As suggested in a recent post there is a substantial disparity between Easter Sunday Republicanism and Good Friday nationalism. How a chasm of such magnitude might be bridged between two divergent and by now seemingly irreconcilable political projects appears logic defying. If these two can reconcile it will be taken as read that one of them was never serious about their current project to begin with.

As for trying to collapse those two days that separate Easter Sunday from Good Friday the former BBC security correspondent Barney Rowan has explored the possibility. If he is naive I take comfort from not sharing his company. If on the other hand he is brave, I regret that I have neither his stamina nor his patience.

On UTV a few nights back there was a Rowan feature about Sinn Fein’s professed desire to talk with republicans. Declan Kearney, the party chair, is the Sinn Fein figure most associated with the proposal. Ciaran Cunningham of the Republican Network for Unity, who represents one of the many groups on the republican spectrum, seemed up for the dialogue while stressing his team’s commitment to republican principles.

It should be axiomatic that there is little purpose to republicans sitting down with Sinn Fein when republicans are increasingly coming to refer to ‘Sinn Fein the Unionist Party’. Not so long ago Martin McGuinness stood with the British police to scream ‘traitors’ at republicans. Now they supposedly want to talk rather than scream.

Sinn Fein’s real interest is in grabbing the opportunity to wax peaceful and reasonable in the hope that it will look better than the two main unionist parties ever did in their relationship with the difficult wing that seemed intent on ‘flagging’ up trouble. It will try to rekindle from the embers something of the flame that once ignited political interest in capitals like London, Dublin and Washington, proclaiming itself the guardian of the peace process at a juncture when slippage and drift seem to be replacing courageous and imaginative as the lexiconic buzzwords.

At its upper echelons Sinn Fein must also be aware that its value to the British establishment lay almost solely in its ability to halt republican armed activities. To the extent that armed actions still go on, the party’s asset status is undermined. Sinn Fein feels the need for a facelift in the hope that it can once again look attractive to the increasingly disinterested benefactors it had long sponged concessions from and in doing so help offset its growing image as a tail for the DUP top dog.

Thinking about it seriously, what would Sinn Fein have to say to republicans that they are not already aware of? Republicans are not in a position of finding Sinn Fein an unknown quantity, about which they might discover something previously beyond their ken. There is too little in the way of common ground to be jointly fertilised. The things that divided them to begin with have only grown wider as time has moved on and Sinn Fein has become ‘the unionist party.’  Sinn Fein support the police who are kicking in republican doors, the prison service that is mistreating republican prisoners, the Diplock courts that are sending republicans down for long stretches, the executive that is pushing the Tory economic cuts, and the partition principle that legitimises the British presence, plus a whole lot more that republicans disdain the party for.

Declan Kearney knows all this, and not being a fool by any stretch of the imagination, must as surely discern that republicans will no more come to share his position than they will support the bombing of Gaza. 

For his part Ciaran Cunningham is one of those republicans who stuck his head above the parapet when it was both unpopular and dangerous to do so. He was on the ground facing the hostility of Provo power in the bitter atmosphere that mushroomed immediately after Shinner gunmen killed Joe O’Connor in Ballymurphy. He put it up to the Provo regime of truth and challenged its lies and defied its intimidation. 

For that reason I think that Ciaran Cunningham, before considering any sit down with Sinn Fein, should request a simple gesture of its honest intent. Ask it to acknowledge that the Provisional IRA killed Joe O’Connor. It does not have to give an apology or even an explanation about either the killing or the reason PIRA lied after the deed;  just a simple statement that the IRA on Friday  the 13th of October 2000 took the life of Joseph O’Connor.

If Sinn Fein fails to give the answer that Ciaran Cunningham knows to be true he should not even bother rising from his chair to begin dialogue just to hear the same old same old. And he can always tell detractors that he had no intention of sitting down with a body intent on lying from the get go.

 Besides, Joe O’Connor and his family deserve nothing less.


  1. Joe O'Connor played with the cat and got scratched.

  2. Of course we begin with a comment from someone too gutless to put their own name to it.

    Grow a pair of balls if you want to comment Fear as Aontroim...

  3. I never met or knew Joe O'Connor but I've had the privilege of meeting Anthony and sharing discussions with him in his Ballymurphy home around the time of this awful and unjustified murder in relation to a project I was working on. And I remember how helpful, gracious and honest the man was. I also remember the terrible, disgraceful treatment he and his partner were subjected to at the time for daring to speak out about this barbaric act. It's still shocking to recall the way they were harassed and intimidated by people who were ultimately meant to be their own. What say you Fear as Aointroim about this or can it likewise be justified on the grounds he also was "scratched while playing with the cat"? There was simply no excuse for it just as there was no excuse for the killing of Joe O'Connor

    1. He had the intelligence of a door handle. He stole guns. He walked about ballymurphy with a short in his waste band using it to intimidate people. He wasn't a republican, that's for sure! I can go on...

