Dominic Óg McGlinchey: Newstalk Interview

Newstalk's Political Editor Shane Coleman (SC) interviews Irish Republican Dominic Óg McGlinchey (DM).TPQ expresses its gratitude as ever to its transcriber. 

The Pat Kenny Show

Newstalk 106-108

24 April 2014

(begins time stamp 32:00)

SC: The name Dominic Óg McGlinchey, who of course is the son of the two leaders of the Irish National Liberation Army, Dominic and Mary McGlinchey, is synonymous with Republicanism. Dominic Óg has been a leading Republican spokesperson for many years. But this week he made the front pages for a different reason by calling on dissident Republicans to start a conversation about the removal of the gun from Irish politics. Dominic joins me on the line.

First of all, Dominic, in relation to Irish politics why are you now asking for the removal of the gun?

DM: I'm actually saying to society in general you know what I ean  that we need to remove the gun from Irish politics as well as anybody - sorry t putting this  frankly I won;t be allowing myself to be used as a stick in terms of  even labeling them as “dissident Republicans” you know, at the end of the day they are Republicans at a different stage of a journey maybe than you or I. But you have to ask yourself the question at this present stage is the use of armed actions either bringing you forward, stifling you or bringing you back?

SC: And do you think it is bringing people back? Do you think it's not bringing Republicanism forward?

DM: Well at this stage there's nothing indicating to me that the use of armed actions is bringing us anywhere forward towards a united Ireland or building a Republic.

SC: You've also, I think you used the term “the mindless use of violence” - in your view have we reached that point at this stage? Or has Republicanism reached that point at this stage whereby the violence that is being carried out has no goal, has no aim, cannot achieve anything to use those terms.

DM: Well you see the big difference in violence and revolutionary violence for a start and Republicanism is a also very broad church. The mindless use of violence is hemming in your community leaving ... be it a pipe bomb on a bus or a near school or such things as that there the debate is actually a lot bigger than that. The debate needs to be brought to every household in Ireland. Because every citizen within The Republic has the right to decide how that evolves. What I'm saying is that actions that would be taking placeare  hindering that and stopping that debate from taking place.

SC: I suppose the obvious response to that though, Dominic, would be that that debate has taken place in homes across the country and what the vast, vast majority of people have said is: you know Not in my name. We don't want violence. While many of us would like a united Ireland they don't want violence as a way of achieving that aim.

DM: Well look, we don't even have our sovereignty anymore do you know what I mean? We've a budget that we have to go to Brussels to ask what's our spend for this year? We can't just look at this in a partitionist mentality. It's not just a six county thing when actually it's a national thing - it's a national question that needs to be addressed. The reality of the matter is also that we have an armed police in The North - armed gunmen on the streets. We also have President Michael D. Higgins and the Queen asking us not to be bound by our past yet we have Republicans being taken out of their houses and charged with stuff in relation to the past. So people are saying we want move on, there seems to be a certain segment that don't want us to move on either.

SC: When you're saying armed gunmen in the streets – who are you referring to there?

DM: I'm talking about armed extension of the British security forces in The North. Every person that's a member of the PSNI is armed.

SC: Again, a lot of people listening to this would say they are the police force of the state. Now admittedly, it's a state that many Nationalists aren't happy about the existence of but since the Good Friday Agreement it's a state that the Nationalist community in the main have acknowledged and there are now many members of the Nationalist community who are members of the PSNI.

DM: Yeah. There was many members of the Nationalist community that were members of the RIC. I beg to differ on ttah there but at the end of the day I come from a tradition where I'm prepared to respect everybody's point of view. I personally believe that the use of armed actions are not bringing us any further down the road.

SC: You would have been a supporter of Sinn Féin and you were a strong supporter of Martin McGuinness until 2007 and the issue of Sinn Féin supporting policing. I mean with hindsight should you have stayed with Sinn Féin? Because I mean that kind of street politics, community politics – I mean that's something that they advocate.

DM: They do and they don't. I don't really want to even touch on it if you know what I mean. Nowaday Martin claimed to be a Republican yet he toasted a monarch. To me personally I can't square that. But at the end of that day I understand that Martin probably feels that he's a Republican and every day he goes out to work that he's moving towards a united Ireland, do you know what I mean? I personally don't think that he's going to achieve that at the minute, you know.

