Irish Republican News · October 6, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
CIRA dispute over Portlaoise prisoners

The hardline Continuity IRA is reported to be in disarray after a number of its prisoners in Portlaoise jail left the organisation.

The resignation occurred following a dispute over prison discipline between Continuity IRA leaders in County Limerick and prisoners at the jail, which houses most republican prisoners in the Irish midlands.

Funds normally directed by the CIRA-backed ‘Cabhair’ organisation to support these prisoners families’ were withheld, according to reports, although this was later denied.

Last weekend supporters of the prisoners set up the Concerned Group for Republican Prisoners to financially assist the Portlaoise prisoners’ families.

A member of the Continuity IRA in Limerick has criticised the behaviour of the organisation’s former prisoners on the E4 wing of the jail.

The prisoners were accused of abusing drink and drugs, and of associating with “criminals”. He also criticised those collecting funds on the prisoners’ behalf, describing them as “breakaway elements” and “failed coup plotters”.

The CIRA man said: “Some misguided people who attempted to damage the leadership of the republican movement by spreading lies and falsehoods continue to raise funds for these E4 landing prisoners in Portlaoise prison. These men are not republican prisoners.”

Others in the organisation have queried the apparently increasing influence of the CIRA in Limerick.

Around 20 members of Republican Sinn Féin are also understood to have quit the party in protest, including an entire cumman in Coalisland, County Tyrone. RSF shares the aims of the Continuity IRA, which formed after RSF split from Provisional Sinn Féin, in 1986.

An RSF spokesman said it was assured that families of all political prisoners who been supported by Cabhair - Irish Republican Prisoners’ Dependants Fund - continued to be supported by that body.

However, he confirmed that a “few people” have resigned from Republican Sinn Féin.

“A campaign of spreading unfounded rumours about Republican Sinn Féin is taking place.

“These are being put about by people who have not been long-standing members nor have they been people of settled republican convictions.

“A few people have resigned from the organisation. Some of these have been ex-Provos who joined recently and who had remained with the Provisionals even after they accepted the Stormont Agreement.

“The remainder are young people without political experience who joined in the recent past and who came under the influence of these ex-Provos.

“The unsettling effect for them of Provo destruction of arms and the declared intention of the Provisional movement to support and join the PSNI/RUC forms the background to all this but firmly convinced republicans will not be affected by this campaign.”


Meanwhile, the Irish Republican Socialist Party has called on republicans not on ceasefire to bring their armed campaigns to a close.

The call was made at the annual Seamus Costello commemoration last weekend by IRSP national executive member Eddie McGarrigle.

The IRSP offers political advice to the Irish National Liberation Army. The INLA is opposed to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and remains armed, but has abided by a ceasefire declared that year.

Mr McGarrigle said during his address that it was time for the Continuity IRA and Real IRA to call off their respective campaigns.

“There is no support for them within working-class communities. They are not alone in having misgivings about the Good Friday Agreement and there are many who believe it will not lead to a lasting settlement but armed struggle is not the way to go about bringing change.

“These groups have got to get back to politics. British intelligence is so much ingrained in these organisations on the ground that they have no strategy at all. For these republicans to retain their dignity, they have to call a ceasefire now.

“Their pretence of an armed struggle has clouded issues affecting working-class communities. They are in danger of letting the republican cause down by further action.

“They should lay down arms and engage with other republicans. I would call on these organisation to talk to the IRSP and other republicans, especially anti-Good Friday Agreement republicans.

“Republican prisoners always had a place where they had a voice. Both they and their families need to be consulted North and South and need to be involved in dialogue. Their prisoners have got to be consulted,” he said.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News