2 Hannahstown Hill
Belfast, North Ireland BT17OLT
Family fails to form real united front
Ciaran O'Pronntaigh's friend, I too looked forward
to the proposed Toome meeting (although unable
to attend because of distance),still believe there
is much to be achieved by such a meeting and wish
to" put my money where my mouth is"
by this reply. Many of the Republicans who might
attend would not accept that they "jumped
- off the Sinn Fein train", but believe sincerely
that they became Republicans in order to oppose
British rule and reach the destination of a re-united
Ireland and left as Republicans because the drivers
diverted to a very different destination of joining
a British administration and backing a British
Perhaps these Republicans comprise a" disparate
lot", but there are precedents for such meetings
and agreement. Those who attended the early H-Block-
Armagh Committee meetings, for example were clearly
divided , with People's Democracy, Trade Unionists
Against Repression, clergy, Irish Republican Socialist
Party, independents, human rights campaigners
and others who had very different political agendas
from the Irish Republican Army. Indeed Republicans
acceded on a point once thought unthinkable, in
accepting that it was no longer necessary to back
the armed struggle in order to support Republican
All agreed rules of limited joint action in which
no group compromised principles and each could
work behind the demands of Republican prisoners
fighting criminalization. On a much smaller scale
and in today's much different circumstances, Republicans
who believe that the British wish to work the
Stormont Deal to bottle up Republican opposition
within a Paisley led Stormont administration,
might well agree on common actions behind Republican
political prisoners at Maghaberry or saying no
to the re-named RUC.
It would be disappointing, if as you suggest,
Sinn Fein would ignore the opinions of such Republicans.
Are Republicans who sincerely search for the best
way to achieve Republican objectives no longer
entitled to form and express independent opinions?
Are not especially Republicans who dedicated themselves
over many years, risked life and suffered imprisonment,
entitled to be heard and respected, regardless
of honest disagreement with their conclusions?
It would be ironic, if a party anxious to find
dialogue with the British, DUP, PUP, or Fine Gael
could not respect the opinions of fellow Republicans
who disagree with the Stormont Deal.
Your article underscores a central problem with
the Stormont Deal. I would agree that Sinn Fein
wishes to end the privileged status of unionists
under British rule, so that unionists might no
longer feel a vested interest in supporting the
crown. That policy assumes that the British government
has no vested interest in staying in Ireland.
Many Republicans believe that the British wish
to remain in Ireland and will cement unionist
privilege while doling out to nationalists enough
money and positions to keep them on board. The
British maintain the unionist veto because it
serves British interests to do so. Your paper's
recent report underscoring deepening sectarian
inequality is but one more example. Republicans
long held that British rule in Ireland is irreformable
and those who join in a British administration
would become party to the injustices inherent
in that rule. Perhaps we have been right all along.
The above letter was submitted to the Andersonstown
News for publication. It has not appeared.