Republicans consider electoral strategy
Republicans consider electoral strategy

An umbrella group led by former republican prisoners opposed to Sinn Féin’s new political direction is due to meet in the Gasyard Centre later today [Monday] to plan a strategy ahead of the Assembly elections in March.

The recently formed ‘Ex-POWs and Concerned Republicans’ group have stated that Sinn Féin’s endorsement of the Crown PSNI police has served only to copperfasten British Rule in the Six Counties.

Spokesman for the group, ex-PoW Danny McBrearty invited “like-minded” people in Derry and beyond to join them to agitate support for republican candidates against Sinn Féin’s selection ahead of the election.

“Gerry Adams has now said that the logical thing for young republicans to do is join the RUC/PSNI and for the nationalist/republican community to collude with the Historical Enquiries Team about events during the war. This means that anyone who ever had a history of helping any republican organisation in the past may now come under scrutiny from this group,” he said.

Mr McBrearty stressed that the new umbrella republican group has no problem with the PSNI dealing with criminals in the republican community.

“We do not have a problem with our community using the RUC/PSNI force to solve certain crimes against them such as rape, death drivers, child molesters, drug pushers, assaults on our elderly and the vulnerable in our society.

“We are not anti-policing, the problem we have is in joining the British crown forces,” he said.

Mr McBrearty was also keen to point out that the new group is not aligned to any political party or indeed any other republican organisation. He also spoke out against allegations of recent death threats made to members of Sinn Féin.

“We would like to distance ourselves from any so-called death threats or use of violence towards anyone.”

“As last weekend’s Bloody Sunday march proved, we have substantial support in our community.”

Meanwhile, former Sinn Féin assembly member for Newry and Armagh Davy Hyland has confirmed he will run as an independent republican candidate in next month’s assembly election.

Well-known south Armagh republicans including Pat McNamee, a former Sinn Féin assembly member and ex-republican prisoner, along with Jim McAllister, who was elected to the assembly in 1982, have thrown their weight behind Mr Hyland’s challenge.

The former Sinn Féin man resigned last month after he was dropped as a candidate for assembly elections due to take place on March 7.

Mr Hyland believes his opposition to Sinn Féin’s new political direction following its shift in policing policy was a core reason for being dropped from the party slate.

“I’m running as an independent republican in the Newry and Armagh because I think a sizeable section of republicans and nationalists have misgivings about Sinn Féin. We will be giving those people an alternative to Sinn Féin and the SDLP,” he said.

A Sinn Féin cumann in County Antrim has been wound up after the majority of its members resigned in protest at Sinn Féin’s new policing strategy.

* No group has claime responsibility for what was described by the PSNI as a “viable device” left on the Grosvenor Road in west Belfast on Thursday.

Traffic was diverted for several hours while the roadside device was made safe. It is thought that the device may have been intended for PSNI vehicles entering the nearby Grosvenor Road base.

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© 2007 Irish Republican News