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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Creating A Viable Alternative

Political journalist and Revolutionary Unionist Dr John Coulter chats to leading IRSP man Willie Gallagher who is appealing to what the media has branded 'dissident republicans' to call ceasefires. Dr Coulter also assesses developments in the Pan Republican Front set up to oppose the current Sinn Fein peace agenda.


Dr John Coulter • 2 October 2006

The Real and Continuity wings of the IRA have been urged to follow the lead of the INLA and declare ceasefires.

The ceasefires plea – which certainly did not include an equal appeal for disbanding and decommissioning – came from one of Ireland's leading republican socialist activists, Tyrone-based Willie Gallagher of the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the INLA's political wing.

Mr Gallagher also confirmed he felt a meeting of republicans who questioned the present Provisional Sinn Fein peace strategy would still go ahead, and poured cold water on rumours it was aimed at forming a new republican terror group.

And Mr Gallagher also agreed with the views of Derry-based independent republican Michael Donnelly that there was a need to form a purely political Pan Republican Front as an alternative to the present PSF agenda.

Describing himself as “a member of the IRSP, and an unapologetic supporter of the INLA”, he said the aim of the original, postponed Toomebridge meeting last month was “totally political”.

“It was to form an unarmed strategy as there is no appetite for armed struggle and it only causes divisions. We are still trying to unite Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter. We want to win the Unionist community over to our way of thinking, but we know that the attacks on the RUC and UDR have caused wedges between Catholics and Protestants.

“The Toomebridge type meeting will go ahead, but it was taken completely out of context. There was to be no discussion on a military option – that's all rubbish. There is no chance of the INLA going into a front with the Continuity IRA.

“I am a strong supporter of the ceasefires and I would say to the Real IRA and Continuity IRA – if the Provisional IRA couldn't do it pre the 1994 ceasefire, what hope have you got? The ceasefires of the IRA and INLA were right.

“The INLA is still on ceasefire and there has been no change in that since 1998. I still hold to the belief the INLA ceasefire should not be broken. It has been observed quite well. Any breaches were more in response to attacks on the membership.”

Urging the Real and Continuity IRAs to declare ceasefires, the leading IRSP man said: “An analysis of the situation is that the Real and Continuity IRAs cannot carry out an effective campaign against the British. To continue is to condemn our own people to suffering.

“We must recognise the need to have friendship within diversity with republicans and the unionist people. We must be able to put our views across. That's why the Toomebridge meeting was totally political. The INLA, Continuity IRA and Real IRA have nothing in common, but we need an unarmed strategy.

“A lot of republicans are unhappy with the direction that Sinn Fein has taken. Republicans have given up a lot more than people think. The ceasefires were right, but they didn't believe in decommissioning, Stormont and the police.

“Sinn Fein lied to the membership and a lot of republicans are waking up to the Adams strategy. But an anti-Sinn Fein vote will increase again. We want to set up a viable alternative at this time and we think the Good Friday Agreement will collapse.”

As to the way forward, Mr Gallagher said he advocated “a broad front”. “Trying to unite republicans is a difficult job in our history. There is a lot of bitterness in republicanism and we have to ask how we heal this. Toomebridge was about healing that bitterness.

“We want to see discussions with all brands of republicans. There is not a chance of a united Ireland with the Good Friday Agreement. It will only come about through a referendum in the North, but we recognise that not every Catholic would vote for a united Ireland,” added Mr Gallagher.

Meanwhile, Mr Donnelly said republicans in south Derry had held a series of private, informal meetings to discuss the situation. Although Republican Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Continutity IRA, had come out against the proposed Pan Republican Front, Mr Donnelly emphasised the meetings had still gone ahead – but not on the scale of the postponed Toomebridge event.

“There have been a series of very informal meetings amongst the rank and file. In Derry, there have been two meetings so far at grassroots level and we are hoping for a venue further afield. The main areas for these meetings are Derry city, Co Down, Co Tyrone and south Derry.

“At the moment, these meetings are behind closed doors, but a public meeting is planned. But the meetings will not be based around paramilitaries.”

Mr Donnelly said they had even had “a good response” from supporters in the South. He stressed the Pan Republican Front would be “an umbrella group” and would not be about poaching members from other groups to the PRF.

“All the organisations are looking over their shoulders because they fear they may lose members. Our message at the moment is stay in your own groups because the Pan Republican Front is an umbrella group; it is not about trying to poach members.”





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

2 October 2006

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Anthony McIntyre

Reply to Andytown News on Republican Family Meeting
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Lights Out
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Creating A Viable Alternative
Dr John Coulter

Teflon Kid
John Kennedy

When Fear Trumps Reason
David Adams

Stay Out of Neo-Con Mire
Mick Hall

Who really is the Biblical Anti Christ?
Dr John Coulter

Serving Judas, Not Justice
Anthony McIntyre

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DNA and Diplock: A Recipe for Injustice
Martin Galvin

Carrots and Sticks
Dr John Coulter

The Time of My Life
Ray McAreavey

Hunger Strikers for Sale on Ebay
Breandán Ó Muirthile

Strange Logic
Anthony McIntyre

Digging Up the Past
John Kennedy

The History of the Belfast Anti War Movement
Davy Carlin

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 11 & 12
Michael Gillespie

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 13 & 14
Michael Gillespie

Lights Out
Anthony McIntyre

Papal in Glass Houses
Derick Perry

The GFA and Islam
Roy Johnston

Muhammad's Sword
Uri Avnery

We Are Not As Evolved As We Think
David Adams

Stone Me
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