[Marxism] Republican opposition to Sinn Fein pro-police politics

Philip Ferguson philip.ferguson at canterbury.ac.nz
Thu Dec 7 14:30:17 MST 2006

Sinn Fein battles for republican hearts and minds over policing 
Irish Times (Dublin); Nov 29, 2006; p. 8 
Full Text: 
(Copyright (c) 2006 The Irish Times) 

The party leadership has its own difficulties trying to sell the radical
shift on policing it is considering, writes Gerry Moriarty , Northern

About 250 people were at Conway Mill in west Belfast on Monday night and
most of them were vehemently opposed to Sinn Fein signing up to
policing, although there were senior republicans present to argue the
party line. 

Declan Kearney, a senior Sinn Fein member who was involved in debriefing
the subsequently murdered Denis Donaldson when he admitted he was a
British agent, was speaking about overall "republican strategy" as a
motor for change on policing and other issues. 

"Sinn Fein strategy," corrected Marion Price tersely from one of the
front rows, to applause from the crowd. 

She was imprisoned in the early 1970s for her part with her sister
Dolours in the IRA London bombings of 1973. She was making a point that
whatever Sinn Feiners might say, the true republican strategy, so to
speak, was to oppose current moves. 

An apparent Sinn Fein loyalist sitting a row ahead turned around to
reprimand her for interrupting Mr Kearney. She fierily told him she
would not be deflected from making her point. 

"I was proud to be a Provisional IRA member," she said when the meeting
concluded shortly before 10pm, but now, a member of the 32 County
Sovereignty Committee, she was bitterly opposed to the policies pursued
by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. 

In the Conway Mill hall, you could taste her bitterness and the
bitterness of many in the audience. The meeting was not organised by
Sinn Fein but by other Belfast republicans. 

Just as Ian Paisley has his internal detractors over his expressed
conditional willingness to share power with Mr McGuinness, so too has
the Sinn Fein leadership its own difficulties about the radical shift on
policing it is considering. 

This was the first public manifestation of rank-and-file republicans
debating policing with a small number of media present. Sinn Fein has
held several republican "family" meetings on the issue, but with the
press excluded. 

There was talk that Sinn Fein policing spokesman Gerry Kelly would be
one of the speakers, but the only debaters at the top table initially
were Francie Mackey of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, which is
linked to the Real IRA, and Willie Gallagher of the Irish Republican
Socialist Party (IRSP), which is linked to the Irish National Liberation
Army (INLA). 

Independent chairman and trade unionist Brendan Macken said the SDLP had
initially said it would be present but due to the "labelling of the
meeting" it was not attending. This was a reference to how the public
meeting was portrayed as a dissident republican event. Yesterday, Mr
Kelly said dissidents "bussed in" supporters from all over the North to
swell numbers. 

Mr Macken told the crowd that Sinn Fein had also been invited, appearing
to suggest no one from the party would be there, but just then Mr
Kearney made his way to the table to argue the party line. 

The subject was "Policing: a bridge too far?" and Mr Gallagher posited a
simple argument. Until a 32-county sovereign socialist republic was
declared, there could never be an acceptable police service in Northern
Ireland. To loud applause, he said: "We are never going to support the
PSNI. We are not going to give them any allegiance."

Full at: www.ireland.com/newspaper/ireland/2006/1129/1164693657402.html

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