good to talk, so lets hope those republicans
trying to build a new pan nationalist front among
dissident groups will succeed.
the only way fringe groups like the INLA and Real
and Continuity IRAs will be persuaded to disarm
in a democracy is about having freedom to chose
and the broad republican family needs to have the
choice between Sinn Feins pro-Stormont peace
agenda, and the Pan Republican Fronts abstentionist
the recent dissident attacks in Newry, the sooner
the Front can get its electoral bandwagon rolling,
the outcome of the 24 November deadline, we dont
need a generation of Provo violence to be replaced
by another generation of dissident terror and mayhem.
main aim of the new Front should be to ensure the
gun and bomb are permanently removed from republicanism.
republicans should remember their history. The Free
State Army was more vicious against de Valeras
IRA than even the ruthless Black and Tans.
is especially pleasing from a Radical Unionist perspective
is that this new planned Republican Front, which
is clearly opposed to the present Sinn Fein political
strategy, is planning to organise to oppose Sinn
Fein candidates in future council elections.
of their most articular speakers is veteran Derry
Republican Michael Donnelly. In a very interesting
interview (again, from a Unionist point of view),
with me, he outlined how any new Pan Republican
Front movement would negotiate directly with Unionists.
hope the planned Toomebridge meeting which
has had to be postponed will soon be organised
to form an alternative peace strategy to the current
Gerry Adams/Martin McGuinness Sinn Fein policy.
fringe movement the Front may be at this time, but
at least it is giving republicans a choice. Electorally
at present, its the Shinners or nothing really.
Donnelly told me it was unclear why the Toome meeting
had been postponed, but it was hoped to organise
a similar meeting in Derry in the not too distant
are some visionary comments from Mr Donnelly
from a republican perspective which those
branded on the so-called dissident wing of the republican
family should listen to and absorb.
told me: There has been co-operation between
a number of groups over the past few years. We want
a new beginning for republicans. We are not the
dissidents; Adams and his lot are the dissidents.
Donnelly said these groups included the Irish Republican
Socialist Party, the 32 County Sovereignty Committee
and Republican Sinn Fein as well as a number of
has been remarkable co-operation for almost five
years and we can work well together.
if people would be invited to the Derry meeting
who would represent the military wings of the political
groups named above, he said: There might well
be people involved in other groups. But I dont
think anyone will want to pursue the military option.
will be pursuing a political direction to establish
unity. The INLA is the military wing of the
IRSP; the Real IRA is viewed as the military front
for the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, while the
Continuity IRA supposedly holds the mantel of RSFs
purpose of the meeting is to form a Pan Republican
Front. There is a unity because all of the splits
in republicanism have been because of British interference.
There have been undercover agents in the republican
movement and this has gone on for so long.
has led the way for a long time. We want a new direction
to oppose the Good Friday Agreement.
Donnelly said any new republican party would be
abstentionist and would not take its seats at Westminster
or Stormont, but would take council seats or seats
in the proposed new seven super councils to replace
the existing 26 local authorities in the North.
will not be taking seats in Westminster or in a
puppet regime in Stormont, but we would take council
seats and that is very likely to happen in Derry.
We have supporters from Tyrone, Belfast and Derry
who no longer support the Stormont Shinners.
hope a separate republican party will emerge after
the next council elections. We would negotiate directly
with the Unionist community rather than waste time
with the British.
is no value in talking to the British and there
is little reason for this. We want to build an electoral
power base to defeat the MI5 led Sinn Fein in the
polls and dilute their power base.
Pan Republican Front would be a description of what
we want to achieve. Three or four years ago, we
had an Anti Partition League, but it didnt
take off. If we were to have electoral success,
we would take it from there.
have never had a problem dealing with Unionists.
I came from the era of the civil rights movement
and Protestants were involved in that, as well as
the housing action campaign in 1968 and 69.
The British deliberately put a wedge between the
Protestant and Catholic community, said Mr
supporter of the Pan Republican Front who did not
wish to be named also told me the purpose of the
talks would be to re-create the ethos of the Republican
Congress of the 1930s.
added: If we win seats on an abstentionist
ticket, we will have public support for a united
Ireland and we dont have to go to Stormont
for this. People voted for the SDLP to harm Sinn
Fein; now we can encourage them to vote for independent
want a republicanism which is open, democratic and
peaceful. I realise it may take several elections
before we achieve this. We want to discuss a strategy
of getting into elections and to find people who
can negotiate properly with the British. There are
people there who dont know what they are talking
it would appear, ironically, the proposed new Pan
Republican Front is trying to copy the electoral
success of Sinn Fein in the 1918 Westminster General
Election when Ireland was still united under British
rule. Sinn Fein took the majority of Irish seats,
fighting on an abstentionist ticket and the movements
victory laid the foundations for the Treaty which
I don't need to remind all you republicans the island
of Ireland is littered with memorials to republicans
executed or killed by the Free State Army.
message is simple if so-called dissidents
go back to what they love to brand as 'the armed
struggle', you can expect more Loughgall-type operations
from the SAS on the Northern side of the border.
in the event of Stormont flopping and joint authority
on the cards, the Dublin government could initiate
anti-terror laws which would make anything the British
used against the Provos seem like a Sunday School
have the right to chose how they express their views,
but they must win the day by force of argument and
electoral strength, not by force of arms and a body
emergence of the Front represents the most significant
political development in republicanism since the
formation of Provisional Sinn Fein in the early
Pan Republican Front wants an agenda of talking
to Northern Unionists rather than the British Government.
The trouble is, while you have active dissidents
around your ranks, Unionists will not touch you
with their traditional 40-foot barge pole.
again, the Front could rightly ask what is
the point in holding out any hand of friendship
to Unionists when the DUP wont do a deal with
what the Front has branded the Stormont Shinners?
and Tony are talking about a very expensive Scottish
junket to kick start the last ditch bid to save
the Executive. At this point, the MLAs have a better
chance of finding the Loch Ness monster than finding
if the Paisleyites are eventually going to sup soup
with Shinners, they will leave it until the last
possible moment in November before signing up.
what's actually keeping the Paisley camp is that
the Bill to rewrite the Good Friday Agreement may
not be passed itself until 20 November.
a Bill would be the very lifeline which DUP deputy
boss Peter Robinson needs to nudge Big Ian into
all part of their cunning plan to keep the North
on tenderhooks, keep their hill billies in check
and weigh up the odds of finishing off the well-battered
Ulster Unionist Party for good.
Stormont would mean the end of the UUP as we know
it. Word is, liberal Unionists are already preparing
a leadership challenge to party boss Reg Empey,
probably at the traditional March annual meeting
of the ruling Ulster Unionist Council.
also been a lot of gossip around North Down that
liberal Unionists want to form a new centre grouping
involving the UUP, Alliance and the not so
green section of the SDLP.
another poser emerging from the holiday recess
what have some on the UUPs Hard Right been
up to over the summer?
the real reason some Right-wingers want to re-activate
the supposedly defunct pressure group, the Ulster
Monday Club, which was once the partys secret
power base during the 1980s?