Two roads diverged in a yellow wood

While Sinn Fein is on the cusp of endorsing the PSNI, reports are coming in that thousands of ex-prisoners and others are marching behind the Anti-PSNI banner at today’s Bloody Sunday March in Derry.

Independent accounts of the march from different people who were there are putting the total behind the Anti-PSNI banner at 3 to 4,000 people, by far the largest contingent of marchers today. There’s a good few in the above photo from Indymedia’s photo essay of the march.

  • Shane O’Neill

    Now that’s great to hear, as PsF try to claim almost all are behind their strategy.

  • seabhac siulach

    Strangely symbolic that the Provos should choose the weekend of the Bloody Sunday commemorations to seek to endorse the British ‘security’ forces…says it all…
    Also, deeply ironic that they should choose to endorse these ‘crown forces’ in the ROYAL Dublin Society showgrounds…
    Have they not a wit of sense?

    For the Provos, endorsing the PSNI is a logical final step to get into the reformist assembly in Stormont. They seem desperate after all to get their hands on those modest levers of power the Brits will let them have. A honey trap set especially for them…
    But, at the end of all, this reformism is not republicanism…and it will lead nowhere…
    In fact, it is enlightening to see in the latest Sunday Business Post opinion poll that Provo Sinn Fein (PSF) are down to 7% in the 26 counties, getting no bounce whatsoever for agreeing to signing up to the PSNI. Their vote has effectively halved since the surrender of PIRA weapons. All these little steps of renouncing violence, signing up to policing, speaking out against ‘criminality’ have produced the opposite effect to the one perhaps intended by PSF: a drop in support. Perhaps the voting public in the 26 counties were looking for a republican alternatives, thought they saw it for a moment in PSF, and then realised that (with the surrender of weapons, etc.) they were merely a Workers Party mark II and looked the other way…
    How else does one explain the drop in their support from 12% in early 2005 to 6/7% today…
    There is a need for a left republican party in Irish politics…PSF by their actions have shown that they are not it.

    Can it be confirmed that there are ‘thousands’ of ex-prisoners marching behind the anti-PSNI banner in Derry? If true, it will make for worrying reading for Adams…

  • Gerry & the peacemakers

    Seabhac Siulach

    I don’t suppose you’ve ever been to the ROYAL Victoria Hospital or posted a letter with the ROYAL Mail then – not the greatest argument you’ve ever put forward.

  • harpo

    Well that’s nice.

    I have a question for all the folks who blog on Slugger.

    On this big day for Provo SF, where are the bloggers who have the opportunity to give us blow by blow accounts at what is going on in that big Provo meeting?

    Slugger is here and open for business, but I don’t see any bloggers giving us almost instant reports.

    Surely given the variety of Slugger contributors, there are a few Provo supporters who are at that meeting. Surely they could be sharing their feelings and views every few minutes.

    The traditional media is giving us some coverage of what is going on. SFAICS bloggers are absent.

    Is this the limitation of blogging? That when big things happen the bloggers disappear? It’s probably simply because they are wrapped up in the actual events of what is going on, and their concern isn’t to share their thoughts and feelings. It’s not their job.

    On the other hand those from the traditional media do have defined jobs, and at big events they do them. They don’t give personal feelings and thoughts, but at least you get some reports.

    I’m sure there will be lots of people on here tomorrow telling us what they thought about prioceedings, but the traditional media will have lots of that too.

    If bloggers are to add anything to what we get from the traditional media surely they have to offer something different. I would have thought instant personal reporting would have been what bloggers can offer.

    As it is, I just see bloggers as being as reactive to events as the traditional media is. Sure any opinions given will be personal (as opposed to the corporate views of the traditional media), but the bloggers are just as slow, or even slower, as the traditional media. Any opinions that appear will appear at the same time as those of the paid opinion writers in the tradional media. And of what use is that?

