Republican prisoners – meeting and protest clash but no clash

As a meeting was held on republican prisoners in the Conway Mill (chaired by Maura McCrory with contributions from Peter Corrigan, Fr Raymond Murray, Carál Ní Chuilín,  Maura Fitzsimmons, Gerard Hodgins and Brenda Downes), Republican Sinn Féin gathered for a protest march from Dunville Park to Castle Street on the same issue.

RSF in their tradition of not engaging with broad fronts did not attend or officially contact the organisers of the much larger meeting in Conway Mill and I doubt they expected support with their policy on (not) cooperating with other groups. However, despite the smaller turnout guaranteed by the policy of themselves absolutely alone the march from Dunville Park to Castle Street seems to have been permitted to proceed without any PSNI interference regardless of the fact they openly declared they would not be asking for permission (and did not) from the Parades Commission.

ADDS: CIRA prisoners clearly have probelms with the group that met in the Conway Mill as the following extract from their statement read at the RSF march shows:

It is with deep regret that we have become aware of a campaign to undermine the Republican Movement and by doing so to undermine the POWs. We wish to state Republican Sinn Féin and CABHAIR have our full support and confidence and that no other bodies outside of the Republican Movement represent our views or have the right to speak on our behalf.

Though some are reading this as a comment on a supposed change in the leadership of the CIRA and alleged outworkings across RSF, Saoirse etc.

Adds further: while it is not clear if the statement was attacking the group meeting in Conway Mill or refering to internal issues there seem to be issues within RSF and the CIRA. As reported by the Irish News:

The most hardline elements of the Continuity IRA has staged a ‘coup’ to take control of the dissident group. Republican sources last night said that the ‘old guard’ of the organisation’s so-called Army Council had been ousted and replaced by younger activists, who are commited to stepping up its military activity.

It was suggested that more recent recruits, as well as some long-time members, had acted because they feared that the ousted leadership was “not increasing activity”…..

….”We now want to take control of the (Saoirse) paper and the whole of the Republican Sinn Féin organisation. They will be told to evacuate their offices in the very near future.” the sources said.

Also this extract from a press release signed by Des Dalton, Fergal Moore, Geraldine Taylor, Joe O’Neill, Josephine Hayden, Líta Ní Chathmhaoil, John O’Connor, Peig King, Richard Walsh and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.

Having failed to disrupt the Republican Movement from the inside, the advocates of a so-called “Broad Front” now attempt to do so from the outside.
In keeping with our mandate from successive Ard-Fheisanna — at which these people were overwhelmingly defeated — we shall not yield to threats nor shall we give up our offices and our newspaper to an unrepresentative group.

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  • So that’s what the noise was. All I could hear was “What do we want? [Unintelligible reply] When do we want it? etc.”

  • Mark McGregor


    I assume the reply was ‘political status’.

  • joeCanuck

    It isn’t going to happen, Mark.
    To give such status would be to admit that there is unfinished “political” business. Not only will the Government not agree to that, neither will SF.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I quite like the phrase “Ourselves Absolutely Alone”. Frankly I dont know the difference between CIRA and RIRA.
    Am I right in saying CIRA is related to RSF.
    and RIRA is related to the post 1998 people?
    But theres an element of hypocrisy with them.
    They can assert they wont engage with anyone but they will still reap the benefits of any beneficial change in prisoner “status”.
    But in those circumstances I hope mainstream Republican politicians and assorted interested parties with a proven track record of decency (Fr Murray for example) treat them at their own game and say “Fair enough…go it alone”.
    I suppose RSF consider it a massive insult that the PSNI couldnt be bothered to arrest them. HOW VERY DARE THEY? The Ice Cream Van Approach to Policing. Mr Softly Softly so to speak.
    Which leads me to believe the incoherent chant was
    “What Do We Want?”
    “Police Brutality”
    “When Do We Want It?”

