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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