A: Examine their consciences. Take a good look at what is going on. If they agree - ok. If not then speak out." - Fourthwrite interview with Brendan Hughes
Dominic McGlinchey Interview: Saying What Needs Said
TPQ features an interview that the republican Dominic McGlinchey gave to Connla Young of the Irish News.
Well known in anti-agreement circles Dominic McGlinchey has been a staunch opponent of Sinn Fein's political strategy. But with "little appetite" for armed conflict, the republican activist asks whether the time is right for an end to armed struggle as he urges "conversations" to take place on the future for militant republicanism.
A prominent opponent of Sinn Fein’s political strategy has said there is “little appetite” for armed conflict in nationalist communities in the north.
In a rare interview Dominic McGlinchey urged those opposed Sinn Fein’s strategy to hold a 'conversation about the future of the republican movement' and 'question the integrity of those standing beside them'.
His comments come after a period of intense debate within anti-agreement circles about the merits of various republican paramilitary campaigns.
In recent weeks a number of other high profile anti-agreement republicans, including former Provisional IRA hunger strikers Gerard Hodgins and Tommy McKearney, have said it is time for armed republican groups to “reconsider” their campaigns.
Mr McGlinchey believes republicans have little to fear from making tough decisions.
'Republicans have shown they are well capable of taking decisive action against the British,' he said.
'That’s not something that they need to prove and nobody is saying you shouldn’t do this or do that.'
Born into a staunch republican family from Bellaghy in south Derry, Mr McGlinchey’s decision to enter a public debate at this time will be viewed as significant.
There are currently several active republican groups including the IRA, Oglaigh na hEireann and the Continuity IRA.
The IRA, which was formed as after a merger between the Real IRA, Republican Action Against Drugs and independent republicans in 2012, and Oglaigh na hEireann have been particularly active in recent months.
Although he keeps a low public profile, Mr McGlinchey is a well-known figure in anti-agreement circles.
Speaking last night the father-of-three said that in some cases “armed action” was being used to 'stifle republicanism at the present time. It’s not that you are asking republicans to give something up, it’s not a matter of giving something up,' he said.
"It’s a matter of being pragmatic and astute about where the battle is at and where it needs to be brought. Republicanism need to be aware of where it sits and the battles that are opening up in front of it and if certain tactics are holding you back from entering a new field of battle."
The 36-year-old left Sinn Fein in 2006 partly because of its support for policing in the north.
He later joined republican socialist party Eirigi before resigning from that group in 2009.
He remains opposed to Sinn Fein and believes support for the party 'is support for British rule in Ireland and the administering of British rule in Ireland'.
In 2012 Mr McGlinchey was questioned by police about a Real IRA gun attack which claimed the lives of two British soldiers in Massereene in County Antrim in 2009.
He strongly denies any involvement in the attack and believes his name was connected to the ambush by 'the British media, MI5 and (PSNI) special branch'.
The Co Derry man believes there is little support for a paramilitary campaign in nationalist communities.
“I don’t believe the appetite exists among the people,” he said.
"That’s not to say there is not considerable support among certain segments of republicanism for particular types of resistance, but what is very clear is that the appetite is not there for a full blown campaign. Never has the groundwork been done for a campaign like that to be launched."
Mr McGlinchey says that republican groups must answer to the people they claim to represent.
'As republicans we say our loyalty is to the Republic and the people make up the Republic and our loyalty has to be to those people,' he said.
"For us to enforce rather than to persuade and debate and bring the people with you on a particular road map, what sort of Republic would we have at the end of it all?
There are those involved in a process who have already delivered us to one surrender and they have no right to deliver us to another surrender."
Mr McGlinchey is of the view that republican 'activists on the ground need to have an understanding of what they want'.
He said the activities of republican paramilitary groups do not constitute a sustained “campaign”.
He urged anti-agreement republicans to consider alternative methods to further their aims and reject any romantic notions about the Provisional IRA’s campaign.
'Resistance is good,' he said.
"But it doesn’t mean you have to be running around with an Armalite in your hand.
You can’t refer back to the "good old days", the fact of the matter is there was nothing good in it.
I am 36-years-of-age and I never saw the IRA walking the streets. There was a resistance movement but the IRA were on the back foot."
As a child Mr McGlinchey saw both his parents being shot dead in separate gun attacks in Co Louth.
His father Dominic, a former INLA Chief of Staff, was gunned down in Drogheda in February 1994 by gunmen who have never been apprehended.
His mother Mary, also a former senior member of the INLA, was shot dead in her Dundalk home in January 1987 as she bathed the then nine-year-old along with his brother Declan.
Again, her killers have never been caught.
Mr McGlinchey says alternative ways of expressing republican politics should not be dismissed by hardliners.
'There are hundreds of ways to expose the status quo for what it is,' he said.
'Through civil disobedience or not recognising institutions. Republicanism cannot be viewed as a one-trick pony, there needs to be a proper analysis of where it is at.'
The former Sinn Fein man believes that conversations about the future of militant republicanism can be held privately.
'I don’t think republicans need to say they are calling a halt,' he said.
'It’s clear that as republicans you have a duty to reflect, gather your thoughts and analyse our strategy. There needs to be a conversation about the future of the republican movement.'
He revealed that hardline republicans have already entered into a “period of reflection” but that efforts to move away from violence are opposed by elements within the British security establishment.
'MI5 and the security services have moved certain people from our streets that are of a more moderate persuasion to stifle that,' he said.
'The security forces, MI5 and British intelligence have a vested interest in keeping things going.'
He also believes that at times in the past British “agent provocateurs” within the Republican Movement have steered its direction.
'Whether we like it or dislike it at the minute the Brits are controlling both sides of the argument, or certainly have major influences in terms of both sides of the argument,' he said.
Mr McGlinchey believes the in recent years 'republicans are trying to swim in a dirty pond and there’s not even enough oxygen for anything to breathe in it never mind grow'.
He says this has been demonstrated more so in Dublin where hardline factions have descended into a “gang structure” whose members “masquerade as republicans”.
'There’s been too much sacrificed just to be lost on a gangland in Dublin or a corrupt person in Belfast,' he said.
"We are now many, many years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and the name of republicanism, especially in the 26 counties, has been trailed through the mud by people who should never never ever been allowed on the bus. There needs to be a crdible middle ground."
The South Derry man says militant republicans have encountered tougher challenges in the past.
'We have been shot by our own, hanged by our own, hanged by the Brits, we have been raped and beaten by the church and starved by colonialism – there’s nothing in this world we cannot face,' he said.
'By taking a step back you actually do move forward. You need a bit of luck, but you can’t have luck if you don’t have a plan.'
Mr McGlinchey is convinced the time is right for him to speak out now.
'We were told to go and sit in the corner and that’s not acceptable any more,' he said.
"I say this with the greatest respect to every other activist of my age, but it feels like I have lived five lifetimes within the Republican Movement. And all of my life I have been told you need to watch what you say and where you say it, everybody is out to get you.
You have a duty I think to say what needs to be said - what’s on your mind. Republicanism is a very noble and just thing to be involved in. Republicans also have a duty to do the right thing, to stand up and be counted and when that time comes to be honest about where it’s at."