At the Bodenstown Commemoration of Theobald Wolfe Tone, Ex-POWs and Concerned Republicans Against RUC/PSNI & MI5 announced that they had decided to change their name so as to reflect current political realities. The group has decided to re-name itself Republicans Network for Unity. The Ex-POWs grouping served its purpose when Sinn Fein took the decision to support the British Crown forces in Ireland.
For those who still believe in the Republican cause, the great challenge of re-building the movement has been laid before us. The theme of the Bodentown Commemoration was unity among Republicans. The fact that this gathering was jointly agreed among a range of groups and individuals was a small but positive step in the right direction. There are many thorny issues to be resolved within Republicanism but we are confident that they will be resolved if we can build up good will among the members the republican family. We recognise that there are positive factors too: vast resources of skills and experience exist within our community, we are confident that these can be tapped in to and channelled into progressive political actions.
In the interests of building Republican unity the Republicans Network for Unity will be careful not to fall into the trap of vilifying Sinn Fein supporters, for the most part, it is the Sinn Fein leadership who are the culprits. It is our job to win back the ordinary Republican people and we are confident of doing this by winning the argument and by making our agenda relevant to our community: the working class Irish Republican community.
The recent electoral reversal suffered by Sinn Fein in the Free State has begun to show the limitations of their strategy and has served as a reality check for the more naïve who actually believe the Adams-speak that the Agreement and Stormont are part of a transition to a united Ireland in time for the centenary of 1916. We know that nothing could be further from the truth, the British occupation has been cemented for the time being – although it is not politically correct to say so in certain circles.
The bottom line is that right now, some degree of unity of mind and purpose among Republicans is essential. The Republicans Network for Unity wants to send a message out to all Republicans right across the island, to the thousands of ex-prisoners and internees, to the networks of safe houses, to people who were arrested, who protested on the streets or who put a coin into the PDF box. The message is simple: we acknowledge your contribution and we thank you, but we need your help again to ensure that the flame is kept alive and that all Republicans have ownership of it and it can never again fall into the hands of a fascist leadership.
Our experiences as Irish Republicans who have come out the other side of a protracted war put us in a position to offer advice and guidance to our young people who, we trust, will take the lead on the path to the Irish Republic Tone envisaged: one island where Catholic, Protestant and dissenter can live in harmony and, to strike a modern note, where immigrants from all nations are welcome. Irish Republicans have an opportunity to learn from these peoples, many coming out of struggle in their own countries, and to create new alliances with progressive movements on an international level.
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