  4. Sean Bres,

    trying times indeed!


    it merely underlines the fact that the opinion expressed is not credible enough for the author to stand over.

  5. Now to your comments Mackers.

    I couldn't have put it better myself. In fact I found a certain unease among other Republicans I spoke to in regards to speaking with PSF.

    They would want to use any such talks as a means of patching up the crumbling foundations of what they now refer to as 'Our Peace Process'. Would any Republican in the right mind help shore up the lies of Adamsism?

    I suspect there is also a fear within the Provo leadership of the gradual regrowth of Republicanism while the numbers of Republicans still clinging to them are declining.

    If Republicans feel the need to talk then lets speak to each other both within and on the outside - I'll say no more there - We need unity and to find a path forward that will bring the majority behind us.

  6. As for Declan Kearney well he seems well and good at apologising when he thinks it'll provide just another wee bit of gain for his party. Just like McGuinness proudly proclaiming that IRA operations which resulted in civilian deaths could be classed as murders. How dare he. A lot of their own party members are sick of this stuff and have said so directly to people like myself.

    You say an admission of guilt is all should be asked of them Anthony but if Kearney's so fond of apologising where better to start than with Ciaran and his family and also yourself and yours. Something tells me there wouldn't be many votes to gain on that score though so it's as likely as us all meeting on Mars this summer for our holidays.

    The way I call it is Sinn Fein are increasingly worried about losing their core base and this is yet another example of them trying to placate the hesitant in their ranks and perhaps to attempt a reconciliation with the recently departed. Your own analysis fits well also but I believe worries about the grass-roots is the bigger motivating factor here. Local to my part of the world the impact being made by the 1916 Societies has got them worried and I see this outreach to republicanism crap they're attempting as an effort to claw back the ground they've lost and are losing. The numbers in Carrickmore for Tyrone National Grave's independent County Commemoration has told its own story, the fact the place was empty the day before when the Sinn Fein apologisers came to town likewise.

    People are seeing through their bullshit and they know it, you can only get away with hunting with the hound while running with the hare for so long

  7. Ciaran Cunningham is one of many who will stand up for what is right.

    It's common knowledge pira killed Joe.
    The Kearney fella speaks with a forked tongue just like the rest of PSF, As stated, they scream for the arrests of Anti Treaty supporters , and, from the other side of there mouth they want talks with the same groups! Would it be to get a glimpse of everyone and grass on them?, I wouldn't put nothing past that shower of shit.

    What make me very sad is, There are still good Republicans who follow PSF , but they are stuck in a , "WHO DO I BELIEVE ,WHEN IS THE UNITED IRELAND COMING 2016?" , Its understandable that most of them don't want to return to a war situation , But , I can't see any other way , I sincerely wish there was a different way, PSF talked to the Brits that many times in secret , they actually became Brits. They might as well go the whole hog and take there seats in the London British Parliament , they are 3/4 of the way there now. RNU should be very wary of PSF and there motives for talks.
    As far as I'm concerned, Talking to the Brits at this stage by any Anti Treaty Group , is a big NO.
    Just look how they turned PSF, or , is that not what PSF wanted!.

    Just let time take its course , Patience is a virtue.
    The light at the end of the tunnel is not an oncoming train.

  8. itsjustmacker said...

    " Its understandable that most of them don't want to return to a war situation , But , I can't see any other way.."

    I can cara, and it doesn't entail becoming a constitutional nationalist.

    There is a silent majority of Republicans out there not yet tapped into. They want nothing to do with PSF but equally so they don't wish to be associated with armed Republicanism that tries to follow the path of PIRA.

    It is my opinion that many how see a way back to Republicanism through the Societies or the likes of Eirigí and we are seeing this through the growth of these groups.

    The Provos need the Peace Process and those still following the armed struggle route are giving them, believe it or not, their peace process.

    Republicanism can do more damage as a unified front than any amount of bombs or bullets.

    As I said however we need to speak to each other and if we can't reasons as to why not must be given.

  9. Itsjustmacker there was a lot in what you said there I couldn't disagree with. I also believe there are many ordinary and decent republicans still within the Sinn Fein movement, in fact I know it as many of them are friends of mine despite our differences, some of them close friends. Because of the anarchic maelstrom that is alternative republicanism at the minute they're worried about making the jump, especially as the old Adams assertion that "anyone who goes out the door is going nowhere but home" still holds true in the minds of many. They need a credible alternative. That's not to dismiss any alternative republican groups but just to say there is a lot of work still to do and as Dixie says we should get cracking.

