Eastwood would talk to Dissident Republicans

Interesting interview with the Irish Times with Brian Rowan speaking to the SDLP Leader, Colum Eastwood.

The interview focused on security issues and how best to deal with the threat posed by dissident republicans. Speaking to Rowan, Eastwood said;

I would go anywhere and speak to anyone if I thought it would save one life

He continued arguing;

If Irish history shows us anything, it’s that a security response alone won’t work. That means we have to constantly take on and confront the ideals and ideas that fuel their continued existence.

Eastwood set out the challenge;

That is particularly important for those of us who are Irish nationalists, from the Irish Government, leaders of political parties, right down to street level. The dissidents have to be made to understand that it is today’s Irish people, North and South, who stand in their way. In reality their fight is with us, not the British government.


David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs

  • Dan

    no harm to him, but when he has carried their coffins, and stated that he never gave the cops information about them, a willingness to have a chat with them isn’t much of a surprise.

  • ted hagan

    I’m afraid their whole existence is more to do with their loathing of Sinn Fein and what they see as a sellout rather than any ideals which they must know by now are unobtainable by violence. There is nothing to negotiate on. The forces of law and order, backed by all parties, must operate at this stage, otherwise the Belfast agreement is nonsense.

  • For the benefit of clarity, on Slugger if no where else, Brian Rowan quotes others in that Irish Times report who make similar points

    Peter Sheridan, a former assistant chief constable and the highest-ranked Catholic in the history of the force, has also said a dialogue with dissidents to end violence would be “a risk worth taking”.

    Now chief executive of peace-building organisation Co-operation Ireland, Mr Sheridan said: “Those engaged in extreme violence have to be made to realise that their aims are unattainable by violent means.”

    Calling for “a collective effort” by Catholic, nationalist and republican leaders, he added: “We need to avoid a strategy that is built on cliche and sweeping generalisations, a strategy that simply takes the view that ‘it’s good to talk’. If dissidents aren’t willing to talk, then it raises the question: is it only killing for killing’s sake?”


    Róisín McGlone, an independent member of the Northern Ireland Policing Board, believes the possibility of talks should be explored. “If it is about stopping violence and killing why would we not try? . . . What have we to lose from doing that?” Ms McGlone asked.

  • ted hagan

    Any negotiations involve compromise. What is there to compromise on, prison releases? It won’t wash. There’s only so much leeway or else you are asking for trouble; and a backlash.

  • Jollyraj

    Why not? He talks to Sinn Fein, doesn’t he? And the dissidents are seemingly mostly made up of those other former PIRA members – the ones who didn’t get fabulously expensive tailored suits.

  • Ernekid

    Would these dissidents have any interest in talking to Eastwood though? They’d probably find that overseeing their criminal pursuits in the drug trade and fuel laundering, than talking to a fairly junior politician with little real influence in the grand scheme of things.