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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Circling the Wagons


Anthony McIntyre • 12 December 2006

Is there a serious threat to the leaders of the North's largest Catholic party from republicans opposed to the strategy of Sinn Fein's contra leaders, a strategy which is bound to end in the eradication of republicanism and the long dreaded copper fastening of partition? It seems that those who think it true at one time also professed to believe that Freddie Scappaticci was a great republican much maligned by securocrats and mischievous journocrats, all out to devilishly undermine the peace process.

The evidence for this threat emanated from within Sinn Fein ranks. Like most claims by the party it was greeted by a collective raspberry. Since then the Taoiseach and the PSNI have given the allegation legs by claiming to know of the threat's existence. Because both have more credibility than Sinn Fein in the truth department they have probably increased the number of people willing to give the claims some credence.

In the past observers displayed a willingness to believe that allegations of threats against republicans from Sinn Fein had some substance. The party had a history of bullying and intimidating, and was not averse to the odd murder. It was hardly news to learn that its goondas were putting the boot on some neck.

Observers to this are now urged to treat with equal seriousness the latest round of allegations. There is a crucial difference. When Sinn Fein associated personnel issued threats they made them directly. The republicans who complained about being threatened, Brendan Shannon for example, could back their allegations with names, times, places, the nature of the threat. On this occasion the only evidence of threats is that people say they exist. There is nothing that anyone has yet pointed to, either by word or deed, in the actions of republicans that would firm up with even the most lightweight of substance the claim that threats actually exist.

It can never be ruled out that somewhere, someone is so distraught by the collapse of the republican project that an act of vengeance seems a fitting response. If so, the urge to settle accounts must be newly found. Those republicans, long dissociated from the Provisional movement, are unlikely to be surprised or shocked by Sinn Fein's eagerness to endorse the British police. This is the final, not the first step, in the shameless scramble for a bit of British devolved power. Whatever angst the long term alienated experienced it has most likely long since dissipated. The desire to attack Sinn Fein physically appears to be as strong in those quarters as the urge to join the PSNI.

Sinn Fein has been intimating that its own recently disaffected members have been meeting with other republicans and that out of this the threat has developed. Sinn Fein leaders have not missed an opportunity to allude to members of the INLA as possessing some ominous intent. But the INLA has been on a ceasefire for years, has been much less active in breaching it than the Provisionals, and seems to have a leadership which is much too astute to entertain the notion of emulating well established Provisional behaviour and going off on in violent pursuit of rivals. The organisation has also been severely burned by feuds in the past and its members or associates genuinely seem to mean 'never again' when they persistently assert the futility of such endeavours.

If it exists at all, the only place where the malignant bacilli of violent anti-leadership hatred could incubate is amongst those who have only just discovered that republicanism was never part of the leadership grand design. But even here it is hard to believe that they have any inclination to take out their own leaders. Some Provisionals tasked with briefing the rank and file on the nature of the supposed threat are said to be half-hearted about their affirmations of its existence. Having been sent round the country on numerous leadership lie missions in the past, the penny dropping for them is hardly sufficient cause for the rest of us to marvel.

If there are any threats to Sinn Fein leaders those responsible should desist from pursuing them. Not only shall they secure no support from the vast bulk of those at odds with the Provisional strategy, they will be viewed as pariahs who will be remembered not for removing a leadership they consider treacherous, but for having destroyed oppositional republican credibility. The judgement of history will be anything but kind.

A more plausible explanation for the threat story is Sinn Fein's problems with its own base. On a daily basis 'mainstream' republicans are flouting party censorship stipulations and writing to the papers to vent their concerns. Only this week the Irish News carried a damning indictment from former blanket protestor Seosamh Mac An Ultaigh, who expressed sadness:

that many honourable republicans are being hoodwinked and cajoled into accepting a British agenda by a leadership who are using the loyalty that the grass roots have shown throughout the years of struggle and suffering; anger at a leadership expert at total in-house control with no room for criticism or another point of view … If Sinn Fein supports or joins the six-county police force, a vote for Sinn Fein will then be a vote for maintaining partition. It's as serious as that. All republicans should keep that firmly in mind at election time.

This is what the threat claim may really be about; curbing republicans like Seosamh Mac An Ultaigh who seek to alert their comrades about the only possible outcome of current Sinn Fein strategy. With rumours of threats circulating, cui bono? The party leadership if it is able, on the basis of such alleged threats, to instil a laager mentality inside the tent and frightening off anybody considering looking beyond its external flaps.


















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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

12 December 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Chile: The death of a Murderer
Tito Tricot

35 Years of Silence
John Kennedy

Perpetual opposition haunts DUP
David Adams

Sucking Up to Sinn Fein
Dr John Coulter

Circling the Wagons
Anthony McIntyre

Spin Cycle
Carrie Twomey

The Hypocrisy is Pathetic
Seamus Kearney

'Provo leaders should wake up to the truth'
Carrie Twomey

Prison Protest Held in Newry
Republican Prisoners' Action Group (RPAG)

Get It Together
Dr John Coulter

The Liar is Dead. Long Live the Liar
Anthony McIntyre

Throw Away the Key
John Kennedy

The State's Bar Must Always Be Higher
Mick Hall

Zionism: Pitting the West Against Islam
M. Shahid Alam

Mental Madness
Dr John Coulter

3 December 2006

Forensic Framework Unravels
Martin Galvin

RUC Killing of Irish-American To Become Issue in New Congress
Fr. Sean Mc Manus

F's All Around
Dr John Coulter

Loose Ends
John Kennedy

The People of No Principle
Geraldine Adams

Policing, a Bridge Too Far for Republicans?
Willie Gallagher

Conway Mill Debate
Anthony McIntyre

Not Too Late for a United Front
Mick Hall

Afraid of the Voice of the People
James Bradley

Ideals Live On
Dolours Price

Ray McAreavey

Poetry in Motion
Lord Falls

Michael Pebble
Anthony McIntyre

Action Required to Stop Bullies
Dr John Coulter

O'Shea is Right on Aid Policy
David Adams

Ministerial Own Goal
Anthony McIntyre

‘Beyond the Veil: Perspectives on Muslim Women in a Western Secular Context’
Maryam Namazie



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