Long runs the Naomh Séamas Fox?

I’ve previously noted a row between the St James Community Watch and SF that played out in the Andersonstown News.

In recent editions of the paper a similar row has been revealed through reports, letters and texts.

This time the dispute centres on having ex-prisoner and former IRA Hunger Striker Bernard Fox speak at the opening of a commemoration garden. Local shinners seemed to have worked to remove him from the speaking list and it has generated a fair bit of controversy in the local West Belfast paper. I’m not sure what has been at the core of all these problems (well I am) but suspect Bernard’s willingness to be seen and speak at éirígí events (though he’s not a member) and the fact he doesn’t support SF means their local structures are attempting to attack him and anything he is associated with. Community responses don’t seem to support his sidelining…

(Links etc below the fold)
A Former hunger striker is claiming that he is being “vilified” by Sinn Féin after being told he won’t be speaking at the opening of a local commemoration garden.

Four members of Sinn Féin were proposed by local Sinn Féin members so obviously for some the Garden was not beyond “party politics”. Bernard Fox was also proposed by other members of the Committee, because he is a veteran republican who knew the people on our plaques personally.

Power struggle in Saint James’?

From the texts pages:

Sinn Féin, take a red face and a serious step back. If the people of St James’ voted for Bernard Fox to speak at the opening of the garden, then so be it. Why are Sinn Féin denying these people their democratic right? Or is it that Bernard is more popular than Gerry and co?

I’m an angry resident of St James’. I can think of no better man to address the memory of our dead than Bernard Fox. Tell me, is it because he can see that Sinn Féin is leading people into accepting British rule in Ireland? The people’s hearts are with you Bernard! “If you strike at, imprison us, or kill us, out of our prisons or graves we will still evoke a spirit that will thwart you, and, perhaps, raise a force that will destroy you! We defy you! Do your worst!” Was James Connolly talking about Sinn Féin? Arise!

Please print this about the St James’ commemoration garden. I myself was in jail with Bernard Fox and what a great man he is. Nobody in the area could lace that man’s boots. I know because I still fought for a united Éire when I got out of jail. Do yourselves a good thing and let the men who are men carry out what they want when it’s good for the area. The main speaker has to be Bernard, that’s what the area wants. Thank you.

I know Bernard Fox, he is too humble a person to have an ego. Just catch yourselves on, Sinn Féin.
on the side of right

Re: commemoration garden article. Why didn’t your reporter just ask the simple question of Sinn Fein: Why did you not want Bernard speaking?
sT james’ RESIDENT

  • Brownie

    [Play the ball – edited moderator]

  • paddyjoe

    The sinners have made a serious error of judgement on this one. i know bernard as a quiet and unasumming man and not an egotist as the sinners are trying to porttay him. He is also very popular not only in st jamess but further afield. Anyone i have spoke to on this issue have come down firmly on bernards side. It has also been allegad at this meeting that bernard was accused of “not being a true republican” by a certain ceasefire soldier who could not lace bernards boots. If this turns out to be true then the sinners in st jamess may as well disband because their credibility in that area will go into meltdown. It seems the sinners are taking a leaf out of george ws book. “IF your not with then your agin us” Personally, i think they underestimated bernards popularity. i guess only time will tell but after bernard did a leaflet drop in the st jamess and rock streets nearly 2 weeks ago i expected thr sinners to counteract the issues bernard raised. So far, not as much as a whimper. Normally, such a well oiled machine would have reacted by now. Are they hoping if they ignore this big issue it will go away? Not a chance. Bernard must be allowed to speak at the gardens opening. Will the sinners back down or will they risk at least a generation of votes in st jamess disappear?

  • Paul McMahon

    As a Republican who agrees generally with the present strategy let me say that Bernard Fox is a person who has dedicated his life to the advancement of Irish Republicanism and whose personal integrity is beyond reproach.

  • Ulick

    I also know Bernard as do most of the older SF activists. He is held in very high regard by pretty much everyone I know. Sounds like this Brownlee person is off on a solo run – hence paddyjoe, your “well oiled machine” hasn’t raised a “whimmper”.

  • picador

    All this nonsense about who or what is a ‘true republican’ is a complete farce that would bring the Judean People’s Front into disrepute.

  • picador

    Who needs saints when you can have secular martyrs?

    It is like religion without God.

  • Brian MacAodh

    The behavior of SF on this is shameful. How could they have the audacity to try to force him out is beyond me…I wonder how many people want to put a bullet in Gerry Adams head who once believed his crap about “not giving up a weapon until the British withrawel”

    However, I am not surprised.

  • ? ! ? .

    i wish it was next week so i could read the next thrilling installment of the atn on marks thread!