    Where I'd differ is that I see the armed struggle as having run it's course and we need to explore different avenues in the current climate. The support is simply not there anymore and if we're to have a chance of rebuilding our movement it needs knocked on the head. I'd go as far to say it's now counterproductive. We should salute the Volunteers who brought us this far and never forget them, expose those who sold out what they fought for and reorganise, rebuild and restore a movement capable of delivering their ultimate aims and objectives. We owe it to them; we owe it to ourselves.

    The circumstances to allow for such a development are starting to take shape, it's incumbent on us not to blow it. There's a long road ahead; as I said in yesterdays thread it's our children we are building for - they will have to finish this. Our job is to make a good start on their behalf and leave them a republican movement worthy of the name, worthy of respect, with the integrity of old and with the capability to deliver. People want constructive, credible solutions, they want critical debate, mostly they want an end to the lies and false-promises. The days of Danny Morrison or Sean Murray coming down to us restless natives, giving us the Belfast line and it being accepted as gospel are well and truly over I believe. Therein lies the rub. Things are changing and changing quicker by the day. I see the growth of the Societies all around Tyrone and wider afield as the best evidence of this. People are waking up and voting with their feet and if this is all handled in the right way then all is not yet lost and perhaps after all Good Friday may not be the death of Irish Republicanism after all!

  10. Dixie, every time you've commented I've been in the middle of publishing my own and didn't see what you'd written but I agree with everything you're saying 100 per cent. I think the Brits and Sinn Fein are more worried about the emergence of a credible alternative than dealing with a low-level insurgency. As you say such an insurgency gives them their reason to exist, they can point to the republican bogeyman and say "this is what will happen if you's don't stick with us". Very credible people in Tyrone are working towards just such an alternative, I hope they can roll out what it is they seek to build despite the ugly attempts to blacken the names of the good people involved. I'm sure there are similar people elsewhere trying to do the same. There is indeed a reservoir of untapped support because republicans simply couldn't be happy with this. As you say given something they feel they can support there could be seismic shifts ahead

  11. Sean I made the point to someone else that " we need to listen to the 'silent majority' (of Republicans) first - In that I mean their absence speaks louder than words.

    Where have they gone and how can we find them again in order to hear what they have to say?

    Perhaps if we do it right the forthcoming Brendan Hughes Lecture In Derry on May 1st can bring some out of the shadows?

  12. Why don't the 1916 societies and the the other 'fringe' republican groups sit down together and come up with a credible alternative...? My reading is they (fringe republican groups) are basically all saying the same thing..Wouldn't it be more benificial if they joined together as one voice....?

    I've seen RNU's 'update' about an alternative to the GFA. Surely there is enough in it to at least work on, flesh out...tweak.

  13. Sean.

    Where I'd differ is that I see the armed struggle as having run it's course and we need to explore different avenues in the current climate.

    PSF with there secret meetings with the British , and , believe it or not, some of those meetings have not been documented, as PSF stated, "DUE TO SECURITY", What they are stating is, "WE (us) HAVE NO RIGHT TO KNOW ABOUT CERTAIN SECRET MEETINGS BECAUSE THE BRITISH SECRET SERVICE (MI5) WARNED US NOT TO MENTION THE DETAILS" , otherwise PSF would not be in there Grossly over paid jobs, Leaving Genuine Foot soldier Volunteers as to not knowing if they were coming or going, Thinking they had won, Brainwashed into believing it as well.

    There is a multitude of work to be done to rebuild a strong alternative to PSF and a new Republican Movement , and , as far as myself and others are concerned , It is through Education , to be able to build the bridges for which others can be taught in various Trades , professional trades I might add. We Don't need an all out war on our Island anymore ,WHY BLOW OUR OWN COUNTRY TO PIECES! but , freedom will never be achieved through dialogue By approaching the British establishment for talks , lets wait until they approach the Republican Movement for dialogue, that's when it will be known they are genuine , not like Adams and Co approaching the British and surrendering everything. We have to learn from mistakes of the past and go forward in a positive mood , getting Children who want it , Through College and University, They will be the future for a United Ireland , they will have a multitude of professional skills to lead the nation to freedom.

    Those brave comrades who died on active service, those ten brave men who gave there lives for freedom ,Everyone on the blanket and Dirty protest, they shall never be forgotten.