  • Gerry & the peacemakers

    Also 56% of those polled for the SBP said they were more likely to vote SF if they backed policing.

    SF always does worse in polls than it does in elections – polls do not form Govts or win seats. Why not wait until the elections north and south and then we will have a better idea of where their vote sits.

  • joeCanuck

    “thousands of ex-prisoners are marching”

    thousands? to me, that implies at least 2,000.
    Are there really that number of ex-prisoners, let alone that they are all marching in Derry?
    Any chance of letting us know who is doing the counting, Rusty, and where they learned to count?

  • harpo

    ‘There is a need for a left republican party in Irish politics’

    seabhac siulach:

    Is there such a need?

    I mean, really – who wants this?

    I don’t see that any such parties ever get very many votes. They don’t appeal to the great mass of people.

    Sure they appeal to the fanatics who are always going to whine on about capitalism and British oppression, but come on. Such parties that really mean it get few votes. They appeal only to their core supporters. They have no mass appeal.

    And another problem is that even where they do exist, you don’t get just one of them – you get a whole heap of them – each with its own very specific opinion on the right way to be on the left and republican. And that means that the very small pie gets split up into even smaller pieces.

    Face it. The ROI is a capitalist country, and most people like that. The leftist republicans are barking at the moon while ordinary people are out enjoying life and making money. That’s the real world as opposed to the fantasy world of leftist republican fanatics, who spend most of their time arguing with each other over which old IRA guy blessed/didn’t bless their party. Or how their socialism is better than the next guys socialism.

    Most Irish people frankly don’t care, and can’t be made to care.

  • Harpo,

    If you want a blogging perspective unlikely to be reflected by MSM lickspittle journos – try ATW today. I’ve written a few words on the seismic moment.

  • parcifal

    perhaps the national spirit of ireland has gone:
    To quote Mishima

    At mid-day precisely Mishima appeared on the balcony to address the crowd. Shouting above the noise of helicopters he declared: “Japanese people today think of money, just money: Where is our national spirit today. The Jieitai [army] must be the soul of Japan.”

    The soldiers jeered. Mishima continued: “The nation has no spiritual foundation. That is why you don’t agree with me. You will just be American mercenaries. There you are in your tiny world. You do nothing for Japan.” His last words were: “I salute the Emperor. Long live the emperor!”

    Perhaps ireland needs a samurai awakening.

    (ever so slightly tongue in cheek response, before you think I’m barking mad)

  • Rubicon

    I heard Wendy Austin reporting from the RDS today (Seven Days) that there were just enough RSF supporters there to hold up both ends of their banner. Guess they must all have gone to /City instead 😉

  • BP1078

    Slugger is here and open for business, but I don’t see any bloggers giving us almost instant reports.

    Surely given the variety of Slugger contributors, there are a few Provo supporters who are at that meeting. Surely they could be sharing their feelings and views every few minutes.

    Is this the limitation of blogging? That when big things happen the bloggers disappear? It’s probably simply because they are wrapped up in the actual events of what is going on, and their concern isn’t to share their thoughts and feelings. It’s not their job.

    It’s a more weakness of “SF blogging” (both the actual bloggers and those who comment)that is evident today.

    More than other party (poss exception of NuLabour) the typical SF activist is petrified of putting down an honest opinion, that just may run contrary to the thinking of the Supreme, party leadership.

    Good political blogging is about gut feelings, honesty and instant reaction, that’s how it differs from journalism.

    But you ain’t going to see much of that today, “the message” will be passed down from on high and no doubt, we’ll be deluged tomorrow with the “spontaneous” reactions of the SF activists.

  • German-American

    Poor SF, I (almost) feel sorry for them. On the one hand they have republicans condemning them as traitors to the cause, and on the other hand they have unionists claiming that SF’s supposed endorsement of the PSNI is at best only conditional and at worse actively insincere.

