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Independent Republican Candidates Take A Stand

category national | elections / politics | feature author Thursday April 21, 2005 22:02author by Barry Report this post to the editors

The Growth Of A Republican Socialist Alternative Within The Republican Base

From The Newswire: The emergence of a number of independent republican candidates in this years northern council elections has highlighted a growing discontent within the traditional republican base vote which Sinn Fein could previously have taken for granted.

Although small in number, the fact that these independent candidates have emerged from within working class republican communities across the entire 6 counties, indicates that a growing number of republicans no longer feel that Sinn Fein articulate or represent their ideological beliefs, whether republican or socialist, and that this dissent exists across the entire occupied area.

It also appears that their decision to contest the elections and oppose Sinn Fein's stranglehold within the republican base has been spontaneous and not part of any organised electoral effort by any political grouping.

A number of republicans who recently left Sinn Fein on ideological grounds are prominent among those standing for the council seats. Sitting Newry and Mourne councillor Martin Cunningham recently parted company from Sinn Fein in a bitter dispute concerning republican prisoners.

Cunningham had highlighted the cases of a number of his neighbours who had been fitted up by the RUC with the active assistance of a British intelligence agent and the planting of forensic evidence by British soldiers. As a result of his support for these men, who were acquitted after their legal team uncovered what had happened within the corrupt policing system, Cunningham found himself on extremely poor terms with the Adams leadership .

Martin Cunningham had also raised concerns internally about the direction the party had taken, primarily its acceptance of the GFA and Stormont. Unsurprisingly this marked him as a "dissident" within the party structure, which he then parted company with on less than friendly terms. This has led to his criticism of the Adams leadership as being "stalinist" in its inability to tolerate internal party debate (which is virtually non-existent) .

Since then he has gone on to highlight the cases of others who were stitched up as well as lending his voice to calls for the reintroduction of political status for jailed republican activists which was abolished under the GFA . He is also prominent in highlighting the hardships faced by small farmers in his rural South Down constituency.

Just recently Cllr. Cunningham found himself on the recieving end of a bitter and personalised smear campaign organised by Sinn Fein following his expression of personal support for the sisters of murdered Belfast man Robert McCartney .

Attending a meeting of Newry and Mourne council soon after meeting them in Belfast, he was barracked and loudly heckled by Sinn Fein councillors, his former colleagues. The Sinn Fein councillors branded him an "informer" due to his public support for the sisters. Posters also accusing him of being an informer were distributed throughout the council chamber, posted on walls and distributed on every seat.

In an ironic twist it has just recently emerged that the leader of the heckling councillors , Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy, was himself secretly meeting with senior PSNI/RUC figures behind closed doors during that very period. So far none of his colleagues have branded him an informer, despite the fact he was meeting the crown forces in secret .

Also standing in Antrim Town are Aine Gribbon and Tish Murray, two former Sinn Fein members and prominent activists within the Rathenraw community, which was the focus of a bitter dispute last year. Antrim Town's local Sinn Fein cumann resigned en masse after accusing the Sinn Fein leadership of being linked to criminality and corruption as well as abandoning the republican position of rejection of British rule in Ireland.

The local Rathenraw Tenant's Association, of which both women were prominent members had transformed an area which was once a byword for drugs and anti-social behaviour which families were desperate to leave, into a community / family orientated estate which people actually wanted to move into.

The dispute, which originally centred round certain leading provisionals' support for the family of a major drug dealer who had moved into the estate, came to a head when the local Sinn Fein cumann resigned virtually en masse.

The leadership response to the mass resignation was to bus in 100's of heavies from Belfast (among them the murderers of Robert McCartney), who then patrolled the area in mobs, harassing and threatening the residents of the nationalist housing estate in a bid to silence them. It was reported at the time, that among those threatened with death by the provisionals was an 8 months pregnant woman and a former political prisoner.

Both mothers and those who took a stand with them made clear they would not be intimidated or silenced. They are now standing on a republican platform of allegiance to the principles of Irelands' Declaration of Independence, and in support of their local community which is being victimised and harassed by the PSNI and the local unionist controlled council. Among the issues they are highlighting is the targetting and monitoring of nationalist homes by CCTV cameras that the unionist council have placed there with the PSNI.

Perhaps what is most telling about the Antrim situation is that both sitting Sinn Fein councillors, including the high profile Martin Meehan, will not be seeking re-election following the provo leadership's failed attempt to intimidate the republicans of Antrim. Their position has simply become untenable and 2 new "weak" candidates have been put forward instead.

In North Antrim well known local activist Bertie Shaw is standing as an independent republican in the loyalist stronghold of Larne. Both he and his family have been the frequent targets of attacks by loyalist death squads as well as harassment by crown forces. In the early 90's his father was murdered by loyalists and both himself and family members have been injured and survived a number of murder bids.