  14. Dixie:

    Perhaps if we do it right the forthcoming Brendan Hughes Lecture In Derry on May 1st can bring some out of the shadows?

    Just have a good look around , everyone else will be doing the same.

    You might be in for a surprise as to who will be there. Enjoy.

  15. Think it's obvious to all and sundry now SF are desperate to be needed by the brits. Totally untrue that they are republican in any way whatsoever.


    where and what time is the lecture on May 1st?

  16. fear as antroim

    SF supped with the devil and are getting it up the exhaust-pipe.

    1. You presume im SF or somehow support them. Wrong.

  17. Ultimately, there will have to be an alignment of republicanism as no single group is likely to become the dominant force. Projects are based on personal loyalities, local circumstances and ideological preferences, but all have republican values and beliefs at their core. I believe the Centenary will act as a powerful focus for all republican groups seeking to build alliances around core principles. A United Centenary Commemoration should be the slogan for 1916 which is only a short time away.

  18. Alec,

    I think one of the problems for those sympathetic to republican ideas and willing to help the prisoners is the hostility between some of the prisoners. I know that people get deflated when they hear that some prisoners are shunning others.

    The issue of abuses in prisons cannot go ignored. But our old friend Kissinger said of academics, the disputes are so vicious because they are about so little. That cannot be the perception that prisoners allow to be generated by some of their attitudes and actions. If people are to unite behind prisoners then prisoners have to unite behind themselves.

  19. Ultimately, there will have to be an alignment of republicanism as no single group is likely to become the dominant force

    That's the only way foward I can see. There has to be a coming together otherwise the status quo will continue well after 2016...

  20. Mackers,

    I accept your point but if only it were so simple. There has always been division and disagreement in the prisons as you well know. Today is no different in that respect accept it involves a much smaller number of prisoners. Internal dynamics explain a lot of what is going on whereas people outside have little time for such pettiness.

  21. Larry,

    I think that's a good point - the organising principle of republicanism is Brit repression and the Brits will be seeking to avoid the big bang.

    You would think at this juncture when the Provo defeat is so complete that it would be an ideal point to at least set about building an unarmed republicanism that will avoid the dead end of military endeavours. Military initiatives, because of secrecy, will always be compromised due to the number of people willing to sell secrets.


    I understand that as somebody who had to confront the elitism in the jail, you would have little time for it. The divisions we had in jail seemed not to be so debilitating. Today, it galls people sympathetic to prisoners to hear of solid republicans of many years standing being given the ostracism treatment. What an arrogant luxury to be able to ostracise a fellow imprisoned republican.

    We had enough of that bollix with the Provos. If republicans fail to learn from Provo mistakes they will end up doing what the Provos did.

  22. In response to Alec's point about inside Maghaberry etc; Alec & a number of others have been trying to end the current situation between the various groups of POWs' in Roe and I welcome his help and input in that. What confuses me however is that there are some inside who flatly refuse to have dialogue with fellow POWs', with talking this all through, it will only fester a chairde!

    With reference to the main post Mackers, thanks again for your contribution in responding to the Shinners. I believe every Anti-GFA Republican has opinions on the subject and it'll no doubt help those maybe considering talking to them...

  23. Mackers,
    An arrogant luxury indeed. It also painfully sad as well as painfully pointless . I seen it all happen before , decent people ostracised because they did their time different from some of the rest of us. It never made them any less Republican in my eyes as I never had time for stuff like that. It was contrary to anything I ever learned as a young Republican and contrary to the Republican belief that people could ordered off protests not on.

  24. Maybe this is a pointless post. But why aren't anti-GFA republicans afforded more time (anytime) on mainstream media to put their case foward. My taking is when when Joe Public hears the words dissident republican the first thing people think of is phyiscal force and most times they 'anti GFA-ers' are allowed 'airtime' they are questined on the phyiscal force end of republicanism... And my understanding is PFR is only one part of dissident republicans.

  25. Frankie,

    as the song goes 'the revolution shall not be televised.'!!

    The pet project has to survive. Added to that is that the whisper weasels are onto the editors all the time spreading innuendo about their critics. I used to learn of it all the time. If a piece appeared they would be on whispering rather than deal with the piece openly. Another trick was to tell the papers they would not write if I or somebody else was to be writing on the same topic. They wanted a free run for their ideas or lack of ideas.

    Republicans by being so sensitive to the term 'dissident' allowed it to be applied with greater effect against them. In my view they should have faced it head on and used the exchange to shift the contours of the debate.