    I recently read an article Why Hawks Win by Daniel Kahneman and Jonathan Renshon (in the magazine Foreign Policy) that discusses in-built human biases against nonviolent conflict resolution. At least two of these biases seem to be on display in the SF/PSNI controversy.

    I’ve previously commented on the unwillingness of unionists to perceive SF’s policy change as any sort of meaningful concession. I wasn’t aware that this tendency has been given a name by psychologists: “reactive devaluation.” As Kahneman and Renshon put it, “The very fact that a concession is offered by somebody perceived as hostile undermines the content of the proposal.”

    As for the marching prisoners, while I accept the sincerity of their feelings that they’ve been betrayed by the SF leadership, I think that they and other anti-SF republicans are also showing the signs of “aversion to loss”:

    People prefer to avoid a certain loss in favor of a potential loss, even if they risk losing significantly more. When things are going badly in a conflict, the aversion to cutting one’s losses, often compounded by wishful thinking, is likely to dominate the calculus of the losing side. This brew of psychological factors tends to cause conflicts to endure long beyond the point where a reasonable observer would see the outcome as a near certainty.

    In this case I’d characterize the prisoners and others not as “dissidents” (which often seems to be simply a catch-all term for anyone who disagrees with current SF policy) but rather as “rejectionist” republicans: Those who continue to pursue the strategy of rejecting the legitimacy of the current political arrangements (including the PSNI and other policing and justice mechanisms) in the hope that such a strategy will eventually lead to the desired goal of a united Ireland. It’s a strategy that has the virtue of being consistent and principled, but I think the likelihood of its succeeding is and will remain exceedingly small, and in the absence of the “aversion to loss” bias I doubt the rejectionist strategy would attract even the relatively small amount of support that it does.

  • bannedtrick

    rubicon, where is forward slash city??

  • seabhac siulach

    Harpo, Gerry

    “There is a need for a left republican party in Irish politics…PSF by their actions have shown that they are not it.”

    I mention this as PSF appear to be operating under the illusion that they can gain enough support north and south to take power in both partitionist assemblies…this appears to be their ‘plan’ (strategy, hah!) for a united Ireland…
    There is clearly a sizeable republican electorate available for any party that is able to energise it in the 26 counties. I mean, PSF rose to as high as 12% in the polls before the McCartney murder and an all-out media campaign halted their precipitous rise. We can safely say that the 26 counties is a captitalist country alright, with Fine Gael and Fianna Fail being the largest parties. Together withs the PDs these rightist parties represent roughly 2/3 of the electorate. However, the Fianna Fail vote should not be read primarily as one of strict right wing adherence. It is also the one acceptable ‘republican’ party and it attracts the votes of traditional republicans down south, witness the surge in the Fianna Fail vote after the 1916 commemorations last year. It is the ‘safe’ republican option down south. Any alternative strong republican alternative could compete for these soft Fianna Fail votes. In any case, 1/3 of the electorate fall into the leftist camp, voting for the Greens, The Irish Labour party and PSF. Those votes are available for any leftist republican party not tainted (in the minds of the all important middle classes) by paramilitarism…along with any that can be leeched from Fianna Fail.
    As to PSFs gains in the 2007 elections, it is likely that they will gain 2-3 seats, but then that is it. They will have shot their bolt…and with the retirement of their ‘celebrity’ candidates in the next few years they will surely decline much as the SDLP did with the retirement of Hume/Mallon. Where will the oxygen of publicity come from when Stormont is nicely bedded down. It is most unlikely they will ever gain power in the South, the most they can hope for is ‘power’ in the toy parliament in Stormont.
    They have been led into a honey trap partly of their own making. Stormont shall be their gilded cage…
    In the south, PSF make the mistake of attempting to be all things to all men…being ultra-vague on economic issues and afraid to articulate their liberal social views. Their anti-European views are also a large turn off. There is a need for a real republican, leftist alternative…PSF are not it, having left republicanism aside to take their places in Stormont and serve the forces of the British state…

  • Motion passed its “Yes”

  • Gerry & the peacemakers

    “By overwheming majority” according to Sky and BBC24.

