Republican protest doesn’t need or seek permission

This afternoon saw a large enough gathering of republicans in Lurgan (500+ seems a reasonable estimate). For those attending their intention was to demonstrate support for republican prisoners and protest against the conditions/regime they face in gaol. It also exposed an entirely different issue, a problem that could present an increasing challenge to the Parades Commission, PSNI, Stormont Justice Minister and the Assembly as a whole.

The first large scale republican challenge to state structures on parading came with éirígí’s protest against the British Armed Forces homecoming parade in 2008. They didn’t apply for their protest march and the PSNI prevented them proceeding more than a few hundred yards.

Since then we have seen groups like GARC also reject the Parades Commission as a route to protest and engaging in miltant action without approval or permission.

Today’s protest in Lurgan saw the biggest challenge yet from republicans to the northern state’s ability and right to legislate/police their parades and protests. As republicans from various groups (definitely not SF*) gathered to support republican prisoners, no permission was sought or gained. The PSNI in huge numbers attempted to restrict where the gathering marched but did not make (or were unable to make) an attempt to prevent it taking place – beyond stopping one bus of supporters over claims of a baldy tyre.

This will inevitably annoy many with Loyalist marching organisations but who really expects 100’s of dissenting republicans to care about state structures and restrictions on their right to protest and oppose? This is the kind of republicanism we saw for decades and while others may have left the confrontational approach behind they and the organisations they support will increasingly have to decide how to deal with those that refuse to conform.

*UPDATE Some SF members are confirmed as supporting/joining the parade. Unsure if this was in an offical capacity.

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  • joeCanuck

    will increasingly have to decide how to deal with those that refuse to conform.

    Prisoners or protesters?

  • Nothing new here, Mark, loyalists have also held parades and other public events without seeking permission from the Parades Commission. It’s not so long ago that we saw Gerry Adams (Strabane?) in the company of marchers in paramilitary garb.

  • AlanMaskey

    Mark: Your post seems to be more about sticking it up the RUC/PSNI/RUP and letting us know that Lurgan hosted hundreds of Republican no compromisers today than in actually highlighting the position of the prisoners and if there is light for them. I don’t think either I or the Holy Father in Rome would be too impressed by this. Dp you want my help and that of the Holy Father?
    Are these gigs for Republicans only or can concerned citizens (who don’t want a baton or a few days in the slammer) tag along? During the H Block (and let’s not forget Armagh to keep the feminists happy, we even roped in Protestants, so help me God.

    Dopn’t expect the Holy Father to speak out for them in September if the main gig is not human etc rights.

  • Mark McGregor

    Alan,

    You are free to submit a blog on what you see as interesting – or add it in the comments. I’m not a propogandist, I just picked out an element I thought noteworthy.

  • Cynic

    “I’m not a propogandist”

    …. of course not

  • Mark McGregor

    ha

  • Cynic

    “He’s not a propagandist …… he’s a very naughty boy”

  • Cynic

  • Rediculous! you do not smash up your toilet facilities and then claim you are being abused because you cant use the toilet. I have some sympathy with those prisoners who can actually claim to be political, but whenever I think of abused prisoners I think abhu Graibh, not Ireland, or even the UK. The days when that claim worked are gone. Now its just silly.

  • AlanMaskey

    Many things are interesting. The most interesting things are those that will work. Over the next few days, I will be planting roses in 6″ layers of pebbles. Will it work or am I just sticking it up the neighbours?
    Will these protests work? Work in sticking it up the RUC/PSNI or work in getting the prisoners a better deal?

    I was heavily involved in the H Block campaign getting arrested on numerous occasions. I remember a copper saying to me: You think Bobvby Sands, MP. I think Bobby Sands, OT.

    Let me put it another way. Without some kind of mass support, the prisoners are fucked. Many of them have done quite a few years already. Demographically, they are like the Provos’ afterbirth. They lack criticial mass, media nous, the broad appeal.

    I feel bad about that as I seem them and people like McKevitt left holding the Provo baby. And the Provos are really in the way much like Fianna Fail in the long ago days in the South.

  • Ranger1640

    Gerry is again attempting to be the only voice of republicanism in Ardoyne with his offer to talk to the Loyal Orders an offer that has been taken up by the N&WBP&CF.

    However allegedly he obviously does not speak for all republicans. Now we have unconfirmed reports that Sinn Fein members took part in the parade in Lurgan. Its starting to look like is not even speaking for those in his own party “allegedly”.