  26. I'd agree Dixie that events like the Brendan Hughes Annual Lecture are ideal for thrashing out a way forward capable of synchronising the various strands of our movement. Thinking back on last year's event in Cookstown, and the wide range of opinions represented, much of what we're discussing in this thread was the basis of conversations before, during and after. People then as now recognise the need for some form of a united front going forward. It was a very positive night from my perspective.

    Tommy McKearney delivered an excellent lecture on the theme 'Republicanism 2012: What is to be done?' There were republicans, socialists, socialist republicans, trade unionists, even communists in the room that evening; people from Derry City, Belfast, Armagh, Tyrone, Fermanagh, wherever and all with an equal place at the table, all afforded an equal right to have their say, all with an equal respect held for their opinion by the others in attendance. And I tell you now there was a lot, lot more to unite us than to divide us.

    That's how we need to go forward only I think we need to be better organised than just a one-off event like this, we need greater regularity in coming together, perhaps something more systematic - if only at an informal and basic level.

    In my own area, and elsewhere of course, the 1916 Societies are well on the way to providing an alternative of just such a description that people from all shades can feel comfortable with. The method they employ is a great prototype and worthy of wider support in that the Societies themselves are independent of all political parties and groups but not mutually exclusive to them or each other. So you can be a member of eirigi, 32 CSM, the RNU, RSF or whatever and still participate with what the Societies are doing. We only ask that a basic level of priority is given to the Societies and people abide by our constitutional requirements. I personally feel this is the way to move forward though of course, as with everything else, it's up for debate!

    But debate on this and the myriad other issues surrounding independent republicanism at the minute is what we need if we're to progress. Likewise as itsjustmacker rightly says education and the next generation have to be central pillars of any strategy. I hope we can find the space and the joint will to do it and sure why should an event that carries the name of such an honest, hardworking, dedicated republican as Darkie Hughes not be the ideal place to reaffirm and renew our efforts

  27. In regards to the situation in the jail. I was up there yesterday and although I spoke to both sets of Republican prisoners on the visit I saw a fear among them to even speak to each other.

    Prisoners I spoke to don't want this but must follow orders.

    It is anti-Republican and smacks of the Provos treatment of our Republican comrades in the INLA during the mid 1980s.

    However I won't go into it any further publicly but I will be continuing to try and get it resolved.

  28. Mackers,

    you must be be clearer on your points of criticism. Insinuating that one side or the other is responsible for the current situation is a dangerous course. To make cutting insights without having a full appreciation of the dynamics is a questionable approach. I don't wish to get involved in a public debate over these issues as this would run the risk of making a bad situation worse.

  29. The Brendan Hughes lecture will be held in Doire~Derry's Tower Hotel around 7.00pm on May 1st.

    More details will come later...

    It is not part of the UK City of Culture.

  30. Alec you say to Mackers that he must be clearer on his points of criticism, then you say that you don't wish to get involved in a public debate over these issues...

    What I'm saying is that prisoners on both sides don't want this. Some family members have spoken to me about it and say the same.

    Also there are questions being asked by a wide range of Republicans..I don't include SF as Republicans...over what is going on and why.

    The only answer seems to be that disunity favours the enemy.

  31. Dixie

    Re May 1st. top drawer, i'll be there for that. Do i need a disguise? lol

  32. Alec,

    there might well be a public debate whether we will it or not.

    It is often said in defence of wrong that those criticising it are not aware of all the facts. We hear this all the time by those who want to hold Martin, Marian and Damien. What it usually means is that those who raise questions don't see the 'facts' as those being challenged want them seen. Well, the only way to sort that is transparency which more often than not involves a debate in public.

    That said, I don't include you in this criticism as it seems obvious from your comments on the public not being interested in pettiness that you see the problem as one that is much to the detriment of the prison issue.

    But we can see from the type of sentiment being expressed on this topic that while I initially raised it there are many people concerned about it and want it addressed, whatever some may think about the exigencies of the moment

  33. Ardoyne Republican,

    if republicans want to talk to the Shinners it is ultimately their call. Lines of communication need to kept open to a range of players in any conflict. It is the way the thing is being hyped up that sort of draws my ire. It is a SF photo opportunity. And we know they are liars par excellent so it would be tactically useful to demonstrate the status of SF's honesty credentials from the get go.

    If SF lies why would republicans even bother talking to them given that there is more in it for SF than republicans? And if they do lie and republicans do talk to them SF will consider it an opening gambit in their favour, that republicans were so eager to talk that they put up with the insult.

    Ultimately, the last people who will be able to persuade republicans of the physical force school to desist will be SF.