  • Rubicon

    To me it’s “Derry”, in law it’s “Londonderry” but, Bannedtrick – very good question! I think the thousands must have used British maps and got lost trying to find it.

    (Any headcount stats yet? Do we need to call mountain rescue in case these thousands of ex-prisoners perish in the Sperrins?).

  • parcifal

    DUP said they would have face to face talks with SF should SF support the PSNI .

    let’s see when the 1st meeting will take place.

  • Gerry Adams looked very Socialist,statesman like, spoke from the heart, themes Equality, Women, justice, ending with a bit of Labi, “Higher they build the wall…..

    Must say I was impressed.

  • Belfastwhite

    Struck me as funny when Adams arrived today he was being heckled by both RSF and Dissident Unionists in the form of Willie Frazier and his rabble. When everyone was inside these two groups started heckling one another and it was the PSF minders who had to keep the factions apart……..a sign of things to come methinks.

  • Rory

    Would contributors please note that there are no “capitalist” countries any more than were once misnamed “communist countries”. Interestingly, but quite correctly, no state has ever defined itself as a communist state and those states so misnamed by others tended to call themselves socialist republics, people’s republics. and the like, depending on the self-perceived, if sometimes over optimistic, notion of the development of their economies and social structures.

    So we have “countries” (I prefer the more correct “nation states”)in which at any given historical period the economic order is capitalist, socialist or mixed or may indeed be feudal or mercantile, or any one of a number of different and competing economic systems. At the moment capitalism is in the ascendancy worldwide and seems likely to remain so for a time, though disaster is always just around the corner and as unpredictible as an April shower.

    p.s. In the absence of minute-by-minute, blow-by-blow blogging reports from the Ard Fheis, so lamented by Seabhac Siulach, could not he himself I wonder, have filled in those tense, empty hours of waiting by posting his own minute-by-minute gripes at this terrible derelection of the sacred duty of bloggers by SF Sluggerites attending the convention. I suppose, Seabhac they will offer some lame excuse like, “As an elected delegate, I was doing my duty to my own members and following the debate”.

    I myself was only able to prevent myself from exploding with anticipation by watching two FA 4th round cup matches and having a few drinks with friends and family before, during and after dinner. But then I was ever one for great self sacrifice when the time called for it and since I didn’t have your bulletins to while away the time, Seabhac, what else was I to do but sustain myself for any future onslaught?

  • Red Mist

    Art Hostage,

    Adams is not a socialist. He even argued againsy aligning with the Nordic Green Alliance in the EU parliament. Thankfully this was one of the few votes he lost.

  • Garibaldy

    Red Mist,

    I was told they only joined the more left group in the European Parliamebt after being refused entry to the social democratic one (with the British Labour Party etc).

    Rory, agree on the communist states thing, but nation states is totally inaccurate for most of history, and for some countries today. Thought Bolton should have won myself.

  • The Dubliner

    seabhac siulach, that’s a good post at #14. PSF’s selling socialism to the rich is like a leper selling herpes to whores. PSF’s leadership are devoid of principles, so they would have no problem jettisoning their outdated socialist dogma were it deemed politically advantageous to do so. But the complication they have in being a partitionist party which seeks to gain support in two separate states is that they have to keep unity of policies in two states which are completely different to each other. Their is no valid comparison between the north and the south in economic and social factors: one is an economic powerhouse that is the envy of Europe and the other is a basket case that depends on subsidies for survival; one is divided starkly along between orange and green, while the other is a pluralist, post-nationalist society. So, essentially, whatever policies they devise to suit the dynamics of the north are going to be irrelevant to the dynamics of the south, and vice versa.