  • Mark McGregor


    I agree completely. Political status or even something close isn’t going to happen.

  • Mark McGregor


    I’d agree that RSF probably hoped their march would be prevented rather than permitted to proceed with such small numbers (50-100 depending on who is giving the figure).

    The two times they prevented éirígí marching or proceeding to a public assembly give that group more beneficial propoganda space than allowing the gatherings would have.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Yes I think youre right. And the number I heard was over 100.
    ut in part its generational.
    I always get the feeling that RSF is “older” and “more stubborn for the sake of stubborness” and frankly hard to actually talk to. Maybe thats just me.
    The post-1998 crowd are easier to talk to (although in fairness that might be the personality of the individual or me).
    Id be curious…seriously…if thats a general feeling.

  • joehickey

    I think the prisoners statement was directed at Des Long former (Vice Pres RSF) and the Limerick/Mallow/Listowel/Ennis (and those alluded to int he Irish news story mid week) who broke from RSF on 30th April.

  • Mark McGregor


    When they won’t engage with other republicans that either support prisoners or even support armed struggle – it isn’t just you that can come to that conclusion.

    They clearly have a big internal block against any form of conversation outside their group as the last release added above shows. (though that statement does seem to demonstrate some within that small group are challenging the long held isolationist stance)

    While the purism can cement and bond those involved in their ‘project’ it seems destined (and demonstrated) to also ensure its further stagnation and diminishment.

  • Westsider

    They won’t get political status and the calibre of those inside will ensure that – as ordinary crims in for kidnapping and robbery – they don’t have the fibre for a long drawn out dirty protest or hunger strike.

    The RSF stance offers an important insight into the mindset of these people – there’s nothing really the mainstream republican movement can offer them that would satisfy the egos and bloody-mindedness of the dinosaurs and young misfits involved in that group.

    And as for a realignment within the ‘political’ front of dissie groups, or even their military arms, I think the people involved negate against that. They are driven by ego and paranoia – and are ripe for manipulation for whatever black ops the spooks decide to use against them.

    What a shower.

  • Cynic

    Family feuds are always the worst. Still, at least they have stopped arguing over 1921

  • hodgie

    has any other grouping ever been so insular they self-isolated themselves to extinction?

  • meiltire

    I was thinking of the Stickies. RSF seem to be heading in the same direction.

  • The above meeting which I attended was extremely successful and has highlighted the ongoing abuse of political prisoners in Maghaberry by secterian and racist staff.

    The same type of screws who are represented by the equally secterian Prison Officers Association or POA who have been found guilty in many Court Cases over the years of direct involvement in the sadistic beatings of defenceless prisoners.

    The Campaign to expose these thugs and achieve dignity and basic human rights will grow in the days and months ahead until Republican prisoners are given the same conditions the hunger-strikers achieved in 1981.

  • Seán

    60 coming down the road, I was stuck in traffic and was able to count them. I’d guess 100 coming back up.

  • Westsider

    Any reason why my comment from yesterday is still held in moderation?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The Campaign to expose these thugs and achieve dignity and basic human rights will grow in the days and months ahead until Republican prisoners are given the same conditions the hunger-strikers achieved in 1981.

    Sounds good. When do you intend to start running election candidates, a la 1981, to show that the public support your objectives ? I’ll not hold my breath – methinks you’ll hold back because you know you’d lose.

  • Political group mentality is interesting, if the Trotskyists are anything to go by, and some of these republican groups remind me of them, (the splits not the guns) the smaller a group becomes, the more splits take place.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I think youre right. The smaller the group, the bigger the personalities. The more splits.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    My position is that people are sent to prison “as a punishment” not to be “punished”.
    I have not been overly impressed by Theres a difference and its not semantics. the attitude of POA spokespersons down the years. Both their reps and I must add the Police Federation seem like dinosaurs in the New Order.
    Clearly Political Status wont happen but if the “Prisoners” are to make any progress at all they need to stop talking to themselves and the usual suspects outside the usual loop.