SC: Do you feel that the “dissident”, and I know you don't like to use the term “dissident”, but do you feel the “dissident Republican” movement needs to change strategy - that's it's effectively going nowhere at the moment?

DM: You see the reality it is there's lots of Republicans outside of the main parties and small parties that actively do work every day on the ground within their communities. They wouldn't class themselves as dissidents. Dissident shouldn't be a dirty word. I mean, Wolfe Tone talked about Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. It's a media-driven hype. All I want to see is the reunification of our country. What we need is, personally speaking, is a massive debate in this country.

SC: And in dissident Republican circles is that debate going on, the kind of points you're raising about the conversation about the removal of the gun from Irish politics or would that be resisted in many quarters?

DM: What I could say to you very, very clearly is that if you look around and you look at organisations like éirígí and the IRSP and you see these organisations and they're still on the street, they're still involved they've great activism. You've got now the emergence of The 1916 Societies who don't seem to be endorsing the armed actions. So we have growth in  people development and a discussion taking place all over the place it just happens to be that  a lot of it is going on and all about what is the future of Republicanism? How are we viewed in the 21st Century? That debate is certainly taking place. You can see it on social media, you can see the discussions on political forums. That's certainly happening, yes.

SC: You mention groups like éirígí and I have to put it to you - they've had a very limited success in terms of getting an electoral breakthrough. I know we've got local elections coming up here. But they haven't had much by way of success. Is there any sign or are you hopeful anyway that that can change?

DM: I feel that would be a question, believe it or not, that would be up to éirígí. But to answer your question: Republicans are trying to organise up and down the country. I think there's up to thirteen possibly or maybe less independent Republicans talking about running in elections within The North. You have éirígí obviously standing candidates in The South. But by the same token I'm sure there are many other independents who are running up and down the length and breadth of the country who also class themselves as Republicans who are not a part of any of the major parties.

SC: Can I just focus on yourself for a couple of moments, Dominic, if that's okay. One question I do have to put to you and that's the issue of you being questioned by police and being named in court in relation to the as the getaway driver in relation to the 2009 dissident attack on the Masserene British Army base in Antrim in which two British soldiers were murdered. Can you tell us about the circumstances there and what actually happened?

DM: I don't know. The circumstances are there for all to see. At the end of the day I hand no hand, act nor part in the attack in Antrim. And it's already been fleshed out through the courts. So to be honest with you actually if you want to call ... I've talked that one to death. I've really have nothing further to say on it other than I had absolutely no hand, act nor part to play in it.

SC: You did speak in the past about how you lost your job because of those, as you would say, unwarranted allegations.

DM: Yeah but look at the end of the day sense prevailed there and I got my job back.

SC: Do you condemn those murders?

DM: I don't condemn. I'm not in the business of condemning, condemning  anything. You know I'm not going to go into the old Republican mantra but the reality is as long as the northern six counties are occupied there always will, even if it's one, whether rightly or wrongly, will be prepared to take action against the security forces. That's just plain as the nose on my face. Coming from the tradition that I come from I will certainly not be getting into the business of condemnation.

SC: But you personally believe the time has come to move away from armed Republicanism. Is that a fair comment?

DM: The fairest comment in this is – right – a friend of mine - we consistently talk about it all the time - that if you keep doing the same thing over and over and over again and you don't seem to be getting any further forward it has to be the definition of madness.

SC: And we have reached that point or Republicanism has reached that point?

DM: Maybe society in Ireland has reached that point.

SC: Okay.

DM: We keep voting the same people in over and over and over again and that's the definition of madness.

SC: Well, it's hardly comparable.

DM: At the end of the day we don't have our sovereignty that men fought and died a hundred years ago to  get us because we have the government running to Brussels where a German gets to decide what we spend and what we don't spend.

SC: Just before I let you go can I just ask you a personal question and I suppose it's an obvious question, I mean you were with both your father and your mother when they were gunned down, aged nine in the case of your mother, aged sixteen in the case of your father. That must have had a devastating impact on you as a boy and as a young man witnessing such horrific things.

DM: Yeah, see it's important as regards me saying that I would talk to, actually, actually - both need to be taken in isolation and at the end of the day people will say Dominic is using the emotionally baggage as a yardstick or as a battering ram to get him somewhere. That is not the case. I am like many, many, many other children who lost childhoods in the conflict. There's also trans-generational stuff from this state where we're not that long away from the Civil War that affected everybody. So, I am like many other children, many other families that have been affected both North and South. And I don't think that we should assign a hierarchy of victimhood or anything on it. So yes, obviously it affects you so that would be the case but I think it's very, very important to separate both. And I make my own way in the world and I want to find my own space.