  • iluvni

    How many Irish people did this man kill during his career as an ‘Irish patriot’?

  • picador

    What’s with the cúpla focal anyway, Mark?

    Why not just say the St James’s fox without dragging the Irish language into your ‘struggle’?

    After all, it’s not like Saint James is some kind of indigenous place name.

    If you really want to use Irish you could try learning it.

  • Mark McGregor


    Fair point. In my defence, its the name of my son’s football team and I’m in the habit of seeing the English and saying the Irish.

  • groundhog day

    this is very much along the same lines as what’s happening in tyrone


    and in ardoyne (see previous thread)

    something has shifted in the republican community. i’d say that the “traitor” slur has backfired. its now psf that are being shunned by the tradtional republican heartland. the split that gerry and co have worked so hard to avoid is happening.

    it was inevitable. you cannot comnplete a revolution by adopting constitutional politics. they have been sucked in to the system to the extent that they can’t help but alienate those who support the true principles of republicanism.

    their strategy has failed, time to stand aside and stop with the charade.

  • picador

    true principles of republicanism.

    What would those be then?

    Liberty, equality, fraternity!? The rights of man!? Democracy!?

    Or gun worship, necrophilia, and nationalistic chauvinism based on religious confession?

    True republicanism – don’t make me laugh!

  • groundhog day

    the true principle of republicanism, whether you agree with it or not and whether you agree with the tactics republicans have used, is the belief in the creation of a republic to replace the status quo. It rejects the reformism of constiutionalism.

    Are you suggesting that all those who left the ranks of PSF are into gun worship and the rest. You can slag the revolutionary, but not the revolution!

  • Mark McGregor


    Or gun worship, necrophilia, and nationalistic chauvinism based on religious confession?

    Who are you accusing of this? Tyrone NGA? Bernard Fox? Somebody else?

    Its a strong claim on a thread that has mentioned a limited number of individuals and organisations.

  • picador


    Any of the ridiculous JPF type factions who are self-important enough to proclaim themselves as the inheritors of ‘true republicanism’.


    The true principle of republicanism…rejects the reformism of constiutionalism.

    Absolute rubbish. Your are confusing a principle with a tactic. And as for strategy ….

  • groundhog day

    the significance of this development cannot be understated. the easter orations and the importance that republicans place on their fallen comrades in general is huge. if ever there was a barometer of what is happening within the republican community this is it.

    it also shows you what the provisional movement has become when they throw their weight around in an attempt to control events like this. their claims to be a democratic organisation are as much in tatters as their claims to have a strategy to obtain a united ireland.

    the growing rejection of psf will have as much to do with people being sick of being bullied and lied to as any idealism, although i’d say the two are inextricably linked.

  • groundhog day


    i’m not confusing tactics with the principle.

    republicanism as a principle, at least in ireland, has always been about rejecting reform and constitutional politics and pursuing a revolutionary approach. that is what has set it aside from other forms of nationalism. the stoops believe in equality liberty and fraternity, but they’re not republicans.

    any attempts to have a republic through adopting either the british or irish free state political constitution will result in something short of a republic. the tactics are part of the principle.

  • padraic

    [i]the easter orations and the importance that republicans place on their fallen comrades in general is huge. if ever there was a barometer of what is happening within the republican community this is it.[/i]

    Very well said.

  • picador

    republicanism as a principle, at least in ireland…

    Isn’t that an oxymoron?

    What you are describing is what I described above: gun worship, necrophilia and chauvinistic nationalism based on religious confession. The adherence to republicanism is merely incidental.

  • picador


    the growing rejection of psf will have as much to do with people being sick of being bullied and lied to as any idealism

    I agree 100% with this. But I have no wish to be bullied and lied to by a new generation of super-Provos.

    It is the underlying ideology which is bankrupt. Make a cult of the gun and bullying and lies is what you will get. Sands spoke of the ‘laughter of the children’ but he was wrong. Revolutionary republicanism has eaten its children.

  • groundhog day


    republicanism in ireland has always been revolutionary. revolution is not a tactic though, it is a principle.

    republicanism isn’t any more about the cult of the gun than the defence of a militarised state. It was the british who the introduced the gun to irish politics.

    The underlying ideology of revolutionary republicanism is exactly what is turning people away from the provisionals in search of a new way forward. it is hardly bankrupt, it has plenty of political currency left. It is the provisionals who are morally and politically bankrupt as they turned their back on their own principles.

    they made the same mistake that you’re doing by thinking that revolution was only a strategy.

  • picador

    revolution is not a tactic though, it is a principle.

    The cult of the gun.

  • groundhog day

    you can be a revolutionary without a gun

    however, see newly opened threat 😉