    Nobody outside the usual loop is concerned because they dont have the sympathy in 2010 that Bobby Sands and the rest had in 1981. So they need to engage with people who hate and detest everything they stand for and are still prepared to say these no marks have “rights”.
    With honourable exceptions very few of the people in Conway Mill and none of the RSF marchers think that the prisoners are actually criminals at all.
    There is no hope for progress therefore while they cant break out of that professional protest syndrome.

    If I was at Conway Mill yesterday and mentioned that some prison officers have been convicted of sectarian mistreatment of prisoners (which is correct) I would have been cheered to the rafters.
    If Id mentioned that the convicted of heinous sectarian or violent crimes (which is correct) I would have been lynched from the same rafters.
    If Id mentioned my honest opinion that convicted and remand prisoners at Maghaberry should be treated decently and that it is my fervent hope that theres a lot more of them enjoying good treatment…..probably not a good idea to have said that either.
    In other words this campaign based on perhaps an element of “humanity” is up the usual cul de sac of dissident republican nihilism.
    Not that such people are big on “humanity” but they dont have the brains to see they need the support of the very people that they hate.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    oops some gremlins
    “if Id mentioned that the convicted prisoners have been convicted of heinous sectarian or violent crimes I would have been lynched from the same rafters”

  • West Sider

    Again – where is my comment?

  • Pravda

    The Conway mill meeting was a resounding success with members of the RNU, IRSP,PSF, Eirigi, 32CSM & even RSF in attendance. Many like myself who travelled to Belfast were not dissapointed

    I passed the RSF demo on the way down the Falls & it was a sobering looking sight but i did manage to remind myself that I was actually gazing at the de jure personification of the rightful Dail. I did notice that the de jure Taoiseach & TDs took the form of a few spides in tracksuits. & 3 chain smoking ladies of a certain age.

    I was reliably informed that Castle st as their choice of destination was very much bingo orientated & was synchronised with the first game of the day in a city centre hall….

  • Argosjohn

    “Also this extract from a press release signed by Des Dalton, Fergal Moore, Geraldine Taylor, Joe O’Neill, Josephine Hayden, Líta Ní Chathmhaoil, John O’Connor, Peig King, Richard Walsh and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh”!

    Are any of these under 70 years of age? They think they are ohlding on to the candle the same way a fossilised Crusader did in one of the Indiana Jones movies. Truly ridiculous.

    I guess from their perspective, there are some good assets worth fighting over. It is all too depressing/laughable. Pity the prisoners.

    And for the scoffers: there have been very capable splinter groups in the past. The splinterng comes from the nonsense that is at the core.

    OBradaigh is a former school teacher, the rest were never anybodies, except re the positions they had in their crew.

  • West Sider

    Need to flag this: I posted a comment last night, but for some reason or other the Slugger team decided to hold it in moderation for over 24 hours.

    Can they explain why?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Yes but the problem the campaigners for the prisoners and the apologists for the dissident prisoners have is that its not 1981.
    And it never will be again.
    in Nationalist/Republican areas in 1970s there may or may not have been support for either the Hunger Strikers or the broader Republican Movement but the campaign spoke to the entire (nationalist) community in a way that this nonsense doesnt.
    Back then everyone knew someone who was er “involved” knew a prisoner, a sister/brother of a prisoner, had been to school with, worked with prisoners etc.
    Above all every child was aware of the nuances of every republican group…..Provo, Sticky or INLA …now frankly even an anorak like me couldnt be arsed to know whos who and whats what.
    Been There……Done That.
    Who actually knows any of these “prisoners”?
    Well obviously their relatives, apologist bloggers and the like but who in the Real World has ever heard of them apart from the odd individual.
    Bottom line 1981…..people cared. A LOT of people cared.
    2010…people care. Not very many.

  • West Sider

    Pretty much your own grouping, bubba.