    There is no way around that impasse except to split into two parties – and that isn’t workable either. At the moment, PSF gains support in the south for its traditional republican ethos and from a small group of disaffected and disenfranchised citizens who always support any socialist rethoric that absolves them of the blame for their own lack of success and promises them a greater share of the wealth for doing bugger-all to earn it. If PSF attempt to broaden their appeal beyond that vote base, they’ll have to have to go into the specifics and not generalities – and hence the problems of unity of diagnosis and prognosis for one patient with a healthy heart and another patient with a triple by-pass compounded by a murmur. As a quasi-Marxist party, PSF will be confined to the political margins in the south, where even mildly left-wing parties are ridiculed by a population which puts its faith in free-market economics. And if it moves closer to the centre, southern voters will despise it for its opportunism and lack of principles. Essentially, it is fucked.

    The gist of PSF’s so-called “republican strategy” is to use the unfinished business of Irish unity to position itself into Irish politics as the central dynamic by which that shared goal is to be achieved. How cynical is that? It isn’t a republican strategy at all; it’s a party-political strategy aimed at growing its support base and its own power in the south. Essentially, the leadership’s aim is to prostitute Irish republicanism in the south for party gain in the same cynical manner that they did in the north. Gerry really does believe is that old 32-county socialist republic quasi-Marxist shite, and sees himself as the great strategist who will deliver it at any cost. Sociopaths have a flair for manipulation.

    This is why the leadership of PSF betrayed the goal of Irish unity post-ceasefire by choosing a format for negotiations that could not deliver that goal i.e. where the outcome was subject to the approval of the majority of parties in those negotiations and where a majority of those parties were unionists, despite the British government declaring pre-ceasefire that Irish unity was a possibility (“no selfish military, economic, or strategic interest.”) They calculated that partition served their party-political interests, by sidelining the British government (who were prepared to discuss Irish unity) and choosing to negotiate instead with those who could not and would not offer that outcome. They chose a route where the only outcome would be a strengthening of partition, not abolition of it – and that’s the path they’ve been on since then, despite spinning deeper integration into the UK to their supporters as being deeper separation, and spinning permanence as being transition.

    Partition allows PSF’s leadership to be relevant, and the goal of Irish unity allows them (they hope) to take centre stage and grow their party’s power on both sides of the border. But like all sociopaths, they always come undone. And what Gerry has actually done is integrate the north more deeply into the UK than at any point since partition. PSF’s leadership are deeply deluded about the prospect of southern voters being overcome by the cult of personality as northern voters were – and even if they were (keep dreaming), the PoC makes the south irrelevant. What they actually see his party as now is unmitigated failures who they’d not trust with the money to buy a newspaper, never mind national interests or ‘shared’ goals. PSF’s “republican strategy” is a non-starter. They’re locked into the UK now, and that’s where’ll they’ll stay for the foreseeable future (which is nevermore than 30 years in any society).

  • Red Mist


    This is correct. They were ‘black balled’ by the SDLP from joining the more mainstream socialist grouping. Only one party needs to object and thats that. The SDLP were very public in their use of this method against Sinn Fein.

    However, I believe that Adams had argued against aligning with the Nordic/Green Alliance and his prefered option was to remain unaligned…his reason…don’t want to give our friends in the good old USA the wrong idea.

  • Garibaldy

    Red Mist,

    Unsurprising. Says more about PSF than it does about the SDLP. Wanting to be in the same group as New Labour. I can’t bnelieve anyone ever took or takes the socialist rhetoric seriously. Weird. They only got into the left group at the behes of the French CP/. Who are basically social democrats themselves.