    With the alleged contempt the dissidents have shown for the shinners and the likes of Bobby Storey. Ardoyne on the 14th of August will be interesting.

    However I an not convinced, I think its a new stage in the evolution of the republican movement.

    I think they are moving to, the dissidents in one hand and the ballot box in the other.

    Just in time to screw more concessions out of the Unionists.

  • Hard hat

    Did many travel to the march by train?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    500 protestors…….Im impressed.
    Thats almost as many as 501.
    But a bit like streaking…….in your own bathroom. With the curtains drawn. In the dark. At 3am

    Not that impressive and nobody really cares that it was illegal.
    Permission was not sought or obtained.
    And the PSNI couldnt be arsed to make an arrest.
    Another opportunity for martyrdom denied.
    What callous horrible people these PSNI are.
    “SS RUC” was the rallying cry 40 years ago.
    But in 2010 the new chant goes up “Police Are Actually Quite Pleasant”.
    Somehow its not as catchy.

  • Cynic

    Only 500 attended? Were the other 10 away camping with all the Boy Scouts Gear they stole from the Enterprise when they tried to burn it in Lurgan or has it already been traded for fresh supplies of Bucky?

    “What did you do in the war of Liberation Daddy?”

    “Robbed Boy Scouts”

    “Were they evil Proddy Boy Scouts Daddy?”

    “Well, no. They were actually Irish Boy Scouts but they were travelling North at the time”

    My Daddy…the war hero

  • To catch the wider media spotlight, one does either need to be super smart and/or mad and bad and dangerous or have a legitimate beef which is not just a vanity exercise.

  • Skintown Lad

    “who really expects 100′s of dissenting republicans to care about state structures and restrictions on their right to protest and oppose?”

    In the sense that nobody expects criminals to respect the law, no-one.

    Aside from taking that one piece of bait, its a pretty transparent ‘angle’ you’re taking here Mark and Slugger is suffering badly from your angling. You can’t tell me that rubbish you wrote a few days ago about prisoners who choose to smear faeces on themselves was not a warm-up for this march.

  • AlanMaskey

    The fear in the fascist and anti Republican posters here is almost palpable. I doubt McGregor is trying to muster support among the chattering classes here and both the Republican community and your hospice carers would be surprised if you hobbled out of your retirement home to “defend the defenceless”.

    Dissident republicanism is very much a rudderless ship. This is fine if you believe yourself a Moses type figure, being guided by Our Lady of Knock to the Promised land, which is full of milk and honeys and no Orangies. It must be a lot tougher to beleive in if you are languishing in a British hell hole with no one but Rory Brady and his relatives and inlaws to cheer you on.

  • Skintown Lad

    You consider yourself just one of the chattering classes, do you Alan?

    It’s perfectly natural to ‘fear’ people with no respect for law and order. We’re all just hoping they don’t find that rudder any time soon.

  • A N Other

    Whilst the nostalgia of the Kilwilkie estate, fuelled by cheap beer, crisps and pizza, may still dream of a world filled with leprachauns, faeries and fair Cailins; the world outside the misty window has sadly moved on. Why don’t they get on a bus and go and protest outside the homes of some property speculators in Dublin, or better still, outside the homes of some Limerick drug dealers. The Republic has been sold down the river, whilst these self-indulgent, ignorant fools puff up their chests and seek the attention that they never had as children.

  • Munsterview

    Since rank and file Fianna Fail members marched in H Block hunger striker demonstrations in the south in significant numbers, why should it surprise anyone that some actual Sinn Fein members marched in that demonstration up there where the concerns and feelings about prisoners are much closer to hand?

    I do not agree that further armed struggle can achieve anything……. at this time, but I also think that there should be full and immediate political status for those imprisoned. The longer that it is denied the more of an issue it will become and the more non aligned individuals, especially young people, will get involved in the demonstrations.

    If in prison, screws are acting like the ‘good old days’ and the police are demonstrating that they too have forgotten nothing from the old policing tactics, then it is only a matter of time until both state forces create the circumstances, if they have not already done so, where shooting members of these forces will be tolerated by sufficient numbers of the Nationalist community to create a very dangerous escalation!

    We have just got off this particular merry-go-round, are we to sleepwalk back on it because of Whitehall policy by men sitting behind polished tabled hundreds of miles removed from the havoc they are creating on the ground in the Six Counties.

    Political Prisoner status is a small price to pay for political stability. For those on the republican side who want to continue confrontational street politics, this is a one trick pony that never fails to perform, and with good historical reasons. If I were visiting up there, I would have joined that march as the issues per se override any use or indeed abuse of these issues by any party.