    They won’t get political status given that they’re in for ‘crimes’ like tiger kidnapping and robbery – and most probably drugs related offences.

    They don’t have the fibre to embark on a long drawn out dirty protest or hunger strike – they’ll want their Sky TV and other creature comforts back pretty sharpish as that is the type of people they are.

    Try getting the folks in republican areas behind them when their ‘crimes’ are made public. It’ll be like trying to get them all behind a joyrider whose killed a kid. So, good luck with that.

    The RSF contingent which causes you so much angst are like a mirror to the other disparate groupings who expend so much energy on trying to corral and paradoxically alienate the others – they are only interested in how their little sect features in the next news bulletin or article in the Tribune.

    They don’t have a strategy – and they have egos and paranoia – so are ripe for infiltration.

    How does failure sound or taste? You need to think about that – cos that’s where this is all headed.

    And I can’t wait for the pictures out of Maghaberry with all the armed robbers, kidnappers and druggies with beards and long hair – trying to repeat histpory as farce.

    Trying to appear as the new Bobby Sands – people will choke or puke.

    Youi’re now in the mix – I hope you can cope.

    note to Slugger: forget my previous held in moderation post – this’ll do…

  • hodgie

    Youi’re now in the mix – I hope you can cope.

    is this (another) threat?

    as regards the prisoners in maghaberry, nobody is asking you to like them or agree with them. but they do have a right to treated as Republican prisoners, and the POA no more has the right today than they did in the H-Blocks to victimise and brutalise prisoners.

  • West Sider

    Not a threat, though I can understand your paranoia given the circles you move in.

    So, let’s see a popular movement spring up in support of these prisoners.

    I note you didn’t pick up on my point about what they are in for?

    Are you in favour of robbery and kidnapping?

    You should tell people if that is the case if you expect and campign on honesty from others? Are those the type of prisoners you are campaigning for?

  • West Sider

    And why do you not reveal what they are in for when you make media statements?

    Do you honestly believe that those people living in republican areas will back people who would kidnap and terrorise them?

    Who would subject them to armed robbery?

    Is that republicanism? Is that what you would see as republicanism?

    Are those crimes acceptable, no matter how traumatising they are to those on the receiveing end? Does rape come next?

    Are you like the Catholic church – hiding behind filthy piety – excusing the abusers of children, like dissies would excuse the murder of children at Omagh and wherever else this will certainly happen given their strategy?

  • West Sider

    You also say they have a right to be treated as republican prisoners…

    So, what crimes are allowed and what crimes aren’t?

    Child murder – okay.

    Tiger kidnapping – okay

    Armed robbery – okay.

    Child abuse (in the form of punishment attacks) – okay.

    Sounds like your form of republicanism is something many people would live without.

  • Hedley Lamarr

    “Are you in favour of robbery and kidnapping?”

    Irish Republicans have been involved in armed robbery and kidnapping for a very long time, before Bobby Sands’ time and after. I suppose they see both of the above methods of fund-raising as legitimate. I suppose paramilitaries engage in this type of fund-raising as they also believe there is no obvious alternative.

    The United Nations describe “kidnapping” as a method of warfare that differentiates “terrorists” from legitimate “soldiers”. There are other tests to differentiate soldiers and terrorists but there are a lot of very grey areas. For example if an organisation has a coherent structure and hierarchy, if they wear uniforms, carry arms openly, if they have disciplinary proceedings etc. Not all of these factors need to be met, however.

    As for the prisoners being discussed they wouldn’t come under ‘Prisoner of War’ status but might be classified legitimately as ‘Political Prisoners’ because they carry out violent actions for political reasons. (As opposed to ‘Prisoners of Conscience’ who are imprisoned for purely political thought or action with no violence or support for violence). There are no Prisoners of Conscience in the United Kingdom.

    However, if anybody was seen to profit personally from a robbery or kidnapping that would be criminal behaviour, not political.

