Republicans gathered in the Tower Hotel in Derry last week to form a new coalition bringing together several republican groups to oppose Sinn Féin’s political strategy.
The new umbrella group, called the Republican Forum for Unity, is seeking to unite the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, the Irish Republican Socialist Party, the Republican Network for Unity, and a number of independent republicans who are opposed to the strategy of Sinn Féin.
The organisers of last week’s debate say the new group will involve all existing groups in discussions on the future of republicanism.
The meeting came after the PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde claimed the threat level from republican groups such as the ‘Real IRA’ and Continuity IRA is at its highest for six years.
One of the organisers of the meeting, Danny McBrearty from the Republican Network for Unity, said the initiative is already getting a good response from local republicans. “The forum will hopefully serve to get input from the various groups and find the best way to move forward and formulate strategy and provide a real alternative to the farce at Stormont,” he said.
Breakaway group political party eirigi is not involved in the new republican alliance. Its organisers have been focussing on holding a number of meetings around the 1980 and 1981 hunger strikes in Dublin, Belfast and County Armagh. The meetings, which are part of the group’s activist-based campaign strategy, heard from some of those who took part in the prison campaign at that time, including Tommy McKearney, Feargus O hIr, Bernard Fox, and Jake Mac Siacais.
On Sunday, around one hundred Derry republicans took part in a commemoration march to mark the 30th anniversary of the death of IRA volunteer Patsy Duffy.
Mr Duffy was shot dead by the SAS as he went to check on an arms dump in a house in Derry in November 1978.
The march, which was organised by the 32 County Sovereignty Movement and the Duffy family, began at the Brandywell grotto and made its way to the Republican Plot in the City Cemetery.
A number of PSNI landrovers accompanied the parade and marchers were told they were taking part in an illegal parade before it set off.
In the cemetery, wreaths were laid on behalf of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement (32CSM), the Duffy family, and Oglaigh na h’Eireann. The main oration was given by Marian Price, the national secretary of the 32CSM, who told the crowd that the republican movement is being rebuilt.
“Republicanism is alive and well and it’s the only ideology and plan for Ireland that hasn’t been tried and it was time that it was put into action. We are beginning to rebuild the republican movement and from here it’s onwards and upwards,” she said.