  34. In response to alec...

    If all we can hope for is some united centenary commemoration then maybe we should just go home...

    you say projects are based on ideological differences?
    are you saying we should be all under one roof?

    political strategy is whats required.

    socialism is the answer, 'core principles' is too vague, and sounds alot like the tired old phrases we have been subjected to these last few decades...if we say we want a socialist republic then let us artuculate what kind of socialist republic it will be...will there be free education, free healthcare? will we tolerate the big farmers? the big business men? this alignment you speak of, would it give shelter to the millionaire publicans around the country?

    will it be a 32 county version of what we have in 26 counties?

    its not about being the dominant group, so no i disagree with you that there will have to be an alignment, whats needed is a socialist politcal strategy that makes sense.

    Brits out and the creation of a republic is the obvious stuff...the less obvious is the less articulated ideas that should make up modern republicanism.

    what we probably need is something along the lines of a 30 year plan...one that draws in the language(Ca bhfuil an teanga sa cómhra), environment, youth, feminism, socialism, and establish them as pillars of a new irish freedom movement, the army party model has exhausted itself.

  35. Dixie,

    the situation in the jail has not been caused by any external agencies. If you had more information then you would realise that much. It does not surprise me that some prisoners are unhappy but how does this lend itself to rectifying affairs. I and others have been grappling with this for a long time now.

    When I say I don't want to debate the issue what I mean is that I don't wish to get into a blow for blow exchange. There is a lot of work to be done both inside and outside to improve this unfortunate situation. Conditions on Roe House are making progress difficult for everyone.

  36. Dixie,

    at least back in the blocks there were enough of us who refused to treat the INLA prisoners any different and some great friendships were forged.

  37. Mackers,

    you can debate the issue until the cows come home but without the detail all you can do is highlight a unfortunate state of affairs.

  38. Yes, Dixie. And I was one of them.

  39. Alec,

    highlighting unfortunate circumstances is what we do

  40. There is a difference between highlighting and judging.

  41. Alec,

    you judged it once you called it petty

  42. This comment has been removed by the author.

  43. Here in Derry we have got together a group of independent Republicans; ex-prisoners and combatants and we refer to ourselves as The Big Cell. We do exactly what we did in the past in the actual Big Cells of the blocks...

    We debate Republicanism. We have no interest in forming another addition to the over abundance of groups already out there. Our purpose is solely to keep the fire of Republicanism burning within ourselves by getting out at least once a week and discussing what we believe to be right or wrong...What we believe might not in itself be right either but at least we are free to air our believes.

    Anyway there was slightly differing views on speaking to the Shinners but all believed that the shinners have no intention in using talks to pursue the interests of Republicanism.

    Secondly the situation in the prison was brought up and I saw men shaking back and forth in anger at what was being allowed to happen. Without going into all the details one name kept coming up and I have been hearing that name myself for quite some time.

    In fact on Monday past a statement was released on Facebook with that person's name on it. He is still a prisoner. That statement came with the request that it be shared.

    The statement included a piece stating that groups purporting on the outside to speak for the prisoners have no real authority to do so...

    Within a short time the statement was removed and replaced by the same statement without the above and this time it was from Republican Prisoners. Roe 4.

    The facebook page of the person who put up the statement by the individual then disappeared.

    I agree that the internet is not the place for such discussions but these discussions should take place and soon. For the sake of our prisoners.

  44. Dixie

    I will be delighted to attend the Brendan Hughes lecture in Derry, and i will encourage as many of my uni Irish History and Politics co. students to attend. But in fairness republicanism is a sleeping-pill in 2013.

    look 4ward 2c-ing-u

  45. Dixie,
    It is for all our sakes. Most people who have raised the issue on this blog I believe have done so out of genuine concern.
    Why would we want to be judgemental in relation to the Republican prisoners? Of course there are dynamics that we are not aware of but that does not man we cannot be concerned about the overall issue.
    An incident in the prison last year caused grave concern in Clonard and whilst I believe a lot of people were genuine in their condemnation it also gave the mud slingers an opening to justify not supporting a cause that they never supported anyway.
    So many people want to do so much more for Republican prisoners a show of unity, at least amongst those we know to be genuine Republican prisoners could provide a way.

  46. Fionnuala

    If there was more info and less confusion i think people would be more than happy to contribute to prisoners welfare. I don't know if there's an independent transparent outfit that a few bob can be given to. If not perhaps it's the way to go? It's not appealing to donate to one of a zillion factions whilst not having a clue WTF is going on. But general prisoner welfare is a worthy issue and a 'cover-all' possibility for ex jailbirds and the general public alike without the necessity of 'allegiance' to any group as such.

    Roll on May 1st....hoping to learn something new!