    The time to act is limited, one dead prison officer and all sides will get entrenched into far more rigid positions, will somebody with some shred of sanity act now and remove prisoner conditions from the equation. Christ knows there enough left to be getting on with but none a likely to cause widespread community instability!

  • “Respect for law and order.”

    Mmmmmm, that would be the same respect the English director of public prosecutions showed to Ian Tomlinson’s family.

    The reason some folk get so bitter when Mark posts up threads like this, is because you understand mighty oaks from little acorns grow. Instead of howling like hyenas, you might be better to demand the prison service reach a sensible compromise which addresses the prisoners concerns. Something which incidentally would take the wind from their sails.

    But hey, why bother when we can all revert to type and attempt to rerun the past.

  • co down man

    too much is being looked into this, im sure SFmembers/supporters did march, its an issue of human rights and how prisioners are being treated, as well as this, the march is being described on facebook as a ‘national rally’ whereby ‘patriots from all over Ireland turned out’ it is after all only 500 people.

  • Charminator

    Nothing unusual about this. It’s another phase in the cycle of Irish Republicanism since partition.

    Consider: FF enter politics, remnants of original SF resist. Provisional SF recognise Southern State, Republican SF resist. PSF recognise Northern State, these people protesting in Lurgan, Eirigi, etc resist.

    The simple point is that the group that is resisting ‘progress’, the ‘status quo’ (call it what you will) now is the smallest its been, in terms of people, and the most marginal, in terms of popular support, for a very, very long time indeed. That’s why the Stormont Justice Minister, the Assembly, etc must behave responsibly. Don’t play into their hands: they’re searching for a martyr or an event to spark a new lease of life.

  • redhugh78

    Hey Mark et al,
    anything to say on Willie Hunter the double murderer of two catholic brothers being the employee who was re-instated at ASDA? now if he had of ben an ex Republican prisoner Mick and Pete would have been cock a hoop.

  • Skintown Lad

    “Respect for law and order.”

    Mmmmmm, that would be the same respect the English director of public prosecutions showed to Ian Tomlinson’s family.”

    Yes, it would. I understand he followed due process and was hamstrung by two conflicting experts’ reports.

    And I notice you didn’t mention the PSNI (more relevant as its closer to home) who have shown this month just how unjustified is the violence towards them. The prisoners are criminals – no amount of historical bagage can usurp the present peace that is being enjoyed by everyone except those who believe there’s still a war on.

  • Neil

    Was wondering about that. Would be a good idea to have a suggestions box for stories that aren’t picked up. I was also looking for bloggers email addresses so I could fire one off suggesting some story or other that might be blogged, but couldn’t find your emails.

  • Hard hat

    Off-topic, I know but perhaps we could get a list of all murderers, track them down to their current employment and demand that they are all sacked. We could include public servants like politicians and community workers. Are you up for that? Should we exclude anyone?

  • AlanMaskey

    http://saoirse.info/current/jun10.pdf
    saoirse is in sparkling form, arguing about splits, claiming direct descent from 1916, picturing Rory Brady in Sweden, lots of photos of old dears and of stout Republicans marching in open defiance of the RUC/PSNI.

    I am glad I am not a CIRA prisoner.

  • OldSod

    Why should violent criminals who are politically motivated, be treated any better than criminals who are financially motivated, or alcohol motivated, or just recreation-ally violent motivated? What if these politically motivated criminals have maybe 30% to 40% of some of these other motivations?

    I also can not imagine what is so terrible with the current political institutions or constitutional status, or whatever, that warrants police officers to be torn apart by explosions under their cars, or gunned down while dropping their kids off to school or shot waiting for the traffic lights to change, or why unarmed soldiers getting a pizza deserve to be machine-gunned while injured lying on the ground,…. let alone the pizza guy.
    Seriously, what comparable evil is going on that justifies or matches this?

    So if I don’t support violent republicanism, I support the forces of law and order (Gardai and PSNI), I recognise the Republic of Ireland in it’s 26 county form,… I recognise the Northern Irish government at Stormont and I support the GFA …. does this mean I (and majority of other people on this island) am a Quisling castle-catholic west-brit, or am I just brainwashed by pro-imperialist capitalist propaganda? Maybe I just need to be “awakened” by some blood sacrifice or martyrdom?

    Should I not become “awakened”, does this mean I will be put up against the wall and shot “come the revolution”.
    I would like some clarification on this.

