Paul McGlinchey, who will be standing against Martin McGuinness in Mid-Ulster, has given an interview to the Ulster Herald. His nephew, Dominic Og McGlinchey, has not ruled out standing as a candidate in West Tyrone. Gerry McGeough is standing against Sinn Fein in Fermanagh/South Tyrone. And the IRSP is set to endorse a candidate from Strabane at their Ard Comhairle this weekend. Willie Gallagher spoke to the Strabane Chronicle about the upcoming election and Concerned Republicans. Both interviews follow the jump.
Ex-members set to challenge Sinn Féin
BY RONAN McSHERRY
TENSIONS within Sinn Féin over the policing issue are threatening to bring major electoral challenges across Tyrone constituencies. Members of the staunchly Republican family, the McGlincheys of South Derry, are set to challenge their previous comrades in West Tyrone and Mid-Ulster. Gerry McGeogh, a former IRA activist from Killeeshil, is also set to stand against Sinn Féin for Fermanagh-South Tyrone inthe Assembly election on March 7.
Speaking to the Ulsterherald, life-long republican activist Paul McGlinchey confirmed he will stand as an Independent candidate in Mid- Ulster if Sinn Féin endorse policing and take their seats on the policing board. McGlinchey is a former blanket man and brother of the murdered INLA leader Dominic McGlinchey. His entry into the election race would put him in direct opposition to Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness.
McGlinchey said, “I will be running in Mid-Ulster providing the assembly elections go ahead. I was a member of Sinn Féin until last month and resigned because of their current policing strategy. Once SF endorses policing and the judiciary, whatever way they package it and sell it, they are copper-fastening the six county state within the United Kingdom. I am not anti-policing per se, and we need law and order, but I would want an all-Ireland police force.”
The decision to put up candidates was taken at a meeting of “Concerned Republicans” held in Toomebridge at the weekend.
“I have yet to speak to any Republican, including ex-prisoners, that is endorsing this pro-PSNI agenda,” said Mr McGlinchey. “None of them are for it. I also know a lot of people in the party who are hanging on to see what happens at the Ard Fhéis and that will probably tell a tale.”
Mr McGlinchey served 15 years in prison for paramilitary activity.
“I personally have invested too much of my life in all of this just to turn my back on it and stay at home,” said Mr McGlinchey. “I kept putting my argument within the party but was getting nowhere with them. I realised the direction they were going and could not be a part of it. It runs against every vein in my body.”
Paul’s nephew, Dominic Óg McGlinchey has not ruled out the rumour that he is considering going forward on an anti-policing ticket in West Tyrone. Also speaking to the Ulsterherald, he said, “Numerous people have approached me to run. I am totally against the Sinn Féin stance on policing.
“Some people talk of being ‘sold out’ but I see it as being ‘sold short.’ There is a big difference between the two.”
The son of the former INLA chief-of -staff, Dominic McGlinchey emphasised that if he were to throw his cap in the ring come election time, “it would not be just to stop Sinn Féin getting a seat.”
He added, “I have left-wing values and would bring those with me too. I left Sinn Féin a number of years ago because of the direction they have taken and their acceptance of Stormont rule and the British iron hand still in force.”
Gerry McGeogh who previously served jail sentences in Germany and the US for IRA activity has also voiced his intention of standing in Fermanagh-South Tyrone. A former Sinn Féin ard comhairle member, he accused the party leadership of “having shown no backbone”.
“Sinn Féin are making embarrassing fools of themselves. This grovelling nonsense must stop.”
Strabane man to stand on anti-policing ticket
BY MICHELE CANNING SMITH
WITH West Tyrone already a hotbed of controversy on the ‘will they, won’t they’ March Assembly elections, it has emerged that an independent Republican candidate may well throw his hat into the lion’s den in this constituency. That’s the word on the ground from the Irish Republican Socialist Party, who revealed to the Strabane Chronicle yesterday that a Strabane man has put his name forward for contention.
Endorsement for the Independent Republican candidacy will go to an IRSP Ard Comhairle meeting at the weekend.