Another prominent candidate standing in Armagh City is former blanketman and H Block hungerstriker John Nixon. A commited socialist and former INLA POW, Nixon is widely respected in his local area and articulates a clear left wing viewpoint which has been sadly lacking of late within Sinn Fein.

In Co. Tyrone independent republican Paul Gallagher is standing in the nationalist stronghold of Strabane, while in Co. Fermanagh Kevin Barry Nolan also stands on an independent republican ticket .

Finally, a hard fought battle is expected in Derry city as local republican Gary Donnelly takes a stand in the cityside ward which encompasses the Creggan and Bogside . Well known locally as a republican activist with a hardline, uncompromising position towards British rule, Mr Donnelly is actively highlighting local job discrimination, pointing to the fact that funding for local community employment is virtually confined to members of Sinn Fein as "jobs for the boys". This is contrary to everything the people of Derry fought for when they demanded their rights. Employment should not be the preserve of a political clique on Derry city council.

Donnelly is also utterly opposed to the PSNI and any participation on local DPPs, which Sinn Fein are expected to fully endorse once the elections are over. Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles facing Gary Donnelly is the fact that prior to his decision to run as a candidate many Derry republicans. who would instinctively vote for him him as an alternative to Sinn Fein. have previously refused to register for a vote in order to prevent it being stolen. There has since been a frantic scramble by many in the cityside ward to get themselves registered following his decision to run .

However what is most important about these candidates standing is not whether they are successful in being elected, but the fact that they are highlighting republican and socialist issues within the republican base that Sinn Fein are either ignoring completely or to which they are simply paying lip service. They represent the forgotten constituency: the republicans and radicals who have decided that the Sinn Fein leadership has gone down a path which is contrary to their convictions and for whatever reason no longer represents them. It now seems that this constituency is larger and more widespread than many had assumed, simply due to the fact it had been successfully kept out of sight . Whether it continues to grow and to organise itself remains to be seen, but how well these candidates perform will be an interesting diversion from the tug of war within the constitutional nationalist establishment of Sinn Fein and the SDLP .

USEFUL RELATED LINKS
Slugger O'Toole
The Blanket
Wikipedia Definition Of Republicanism
Wikipedia Definition of Socialism

