret society you will have entrepreneurs willing to buy and sell the secrecy. I think that is an immutable law of secret societies.


    Adams had his head turned in such talks by agents of influence telling him over the years how much the republican movement revolved around him and what a statesman he would become when we get this violence behind us

    I think you are right that the AOIs were doing this but big Shipman knew exactly what was happening and where he wanted things to go. I don’t think he was ever influenced by AOIs and sycophants. They just made it easy for him.