Moves have been afoot by the Concerned Republican group – a coalition of what many regard as disaffected Republicans – to infiltrate Nationalist strongholds in a bid to challenge Sinn Féin on its policing agenda.
Already, members of the staunchly Republican McGlincheys of South Derry, are set to challenge former comrades in Tyrone and Mid-Ulster. Paul McGlinchey, a member of SF until last month, says he will enter into the election race in direct opposition to party chief, Martin McGuinness.
Gerry McGeogh, a former IRA man from Kileshil, is also set to stand against Sinn Féin in Fermanagh/South Tyrone.
The Chronicle this week spoke with Willie Gallagher, a leading member of the IRSP, on his party’s position, and how a series of meetings has led to a political attack on mainstream republicanism. Those meetings, which began in August last year, came as result of a call by a local man, Eddie McGarrigle, at a commemoration in Derry calling for a healing process within the diversity of Republicans.
That initial call has culminated in a decision by a group of Republicans to stand for election. They include disaffected Sinn Féin members, the IRSP, the 32 County Sovereignty Committee and independent republicans, all opposing the Good Friday Agreement.
During a series of meetings, the hugely contentious issue of policing was the ‘political thing in town’ and proved to be a gathering force for the group.
“There was unanimous support within the grouping that there should be public opposition to any endorsement of the policing and judicial system.
“The policing issue really was when Republicans had to wake up and smell the coffee.
“Republicans that I have spoken with, who once supported the Good Friday Agreement, now reject it. One said he deeply regrets endorsing it.
“As far as we are concerned, the Good Friday Agreement is a pacification process to give up Republicanism.
“The IRSP has always believed that the Agreement was a copper fastening of partition.
“But once the Agreement was signed, we believed Republicans were trying the political road and giving up the use of an armed strategy.
“The INLA was convinced to go on the same road.
“The IRSP focused on building up the party rather than overturning the agreement.
“Now Republicans are being asked to endorse the police and judicial system.
“As this debate has gained momentum, members of the Concerned Republican group decided to stand as independents.
“There will be a IRSP Ard Comhairle to see if our party will endorse support for these candidates.
“The feedback is that there is a strong possibility that most constituencies will put someone forward.”
Mr Gallagher confirmed that there is a local man who has expressed a wish and that will be considered at this weekend’s Ard Comhairle.
“As Independent Republicans, they oppose any endorsement of the PSNI. The policing issue has forced the hand of Republicans.
“Some of these people until a month ago were members of Sinn Féin.”
Mr Gallagher said he believes there is a very strong feeling of opposition gathering across the board to any endorsement of the police or judiciary.
“Sinn Féin would say this is a stepping stone to a United Ireland.
“But it’s a reformist strategy and it is impossible to negotiate away political policing under the framework of the GFA/St Andrew’s Agreement.
“It is a simple exchange of principles to go into power with the DUP, nothing more, nothing less.
He said he believed the SF leadership has misread the depth of feeling among republicans on the issue of policing.
“Overall, I feel it is possible that Sinn Féin could become the third largest party because of protest votes going to independent Republicans.
“This has taken on a momentum of its own and has acted as driving force on the policing debate.
“We are viewing this in the long term. Republicans, from a fair region of diversity are getting together to debate and discuss tactics, strategies and alternatives to the Good Friday Agreement, which has failed Republican objectives.
“It is very clear within the group that it is an unarmed strategy.
“I did say at the first meeting that was called that I believe that even with an amalgamation of groups such as the INLA, Real IRA and the Continuity, that an effective military campaign against the British could not be achieved at this juncture.
“No-one in the room spoke out against that.”
Asked whether he believed that voters would opt for what many see as a group on the very sidelines of mainstream political parties, he said, “Can someone tell me the difference in voting for Sinn Fein and voting for the SDLP.
“I can see a situation where people will be comfortable in supporting these Independent candidates.
“They are traditional republicans.
He adds, “It would be wrong to sit back and do nothing about the endorsement of policing and the criminalisation of the Republican project.”
He concludes his interview by setting the scenario: “If Gerry Kelly takes up the Minister of Justice portfolio, will he sign the arrest forms on behalf of the Historical Inquiry Team?”