 #   Title   Author   Date 
   Independent republicans     micheailin o'cinnsealach    Thu Apr 21, 2005 03:06 
   Haven't we seen this somewhere before?     W. Gallagher    Thu Apr 21, 2005 08:12 
   Thanks for both responses to the article     barry    Thu Apr 21, 2005 14:15 
   independent Republicans     Eibhlin    Thu Apr 21, 2005 15:24 
   independent Republicans take a stand     Brian (QUB student)    Thu Apr 21, 2005 15:34 
   Independent Republicans take a stand     Emer    Thu Apr 21, 2005 15:39 
   About attribution of article     an imcer    Thu Apr 21, 2005 15:49 
   re. socialism not been on the agenda     pj    Thu Apr 21, 2005 19:17 
   In relation to the Republican Movement     W. Gallagher    Thu Apr 21, 2005 21:22 
 10   Re: Eibhlin     C Ó Brolcháin    Thu Apr 21, 2005 21:57 
 11   ..     jack white    Thu Apr 21, 2005 22:50 
 12   re jack, WG     barry    Fri Apr 22, 2005 05:12 
 13   the republican movement     Eugene    Fri Apr 22, 2005 07:21 
 14   Exellent Article and Analysis     GreenPartyMike    Fri Apr 22, 2005 09:56 
 15   Good article Barry     Cate    Fri Apr 22, 2005 13:18 
 16   No to sectarian biggots that are "independent republicans"     Socialist    Fri Apr 22, 2005 14:52 
 17   No to mindless repetitions of party mantra!     Badman    Fri Apr 22, 2005 18:00 
 18   Who's the bigot     Hill XVl    Fri Apr 22, 2005 18:08 
 19   The libertarian socialist way forward     professor-rat    Fri Apr 22, 2005 18:14 
 20   re mike     Barry    Fri Apr 22, 2005 22:10 
 21   oops     barry    Fri Apr 22, 2005 22:30 
 22   rathenraw     realist    Fri Apr 22, 2005 22:33 
 23   how about?     jack white    Fri Apr 22, 2005 22:45 
 24   Rathenraw     Barry    Fri Apr 22, 2005 22:45 
 25   Jack     Barry    Fri Apr 22, 2005 23:33 
 26   well done Barry     spongebob    Sat Apr 23, 2005 00:22 
 27   32csm     Barry    Sat Apr 23, 2005 01:33 
 28   barry     jack white    Sat Apr 23, 2005 01:42 
 29   re Jack     Barry    Sat Apr 23, 2005 02:43 
 30   Reality     Realist    Sat Apr 23, 2005 03:10 
 31   ???     Eugene    Sat Apr 23, 2005 03:18 
 32   reality     realist    Sat Apr 23, 2005 03:36 
 33   ooooh     Eugene    Sat Apr 23, 2005 03:47 
 34   Great Article Barry     seedot    Sat Apr 23, 2005 12:15 
 35   A contribution     Mark H    Sat Apr 23, 2005 16:15 
 36   Strategies and an unhealthy cycle     Barry    Sat Apr 23, 2005 17:32 
 37   re Mark H     Barry    Sat Apr 23, 2005 17:42 
 38   Anger as Sinn Fein members step down     joe (Holy lands)    Sat Apr 23, 2005 21:03 
 39   Re Mark (ill postpone getting a life for another hour)     Barry    Sat Apr 23, 2005 21:14 
 40   Thanks for the article Barry     eeekkkk    Sat Apr 23, 2005 22:42 
 41   Strategy - national and international (and in development)     Barry    Sun Apr 24, 2005 22:54 
 42   questions     spongebob    Mon Apr 25, 2005 01:26 
 43   Spongebob     barry    Mon Apr 25, 2005 05:54 
 44   Republicanism and the Left     W. Gallagher    Mon Apr 25, 2005 14:08 
 45   Cuba free?!?!     lucy82    Mon Apr 25, 2005 14:55 
 46   I can't speak for the rest of your post lucy,     not a castro fan but    Mon Apr 25, 2005 15:15 
 47   Off on a tangent     Joe    Mon Apr 25, 2005 15:31 
 48   Declaration of Independence.     Barry    Mon Apr 25, 2005 19:16 
 49   reply to barry     spongebob    Mon Apr 25, 2005 20:02 
 50   reply to W. Gallagher     spongebob    Tue Apr 26, 2005 01:02 
 51   what a heap of old cobblers     Badman    Tue Apr 26, 2005 01:32 
 52   just on that claim of yours about drugs spongebob     cod    Tue Apr 26, 2005 01:52 
 53   A futher response     Mark P (formerly Mark H}    Tue Apr 26, 2005 02:34 
 54   Apostles of freedom.     barry    Tue Apr 26, 2005 07:35 
 55   rethink the war     n    Tue Apr 26, 2005 10:15 
 56   EXCELLANT JOB BARRY     tomas o'cadhain    Tue Apr 26, 2005 14:20 
 57   Individual Terrorism     Mark P    Tue Apr 26, 2005 17:27 
 58   Questions regarding 32CSM and building of alternative     W. Gallagher    Tue Apr 26, 2005 17:42 
 59   Related reading     R. Isible    Tue Apr 26, 2005 17:44 
 60   To clarify     R. Isible    Tue Apr 26, 2005 17:55 
 61   Response to R. Isible     Mark P    Tue Apr 26, 2005 18:05 
 62   Actually     Mark P    Tue Apr 26, 2005 18:11 
 63   Historical engagement of Marxists with terrorism     R. Isible    Tue Apr 26, 2005 18:16 
 64   R.Isible     Mark P    Tue Apr 26, 2005 18:31 
 65   Agreed Mark     R. Isible    Tue Apr 26, 2005 19:06 
 66   Another response     Mark P    Tue Apr 26, 2005 19:40 
 67   terrorism     Barry    Tue Apr 26, 2005 19:43 
 68   One No, Many Yeses?     seedot    Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:24 
 69   A brief comment     Chekov    Wed Apr 27, 2005 11:43 
 70   Debate is the key at the moment     Barry    Wed Apr 27, 2005 14:24 
 71   In relation to the distortion of the policies of The Workers Party     Stickie    Thu Apr 28, 2005 20:11 
 72   a sticky wicket     Barry    Thu Apr 28, 2005 23:51 
 73   cycle of betrayals. why     john throne    Fri Apr 29, 2005 07:10 
 74   Now now Barry     Old ex-stick    Fri Apr 29, 2005 10:15 
 75   In reply     Stickie    Fri Apr 29, 2005 11:22 
 76   Today is the 24th anniversary of Bobby Sands death     Barry    Thu May 05, 2005 19:03 
 77   this will probably be the last posting here if we have any sense     rory    Wed May 11, 2005 15:43 
 78   3 Phones - The Sequel     Eimear    Thu May 12, 2005 21:47 
 79   Adams is a hypocrite     socialist    Thu May 12, 2005 22:10 
 80   South Down victory     Chuck south down    Thu May 12, 2005 22:45 
 81   Actually     Waterboy    Thu May 12, 2005 22:58 
 82   Non Payment opposition     Chuck south down    Thu May 12, 2005 23:25 
 83   erm ...chuck     Barry    Fri May 13, 2005 10:05 
 84   What happened?     realist    Sun May 15, 2005 01:51 
 85   What happened ?     Barry    Sun May 15, 2005 04:23 
 86   What happened Antrim - Man held after drugs seized     William Orr    Sun May 15, 2005 14:05 


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