    The killing of children does not even prevent someone from being a POW never mind a political prisoner. What state forces in the world haven’t killed children? Logically speaking if killing children does not prevent you from being a POW in a war situation why should armed robbery and kidnapping prevent you from having political status?

  • Munsterview

    I hear that Dessie is attending Limerick University these days!.

    So he has led a breakaway ?

    Bloody students causing trouble again, when ever will they grow up?

  • Granni Trixie

    Would love to think that 1981 will not return again, but it is not impossible that a prison issue could grow and grow
    (political status issue grew from around 1975-81, did it not?) so we need to have learnt lessons. One contextual factor not mentioned,clearly not the same as today is that there was a swell of feeling against Thatcher and how she appeared to be dealing vindictively with the problem.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    While the likes of RSF and the prisoners are caught in a Time Warp……the rest of us arent. There is always the potential that the campaign could get nasty (exactly what the campaigners want) but I just dont see it.

  • Argosjohn

    I look forward to reading Saoirse when (if) it comes out soon. I would like those who make smart arsed remarks about Republicans to make them to their face. I heard the same boring remarks in 1981.

  • Munsterview

    Those on all sides who hold for their own reasons that this particular prison protest is going nowhere could not be more wrong. It is still at the stage it seems where it can be defused and it should be and urgently so!

    In Unionist circles,what are otherwise reasonable voices on other issues do not accept that there was a war situation in the Six Counties, much less a legitimate one, there cannot be any appeal to this sector other than on purely pragmatic grounds, which I believe exists, to defuse this situation.

    On the Nationalist side there is ambiguity, in principle there is little sympathy for these prisoners or for the reasons that put them there. However the more that the the Unionist side row in behind the Police Services and the more this service issue the same spins as did the RUC / Prison Service in similar circumstances for the H Blocks, the more they will be seen in the very light that some Republican groups want to represent them, RUC Mark 2 with an unchanging and an unchangeable ethos.

    This presents an even bigger problem for Sinn Fein. Unlike previous prison disturbances we now have information communicated in real time and to a wide audience. It is perfectly obvious to me even at this remove, that the old mentalities are still rampant in the prison service and that like the last time around the warders include the some of the worst sectarian attitudes to be found in public service anywhere in these islands.

    Sinn Fein as a government party may be forced to take a certain public stand, but the Leadership know their own membership. For them, especially those with direct prison experience and families or anyone else politicized during the eighties Hunger Strike experience there is no ambiguity, for them it is the same system with the same bastards conducting the same abusive practices.

    In these circumstances there are no grey areas, you either support the prisoners demand for conditions or by default condone the brutality and unreasonable behavior of the prison services.

    There is no middle ground here.

    There are other agendas at work here on the Republican side other than political prisoner issues, I will readily concede that. A significant, and some would claim, increasing number of Republicans do not support the GFA. So far for somebody like me that went out and used the authority derived from my long service in the Republican Movement to sell it, what has been delivered to date has fallen well short of what was promised as achievable.

    If there is a serious credibility deficit for me as an observer down here, how much more is there up there for people who are experiencing the lack of real political change. FitzJH could be hardly described as an extremist of any kind, in fact he is one posting I look to for a level headed view and he has no problem identifying what the issues are with the prison services.

    The more Sinn Fein are seen not to condem this service, the more they will alienate ‘loose’ supporters, the very people that need to be brought into the Peace Process. The longer this goes on they will also be seen as having no real power or influence in decision making; if they cannot have abusive behavior in the Prison Services moderated then just what power do have ?

    That is the question Non Mainstream Republicans want highlighted and it is being answered hourly and daily.

    We do not have a normal society in the Six Counties, from the inception of the Statelet we never had and it is doubtful if we ever will. Just like the governance is an artificial attempt to make an artificial State work by imposing a convoluted and cumbersome system to give some semblance of democracy, so also other institutions like the Prison Services must have due regard to special circumstances.