  • confused

    Adams is moving at a fast pace .In 5 years I would not be surprised to see that once socialist revolutionary now known as Lord Adams of Gortahurk sitting at Westminster wondering where it all went wrong.
    I can tell him now——he never understood what the concept of republicanism really meant.He wanted to drive the Brits out of Ireland and as far as the Unionists were concerned they were just a bloody nuisance who could be dealt with on his terms when the Brits left.
    He supported the bombing of towns and villages on the basis that the war was justified. His hatred of allthings british and uinionist made it impossible to bring together Catholic and Protestant.
    He has made itimpossible to acheive a united Ireland.
    NI is still governed by Westminster which has sovreignty. Nothing of signifcance has taken place since 1970, so what was the last 30 years about except seeking revenge against all things British and Unionism.
    DID I say he does not understand REPUBLICANISM?

  • BeardyBoy

    You have a plethora of left wing republicans – all second rate if you ask me and you have the usual right wing nutters as well.

    What we really need is a party which gets its philosophy from someone other than Henry Tudor or karl marx.

    McGeough is the man – this is the hour go McGeough

  • Garibaldy

    I guess Mc Geough and Henry Tudor have one thing in common – both defenders of the faith.

  • BeardyBoy

    That takes the biscuit

  • Garibaldy


  • aquifer

    parcifal #9

    “Perhaps ireland needs a samurai awakening.”?

    I don’t see any of these irish separatist fractions ready to slash their own guts open with a sword to make a point.

    In an economically and politically unifying Europe any monoethnic rump may wish for their own exclusive cultural comfort zone, but post holocaust and bosnia who would be reckless enough to give it them.

  • The Dubliner

    BeardyBoy, McGeough is middle of the road? Only if someone painted the centre line on a twenty-foot wide road two feet from the right.

    What you actually need now is follow the logic of PSF’s endorsement of the GFA, abandon republicanism, and live in harmony with your fellow unionists.

    Failing that you can (a) try to out-breed them (b) pray that sashes are found to cause cancer, thereby causing unionists to die younger, or (c)* try and make a man who deems himself British to vote for a United Ireland.

    * Choose this option only if deranged.

  • Rubicon

    Dubliner – see these here Euro’s you’ve giving us – and chance of some free viagra for west Belfast and west of the Bann?

    It’s peaceful and – according to yourself – bound to be successful.

    And here was me thinking RSF hadn’t got a strategy! My bad!

  • Rubicon

    Any chance of you standing on the 7th? I’d offer to be your election agent but wonder if I could trust you. There’s thousands of ex-prisoners lost in the Sperrins looking for Derry as we speak. What do you do about it? Nothing!

    Typical Free Stater!

  • BeardyBoy


    To which road do you refer – the one to capitualisation a la SF?

    The only strategy is to convince the English that they have to go.

    The only way to do that is to turn this place into an even bigger drain on their resources.

    We should not engage with unionists at this stage but sideline them – the people with power is the English.

    Why should the unionists change their minds – they would be fools to do so, in partition they have the ball at their toe, in an united Ireland they would not, explain why this would be good for them?

    That is why the SF strategy will fail.

    As for economics, I regard McGeough as neither Capitalist or Socialist – and by that I mean his philosophy does not lie anywhere on the scale between the two.

    Pleased read the works of Belloc, Chesterton or the great Fr Fahy of Golden County Tipperary for an insight into Distributism.

    I am of the opinion that this would be more in his line, but that is a guess and he would need to verify that.

  • Garibaldy


    I suspect corporatism is more likely

  • BeardyBoy


    I would not think so. The Servile State by Belloc is one of the best writings which argue against it and its effects

  • J Kelly

    While Sinn Fein is on the cusp of endorsing the PSNI, reports are coming in that thousands of ex-prisoners and others are marching behind the Anti-PSNI banner at today’s Bloody Sunday March in Derry.

    Rusty your intro to this thread is a bit of old bluff there may have been thousands behind the banner but you cannot say for one minute that the all support the message. For years Sinn Fein, SWP, SWM, IRSP and even the SDLP Youth have been carrying banners on the Bloody Sunday March and it all down to positioning. I was at creggan shop and if there were 100 who walked onto the raod with this group they would be lucky.