  47. Larry,
    So many people are of the same opinion as yourself.
    Apart from the overall issue of financial support there is the vulnerability factor. People want to support prisoners they just don't know what to do on this rightly called ' worthy issue'

  48. I happened to see this section of UTV Live the other night & I felt it was completely orchestrated in PSF's favour and to undermine dissidents by the focus on militant Republicanism. Also, the way that the document produced by RNU was deliberately torn to shreds, coupled with the polished reponse from Declan Kearney the programme was clearly geared to make 'dissident' republicanism void of ideology and therefore completely dependant upon militant action to get it's point accross. Furthermore, by getting Ciaran C. to say that he would speak to PSF, added the credibility that PSF were still the best option open for Republicans, even though Declan Kearney clearly said that he would speak with dissidents within the parameters of the Peace Process. I have already given my opinion on current forms of militancy on another thread so will not repeat here. However, the media focus should not ONLY be about dissident armed groups, discontent among grass roots Republicanism is much wider and covers a whole range of issues, from Ballymurphy to 'shoot to kill' etc etc. Throughout our history, militancy has always been an act of last resort in the same way as Hunger Strike has been in the jails. By tarring ALL anti GFA'ers with the same brush creates the impression that we are all void of ideas and the only option available is the militant root. That could not be further from the truth, but until a unified way forward is sought then this perception of anti GFA'ers 'throwing their toys out of the pram' will persist...

  49. I would hasten to add that in the context of this discussion it would be interesting to know if Ciaran C. was aware of what Declan Kearney had actually said in his part of the programme before he gave his response on behalf of RNU to the question of speaking to PSF.. If not then in a sense I feel he may well have been unwittingly dupped into answering YES..as with everything in the murky world of Norn Iron politics the devil is in the detail!

  50. @Fenian, the interview with Ciaran Cunningham of RNU took place a number of days prior to the interview with Declan Kearney chara. Ciaran's interview took place when after RNU launched it's new policy document; Revolutionary Republicanism...

    Rowan obviously took out and broadcast on air the words he wanted to use chara and as ever, the murky world of journalism continues...

    Having said all of the above, RNU are very confident in their political analysis/direction and don't 'fear'a debate with anyone about our way forward for Republicanism..

  51. Ardoyne Republican,

    Barney probably did the coalface work and the editing was down to somebody else. I think what people will remember from the programme is that the Shinners are offering to talk to the republicans. The next interest will be stimulated by the nature of the response.

    No matter who talks to who the end result will be a SF line that the party has tried and failed to bring about an end to PFR. Because if physical force is to end it is unlikely to result from anything SF has to say. On this Barney Rowan would make a more persuasive case himself to republicans. His argument would come without the baggage that SF would bring to the table.

  52. @Ardoyne Republican, the way that the UTV piece was constructed basically said as much..just wanted to clarify in the context of this discussion...very cynically crafted piece of journalism but not surprising in the current climate I have to admit. A face to face televised debate in the future between Ciaran C. and Declan K. would provide a more level playing field and eliminate the potential for media manipulated favouritism. However, without being over critical the former gave a much more honest appraisal than the latter and the fact that Ciaran C. wasn't sheckled by the constraints of Whitehall was clearly evident and refreshing to hear! PSF have the advantage of having the media on their side, not because of their brand of self styled Republicanism but more because of their perceived 'value' to the British establishment in maintaining the Stormont partitionist status quo. Hence why they will only meet with dissidents on their terms and discuss issues within the parameters of the pseudo peace process.
    p.s. look forward to reading the RNU document in the very near future!

  53. Mick3 posting on an earlier article probably summed up a lot of feeling:

    On the subject of what to do to help, I think the problem is very much an organizational one- had they been represented poperly I think more could have been done to further their cause.

    In days past pow groups were made up based on the prison they were in;
    today its based on the wing. Some groups cover some on one wing, some on both wings, some say they cover "independent pows" without much elaboration on who they are....etc. Could you imagine the h-block campaign being run like this?

  54. RNU is playing a tactically weak hand. It is making it look as if it needs the dialogue more than SF.

  55. AM-

    RNU need some good PR that talking
    to Sinn Fein would give them-they are going to contest the next local elections in the six and throwing shite balloon's at Alliance HQ no longer cuts it-makes them look like the flag protesters-

  56. Mick3
    Groups were made up based on the prison they were in ?
    Never heard that before. What does it even mean.
    People still belonged and aligned with their own particular group irrespective of what prison they were in. In Armagh one O/C ran the gaol and people from a variety of groups fell in with that. We all got on, granted we did not have the problems prisoners are faced with today which is why we admire the stance. But that does not mean that life long Republicans can be ignored or worse still their families ignored in the visiting area. What happened to a Clonard man last year was abhorrent and no one has ever even offered an explanation as to why it happened.