    We are in a post conflict situation in Northern Ireland, Conflict do not have a clean start, they have several trigger points seldom recognized for what they were at the time but with hindsight seen to be part of a coherent whole that led to a war situation. In all post conflict situations the same applies, while a core and the majority of the dissenting party reaches an accommodation to get access to power and becomes part of the status quo, all aspects of the conflict just cannot be turned off like a tap.

    Just as the start up was messy and uncoordinated, so too minority elements will not accept the majority will of their own side and aspects of the old campaign will splutter on. As a leading British politician said as far back as 1932, ‘the bomber will always get through’ and they will be echos of the old days.

    The Republican Groupings are are at a critical point, they are large enough to sustain themselves but do not have enough support to mount a campaign. They need to expand and for this all they need is for enough individuals motivated by prison or other issues to change from observer to participant.

    While such groups may not get electoral support, they are not thinking in these terms no more than Republicans of Sixty Nine through to Eighty Six did, back then we accepted that we were outside the system. Sinn Fein was mainly a support and propaganda arm of the Armed Struggle. As a local IRA commander told local SF town Councillor, they were handy but not needed!

    Can we afford a new campaign of twenty or so weekly bombing and other incidents across the Six Counties in a stalemate but escalating situation?

    Viewed objectively we are now at a critical junction in the Six Counties. The Unionists had a hollow victory when they mounted an unrelenting and successful campaign to hollow out the GFA and delay its implementation until Sinn Fein were seen by Catholic / Nationalist / Republican critics as not having a political pot to piss in!

    Many that would have rowed in behind the Peace Process at that time were alienated, they still are, for them like me old habits die hard, we still regard ourselves as part of a wider Republican Family even if mainly observers these days.

    There is in fact a parallel for our situation, we are where Joe Cahill, Sean Keenan, McStick, Marcus Foley, Dessie Long, Liam Cotter, Gerry McCarthy, Jack McCabe and their likes were in the late sixties, forced out of the mainstream until events forced the pace, they said enough was enough, came back in on droves, formed a provisional organisation, organized and took back mainstream Republicanism from a minority who no longer represented mainstream republicanism as a whole!.

    We are still a long way from that but so also is the Good Friday and the Peace Process a long way from bedded in. We can well do without some emotive issue like a Political Prisoner Issue inflaming the body politic and inflicting furder damage and alienation on institutions already suffering a big credibility deficit on all sides.

    We should recognize the post conflict situation for what it is: give not only good Political Prisoner conditions, give excellent ones, the best prison conditions on these islands. Forget about normal prison regimes, we do not have a normal society to begin with. Look to Castlerea, the political prisoners there had their own bungalows inside the prison compounds, it brought outrage in certain predictable political quarters in the South but it removed prisoners issues from the normalization process in the South.

    Likewise in the Six Counties, recognize the situation for what it is and act on it now!

    Without the prisoner issues there are few other areas of discontent that will concern people enough to mobilize along sectarian lines. If there is mass street politics let it be about the swinging cuts coming down the line and real politics that can involve all!

  • Munsterview

    In a long and detailed posting on……. 31 May 2010 at 3:58 pm……. I set out my reasons and arguments as to why these groupings should get Political Prisoner Status, I do not have to reiterate them here.

    Irrespective as to whether it is a small Militant Republican Grouping, A Loyalist one, or members of the Militant League Of Atheist, the small numbers involved can and should be accommodated. This is a running sore and a potential volcano that could erupt at any time and when least expected.

    I have also pointed out repeatedly that all Republicans did not back the Good Friday Agreement to begin with, however they stayed neutral and took a ‘wait and see’ attitude. Even those of us that backed it quickly had reason to despair as the then main Unionist Partners shelled out section after section until in the eyes of most of the Catholic, Nationalist and Republican segments of the population, Gerry and Co were seen to have been left, as the saying goes, without a political pot to piss in!

