“More debates:” The alternative republican strategy for a united Ireland?

Mairtin O’Muilleor and Gerry McGeough traded verbal punches in Hearts and Minds tonight. The lively discussion follows another public meeting organised by dissident/ disaffected republican factions in Derry and comes ahead of a series of such meetings being held by Sinn Fein.
The most telling feature of the discussion was an interchange between Noel Thompson and Gerry McGeough who, when asked about his alternative to the Sinn Fein political strategy, evaded the opportunity to outline an alternative strategy. On policing, McGeough suggested that he’d only ever support policing in the north if it were an all-Ireland service, continuing that what was needed now was ‘more debate’- would that it were so easy…
McGeough remains an interesting character, by far the most articulate of the dissident all-sorts putting their heads up in time for the election campaign.
But he shares the twin common traits of the republican disaffected/ dissident: namely, an inability to marry principle with the pragmatic and an utter blind spot for reading nationalist public sentiment.

On the former, this is becoming clear as the variety of republican micro groups jockey for position in the run up to this election. Already a number of INLA/IRSP aligned candidates have come forward, whilst the oldest dissident grouping (CIRA/ RSF) appear less open to the idea of putting forward candidates. Gerry McGeough’s strident right wing views have already caused other dissident groups to state they will not be supporting his candidacy.

On the latter, McGeough appears as a character deeply caught up in his own hype. On the Hearts and Minds programme tonight, he suggested that there was a “de facto rebellion” within republicanism at the moment and used the fact that the various dissident/ disaffected groups mustered a gathering of several hundred in Derry to back up this assertion.

But it was in his awkward response to the issue of policing that McGeough’s greatest problems can be found. After proudly stating that he’d only ever support an all-Ireland service, he quickly backtracked to suggest that certain crimes (rape/ child abuse) could warrant engagement with the PSNI- until nationalists had their “own forensic labs” (?!) and could only suggest more debates as a means of devising an alternative republican strategy- in the absence of providing one himself.

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