  57. Nuala,

    I think the crux of Mick3's point, if I understand it, is the lack of cohesion aided by the fragmentation. Prisons operated as single functional units whether we were in the Crum, Kesh, Armagh or Magilligan. Now they don't.

    The experience of the Clonard man you refer to was wrong. It leads to elitism, which no group it seems has a monopoly on, and then rivalries outside where people take umbrage and might therefore grow lukewarm about supporting the prisoners of the groups seen as culpable.

    This to me is disastrous for protecting the rights of all prisoners. To people like me who have great difficulty in differentiating between the groups in jail, a prisoner is a prisoner. The he said/she said arguments around republican theology don't interest me. All the prisoners should be backed when they are seeking rights.

    Fair play to you for not getting dispirited by it all.

  58. Michaelhenry,

    they could as easily talk to a PR agency who would not try to shaft them. Although, I think you are right in that SF have taken the first round because of inadequate PR by RNU in its response to Kelly.

    Moreover, given that RNU is a republican group with much enmity from the past and present existing between it and SF I doubt if the common ground is there. RNU should be offering talks with SF as part of an exercise in persuading former comrades not to implement Tory cuts or welfare reform. It should not in my view be responding to an agenda shaped by SF and only there to give SF an advantage. SF now has the initiative not RNU.

    Armed activity by any republican group is strategically futile and should stop immediately. Is it going to stop because SF talk to RNU? Not a chance. If RNU called for armed actions to stop would it be listened to? Apart from a few it won't. And as useless as armed republican actions are, the Tory cuts do much more harm to the people of the North than the spluttering attempts at armed activity.

    This offer of dialogue is all for the optics. I think dialogue is essential. Lines of communication should be open all the time and should be cobweb like, stretching in every direction everywhere and reaching everywhere. But dialogue is so important that its integrity should not be compromised by a sham exercise like this.

    And as I suggested in the article, let SF get past the polygraph first before even considering talking to them.

  59. Mackers,
    Sometimes you feel that saying what you believe to be right can sometimes make you appear all wrong.
    I think the powers that be wil playl this this out their own way irrespective of what people like us think.

  60. Nuala,

    more likely that some will try to depict you as all wrong. But one of the great satisfactions in life is having your say. If we think something is being handled wrongly we can comment on it. It seems to me that there are some things about the prison being handled wrongly. I know I am not alone in thinking this. I believe the sentiment is pretty widespread. It needs addressed. If we are about protecting prisoners' rights as we say then we have to protect the prisoner from Clonard. It's as simple as that. I don't see how it can be otherwise.

  61. Mackers,
    Exactly Mackers. Having your say rightly or wrongly can make you decidedly unpopular but I can live with that. I can live with it a damn sight more than I could with shutting up just to keep in favour.

  62. Michaelhenry

    'RNU need some good PR that talking'

    SF is being wrapped in cotton wool by the media here. For everyone else it's like the North Korea media blackout.


    Getting SF to take a lie detector test is worthless. Even if they passed it they've been fibbing through their teeth so long it's way to late for them to become credible.

  63. If the prisoners need to squabble incomprehensibly to most of us on the outside, I do feel for their families. Wives and kids getting on with life alone whilst trudging up and down to a jail. Most will probably be on the dole too no doubt making it even worse.

    Is there no way to just let the prisoners 'bitch' away there and do something constructive for their families?

  64. Larry,

    the last thing the prisoners need is to start looking like the Irrelevant Left which for so long suffocated any initiative due to an inflexible insistence on its own brand of socialism being dominant. And in the midst of those endless sectarian squabbles those involved ccouldn't see it while those outside it dismissed it as they would two bald men fighting over a comb.

    Doubtless, there are sensitivites involved and if it means handling it delicately so be it, but I think prisoners can benefit from a wider discussion of it as it should give them an insight into into how matters are perceived.


    all can have their say in the matter so it is not as if those seeking the issue of contention aired want to suppress a different view of it. However it is handled there can be no reverting to Shinner form and imposing the 'hush' rule on people. Activism always benefits from people knowing more rather than less.

  65. Larry,

    sup with a very long spoon. If they lie it will for an advantage. If they don't lie it will be for an advantage. Credibility? Nah.

  66. The next time the shinners mention talking to what they refer to as 'dissidents' an apt response would be....

    'Are they seeking to negotiate a return to Republicanism?...If so they'd need to ditch their leadership first.'