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Bloody Sunday, election, Irish, Ireland, British, Ulster, Unionist, Sinn Féin, SDLP, Ahern, Blair, Irish America

IRA dissidents join forces in new challenge to peace process

(by Suzanne Breen, Sunday Tribune)

Recently-defected Provisional IRA members will join forces with Real IRA and Continuity IRA activists at a public meeting in Co Derry on Tuesday in what they believe could lead to a ground-breaking challenge to the peace process.

Widespread disillusionment in Provisional IRA ranks has been followed by a notable increase in political and military activity by dissidents. Real IRA firebombs have destroyed large stores in Newry, while a bomb was planted at the Co Louth home of Ulster Unionist peer, Lord Haughey.

Dissidents, previously riven with in-fighting, said it was time to set aside their differences, draw up a joint strategy, and challenge "Provisional domination".

Real IRA, INLA and Continuity IRA members, who will attend the meeting, said they hoped to develop a way forward and put an end to the marginalisation of dissident republicans. Political activists with no military involvement are also involved in organising the meeting and will be in attendance.

It has been advertised as taking place in Toome, Co Derry, chosen because last month – as reported in the Sunday Tribune – up to 40 members of the South Derry brigade of the Provisional IRA defected amidst disillusionment with the leadership's strategy.

Republican sources claim that one of the organisers of Tuesday's meeting is Dominic Og McGlinchey, son of murdered INLA chief-of-staff, Dominic McGlinchey. Sources claim McGlinchey, 29, was until recently a strong Sinn Féin supporter.

McGlinchey could not be contacted for comment.However, Paddy Murray, a former Provisional IRA prisoner currently on bail on Real IRA charges, also claimed that McGlinchey would attend the meeting.

"Dominic is a well-respected republican in Co Derry and it's important he's coming.He carries a lot of weight in the area." Murray said dissidents were "regrouping and restrengthening" and gaining in confidence. "The Provos are in big trouble with their own community and they know it.

"It has always been said anti-Agreement republicans have no strategy. It's now time we developed one. There will be nothing that can't be discussed. Unlike the Provos, we aren't leadership-led, we're not a dictatorship."

Murray said ways of moving forward "politically and militarily" would be debated. "This is a republican meeting and, when you invite republicans, you get people from military and political backgrounds. There is likely to be Real IRA and INLA members and plenty of others too.

"Despite increasing dissident noises, in nationalist areas the Real and Continuity IRA are regarded as failures because, despite many years in existence, they haven't inflicted security force casualties.

Ex-IRA hunger-striker Marion Price, now a member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, said dissident republicanism was strengthening.

"There have been more new faces at meetings. Anti-Agreement ranks are definitely swelling. There has been so much bickering in the past between anti-Agreement republicans. It's time it stopped.

"Far more unites than divides us. For the sake of republicanism, we need to find a common way forward. Unity is strength."

August 27, 2006

This article appeared in the August 27, 2006 edition of the Sunday Tribune.