opposed to the PSNI held a public meeting in a
Toomebridge hotel on Thursday 14th December, 2006,
under the banner of Concerned Republicans to discuss
of the main organisers, Willie Gallagher of the
Irish Republican Socialist Party, the INLA's political
wing, said one of the items for debate was putting
up independent republican candidates in the expected
7 March Assembly elections.
candidates, he said, would stand on a manifesto
of non-endorsement of the PSNI and would be anti-Good
Friday Agreement and anti-St Andrews Agreement.
Gallagher said both the SDLP and Sinn Fein had
been invited, but in the days prior to the meeting,
he did not know if the parties would send representatives.
this stage, it is difficult to know how many people
will attend the meeting. We have sent invitations
to all parties, but so far only the IRSP and the
32 County Sovereignty Movement have said they
would encourage Sinn Fein to come to the meeting
and talk to the wider republican community,
said Mr Gallagher, who said previous meetings
organised by SF were only for yes men.
allegations of threats against the SF leadership
by so-called republican dissidents as absolute
and total rubbish, Mr Gallagher added: Sinn
Fein should not endorse the police force. We are
looking at the possibility of putting up independent
republican candidates to protest at any Sinn Fein
endorsement of the PSNI, but this has not yet
are also looking at encouraging republicans to
destroy their votes as a protest. We want to put
forward the republican position how can
a republican endorse a British police force?
Gallagher said the attitude by SF towards the
Concerned Republicans group was to try and stop
the haemorrhaging of SF members and prevent them
joining up with Concerned Republicans.
leading IRSP man said more public meetings to
discuss policing were planned in the New Year
for Strabane, Derry and east Tyrone.
want people to come and voice their concerns and
seek out alternatives to policing. If they have
ideas on these topics, we want to hear them. Any
police force needs to get the full support of
is a myth that endorsing the PSNI will bring law
and order to the North's streets. We in Concerned
Republicans would be proposing schemes similar
to community restorative justice, and community
neighbourhood watch schemes, where the implementation
and ownership of policing is community owned,
said Mr Gallagher, who added similar schemes had
operated in loyalist areas.
another high profile independent republican, Mickey
Donnelly from Derry, stressed the main purpose
was to get people together and connecting.
are many people coming to the meeting with no
ties to any party and this will give them a focus.
They're coming together as a forum. There has
been a strong suggestion of getting independent
republican candidates to stand.
have always been in favour of abstentionism because
of the dangers of getting caught up when seats
are taken. People do need a focus. Such candidates
would be challenging Sinn Fein, but if elected,
they would not be taking their seats. Whilst they
would be independent republicans, it would be
better if they stood under a possible banner.
want unity within republicanism. It has been split
for many years and it has allowed people like
Adams to take control. We want more democracy
and freedom of thought.
for the short-term aims of the Toome meeting,
for the first time in 30 years we would not have
secrecy and we would have freedom of thought.
is the possibility Northern Secretary Peter Hain
could postpone the March election until May or
even the autumn of 2007 should both SF and the
DUP face a significant electoral threat from rival
anti-deal candidates from the Concerned Republicans
group and the staunchly dissident Unionist UKUP
led by North Down barrister Robert McCartney.
within Unionism, an anti-deal pressure group,
calling itself the Voice for Democracy Umbrella
Group and made up of victims' groups, marching
organisations, political parties, community groups
and churches, has been established.
claimed a recent critique of the St Andrews Agreement
produced by the group had unnerved DUP policy
appears to be attempting to galvanise dissident
Unionist opinion in much the same way the anti-Belfast
Agreement pressure group, Union First, operated
within David Trimble's Ulster Unionists.