    Catholic, Nationalist or Republicans have not forgotten this humiliation : the Unionists had a hollow victory and it will yet prove their ‘ pound of flesh’ moment. There is a large number of ex Republican prisoners and their families out there who were deeply effected by the various hunger strikes, who know exactly what the prison staff are like and who have a simple choice to make.

    Do we support our own people on the prison issue even if we do not agree with their politics or do we do nothing, sit at home and give the screws a free hand to do to them what they did to us? If such people take to the streets again, once out of the armchairs and away from computer keyboards they will want answers for quite a lot of things from Gerry& co and not just the Prisons issue.

    As Dear Albert ruefully reflected when his Government fell and he lost power in a finger snap,” it is the little things that trip you up ”

    This is still a little thing, so too is a detonator, set it off on it’s own in a room and there is just a flash noise and smoke, little damage!. However shove the same thing into a hundred weight of prepared fertilizer and there is half a street shattered!

    The prison issue is the detonator and there is no shortage of fertilizer in the North, in either political terms or physical reality. Who in this Island wants a return to those days?

    This is not only about Political Prisoner Status, it is about creating space for normal democracy and politics,( in as much as they can ever be any in the Six Counties ) and allowing them to work. In this context the granting of status is a very small price to pay.

  • If I was Mick Fealty I would bookmark Munsterview’s comments, as there is much there to ponder on and which, if the wrong decisions are taken on the Republican prisoners today, might come back and haunt a lot of people who now believe they have power in the six counties.

  • Munsterview

    Good one person at least listening……… any more constructive takers ?

  • jim

    the bullroots in castlerea prison also have their own bungalows.not just the hoods in jail for trying to rob post office vans n killing gards.might as well open the old butlins up again

  • Munsterview

    History buffs and Republicans please note…..

    RTE1 tonight 10:15 pm The Limits of Liberty….. dealing with the First Dail , establishing the Republic and that period. Sounds good!

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Sounds brilliant.
    We should at least be able to establish whether Ruairi O’Bradaigh and Geraldine Taylor were members of the First Dáil. Should settle a few bets.

  • Munsterview

    Rumor has it down this neck of the woods that the reports of middle management having taken over the Republican organization represented by RSF are quite correct.

    If these accounts are true, then there is no West Munster breakaway led by Dessie Long, rather he and others have thrown their weight behind a younger grouping that have already taken control of certain sections with clear majority approval.

    If so there is one serious aspect to all of this; people who are thinking in terms of a ‘Dads Army’ can thing again, these guys have lowered the controlling age profile to 35 / 40 and it seems that there are more than a few ‘ rank and file’ that were not even born at the time of the 1986 split.

    This is ominous; say what you will about Rory and the rest of the Old Guard, they knew that there were certain limits to what the public would tolerate in the way of Republican Armed Action. This toleration meant that an average Nationalist seeing a known Republican with a gun in any of all the Ulster counties North or South of the Border, would likely look the other way.

    However if that line was crossed then the phone call was made in the South to the Guards and in the North post Omagh that toleration horizon is much closer than it was prior to that, as any Republican resorting to widespread armed force will quickly find out. This new Exectuive Board however, like all such new boards will feel they have to prove themselves.

    Add that to some young tigers that have yet to learn caution and care from operational experience and you have, no pun intended, a dynamite situation. This is a new input to the Political Prisoner issue that should not be un appreciated or under rated. And Old Friends please note, these new kids on the block will be no respecters of thirty-five day notice of protest rules either and small blame to them for that!

    In fact it could be a very good issue to gain public traction and I would be very surprised if confrontation on this issue is not already part of the ‘to do’ list on the back of the command HQ door! Certain parties are just asking for it on that one.

    There is an old Chinese curse ‘May you live in interesting times’ Now hands up; who the hell pissed off the Chinaman ? Next question; how long before come back Rory all is forgiven! ?