SC: I did read though, and I was very taken by what you said, that you'd be happy to sit down and have a cup of tea with the people who murdered your mother.

DM: Yeah but, And it comes to the thing where, as the President said last week, people are saying not to be bound by our past. Sometimes we have to, you have to let go of it. You might need to understand it, some of it you might never ever get your head around but you don't move forward by not taking risks and initiatives. And as I've said before Republicans need to be brave. There's nothing to be afraid of. There's absolutely nothing to be afraid of. But there's no room for elitism. Everybody has their part to play as Bobby Sands said. Jim Larkin said: Get up off of your knees. Arise! We only seem weak because we are on our knees.

SC: I think that's a very fair point and I don't make this in any kind of smart-alecky kind of way but if Martin McGuinness was here now he might say the same thing in relation to, for example, your comments about raising a toast to the Queen, he would presumedly say: 'We can't be bound by the past. We have to take risks.'

Yep and that's fair enough. But as a Republican and I respect the British people's right to decide whether they want a monarchy or they don't want a monarchy. As a Republican I personally couldn't toast the Queen. And I'm prepared and have been prepared to do many things in the name of Republicanism and move the thing forward to advance the struggle, through my street activism and my party politics. But to me as a Republican I wouldn't be toasting any Queen.


DM: I'm not going to get into all of the rest. I mean, the Queen pays Martin's wages so I don't see a problem with Martin going and having dinner with his boss.

SC: Was the struggle of which as you say your father and indeed your mother were a part of was it worth it? Was it worth all that sacrifice and the sacrifice on all sides? Was it worth all those thousands of people who died in your view?

DM: Look, I'm going to come back to this: in the end of the day have we achieved what we set out to achieve? No. No we haven't. Bernadette McAliskey talked about we fought a war but the good guys lost. But to me that part of the war is over now. What we need to do is we need to, we need to move, move forward. And to be honest with you for the best part of twenty odd years I've consistently haven't answered questions in relation to both my parents and I've said all that I have to say on it.

SC: Fair enough. We've had armed Republicanism for well I suppose well over a hundred years and in the case of what's happening in Northern Ireland certainly since the 1950's on and off. Do you think we're coming close to a time where the gun will be removed from Irish politics? Are we coming close to that do you think?

DM: I sincerely hope so. But I'm going to come back to: at this present stage we have a fully armed police militia operating in The North. That's still operating. We've still got British troops stationed in the Northern Six Counties of Ireland. But to me, Republicans need to actually tap into The Twenty-Six Counties and they need to start asking those that came from generations before us to re-awaken that Republican belief that we're better off united.

SC: I do have to take you up on your use of the term “militia”. I mean that is the police force of Northern Ireland. There will always be a police force in Northern Ireland or in a united Ireland.

DM: What the people in this country need, they need a police service that is fully accountable to the people, both North and South. And we've seen that with the GSOC stuff. We see that there in The North on a daily basis with MI5 and the incarceration of Republicans on trumped up charges with no evidence on a daily, on a daily basis. It's a bit rich for some people to say that things have moved on in The North. They actually haven't. I just believe that the answer lies North and South and that people shouldn't just be partitionist by nature and thinking of The North in isolation.

SC: Okay, we'll leave it there. Dominic Óg McGlinchey, thanks indeed for joining us.

(ends time stamp 46:05)


  1. This article deserves comment ,Ive steered away from anything related to him because I was too moved by his mother’s final words. Without being dramatic, it’s kind of haunting.
    But I wish he would elaborate more on this point :

    actions that would be taking place are hindering that and stopping that debate from taking place.

    I don’t see how, given they are ultimately two different tactics. And prior to this:

    Because every citizen within The Republic has the right to decide how that evolves

    Surely this includes these people :
    as long as the northern six counties are occupied there always will, even if it's one, whether rightly or wrongly, will be prepared to take action against the security forces. That's just plain as the nose on my face.

    He lists a lot of other groups along with eirigi, so it would appear a dual approach is not an impediment at the moment, if anything these political groups are probably on a more confident footing than militant groups.

  2. This is an exellent interview.