Meeting exposes rift in republicanism

A public meeting of republicans to discuss policing was held in west Belfast on Monday night, with sharply contrasting views put forward.

Around 200 people packed one of the large meeting rooms at the Conway Mill building.

Willie Gallagher of the Irish Republican Socialist Party joined Mr Mackey of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee and Sinn Féin’s Declan Kearney on the platform for the debate.

Both Mr Gallagher and Mr Mackey indicated that their groups would not support the PSNI police in the Six Counties until Britain ends the partition of Ireland.

“For republicans the PSNI can never be accepted as an acceptable police service because they are an instrument of the British government,” Mr Gallagher said.

He said while republicans have traditionally accepted the use of the police “in issues of ordinary crime” [such as rape], “republicans cannot solve the corrupt policing system by becoming police within the corrupt system and cannot bow to the pressure of making hasty decisions”.

Mr Kearney insisted that Sinn Féin had signed up to nothing and are still “in a process of negotiation”.

“We have identified policing as a site of struggle and our focus has been through negotiations to ensure that the issue of policing is centre stage,” he said.

“Sinn Féin is determined to end political policing in this state.

“We haven’t endorsed the PSNI. Sinn Féin’s position on policing is very clear. We have a negotiation underway when that the negotiation is concluded the debate with out party will commence.”

He added that there was no guarantee that the negotiations would prove successful.

However, Mr Mackey questioned the decision to involve the republican movement in any process which was in essence created and controlled by the British government.

He said “the spectacle of republicans donning the uniform of once legitimate targets” blinds some to the reality of what that represents.

“Part of the normalising policy is the normalising of the British government’s illegal claim [to rule in Ireland].”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News