    Also, when these 500 people at the protest (who are obviously the only people who are not traitors to Ireland in the country) who are the lawful successors to the first Dail (or whatever) take over,… are the rest of us for the chop?

    While we are on this subject,… how are people arrested or captured by CIRA/RIRA etc treated,… are they treated as political prisoners? Did the last fella who was abducted by the RIRA have to “muck out” before he was tortured, tried in a kangaroo court, shot and dumped in a country lane?
    Have the Dissidents considered any “less than lethal” weapons like water cannons or tasers for their “actions”?

  • “Yes, it would. I understand he followed due process and was hamstrung by two conflicting experts’ reports.”

    Skintown

    Do you really believe the above, do you know anything about this case. No one was hamstrung, the DPP head could have brought a holding charge of ABH or even assult, whilst further evidence for a more serious charge was collated. He refused to do this knowing full well the police officer who is on video committing this crime, had to be charged with certain offences within a time frame.

    As to conflicting evidence from experts, that is a red herring as the doctor the coroner inexplicable delegated the task of carrying out the autopsy on Tomlinson, had been removed from the home office list, Dr Freddie Patel the doctor in question has a long history of negligence and double dealing in favor of the police and was due to be brought before the BMA for giving sweet hard reports which concurred with police evidence.

    His evidence to any unbiased jury would not be worth a dime. A weird form of law and order you seem to believe in.

  • Benjamin

    Superb post! The overwhelming majority of people in Northern Ireland want to live prosperous, happy and law-abiding lives. A return to the 70’s & 80’s is unthinkable and the tiny minority who seek to take us back should be opposed.

  • spige

    Amen to that Benny boy!

  • AlanMaskey

    Why should violent criminals who are politically motivated, be treated any better than criminals who are financially motivated, or alcohol motivated, or just recreation-ally violent motivated? There is precedent galore for this.

    What if these politically motivated criminals have maybe 30% to 40% of some of these other motivations? And for this.

    I also can not imagine what is so terrible with the current political institutions or constitutional status, or whatever, that warrants police officers to be torn apart by explosions under their cars, or gunned down while dropping their kids off to school or shot waiting for the traffic lights to change, or why unarmed soldiers getting a pizza deserve to be machine-gunned while injured lying on the ground,…. let alone the pizza guy. Obviously some others do and those others are part of a political pattern, one that should not be directed at the whim of Messrs McGuinness et al.

    Seriously, what comparable evil is going on that justifies or matches this? Best to put this rhetorical question to the great grandv godfather who wil lgive you their stock answers, the same ones that have been wheeled out since about 1970.

    So if I don’t support violent republicanism, I support the forces of law and order (Gardai and PSNI), Sometimes there is too much law and order. There certainly has been in the past and some have liked to dish it out in huge quantities.
    I recognise the Republic of Ireland in it’s 26 county form,… I recognise the Northern Irish government at Stormont and I support the GFA …. Good for you.

    does this mean I (and majority of other people on this island) am a Quisling castle-catholic west-brit, or am I just brainwashed by pro-imperialist capitalist propaganda? Maybe I just need to be “awakened” by some blood sacrifice or martyrdom? A bit of all of these.

    Should I not become “awakened”, does this mean I will be put up against the wall and shot “come the revolution”. I doubt it as there would be a long queue.
    I would like some clarification on this.

    Also, when these 500 people at the protest (who are obviously the only people who are not traitors to Ireland in the country) who are the lawful successors to the first Dail (or whatever) take over,… are the rest of us for the chop? That was not the case in the past. In the past, the British civil service continued. Business as usual.

    And yes, Old Sod, your post was funny. But these guys are so easy to ridicule you cannot expect massive kudos there. Most of the hsots agianst them are cheap shots. maybe they do not deserve higher forms of ridicule.

    While we are on this subject,… how are people arrested or captured by CIRA/RIRA etc treated,… Often not very well. Here, they follow the PIRA form.

    are they treated as political prisoners? Did the last fella who was abducted by the RIRA have to “muck out” before he was tortured, tried in a kangaroo court, shot and dumped in a country lane? Strongly doubt it.
    Have the Dissidents considered any “less than lethal” weapons like water cannons or tasers for their “actions”? As you may know, their hits are substantially less than the Taliban. Or the INLA or OIRA for that matter.

    Even Saoirse in its own warped way acknowledges their problems. But they are a historical force that must be dealt with. They are symbols of recent historical injustices.