West Belfast will see a battle for the republican vote after eirigi named two candidates who will stand against Sinn Fein in the Belfast City Council elections in both wards along the Falls Road.
Padraic MacCoitir will contest a council seat in the Upper Falls constituency, while John McCusker will run for election in the Lower Falls area.
Sinn Fein has said it welcomes the electoral contest.
Mr MacCoitir, who lives in Lenadoon, is a republican ex-prisoner and former blanketman and has been involved in politics since the 70s.
“When I first became involved in the republican struggle, the goals of the civil rights movement were making the headlines - including the right to a job and the right to a home,” he said.
“Forty years later, these very basic and very limited demands have still not been achieved.
“This is why there is a need for a party like eirigi to stand in these elections - to reinvigorate the struggle for social and economic justice and the fight against partition and the British occupation.”
Mr McCusker, who is 33 and from the Falls Road, has a masters degree in international politics and says he has been involved in the republican struggle all his adult life.
“In light of the current economic crisis, it is clear that the old solutions and the old institutions have failed west Belfast miserably,” he said.
“What eirigi is bringing to this election is a platform that stands for active opposition to British government and Stormont cuts, a platform that offers an alternative to discrimination, poverty and partition and a platform that stands for rebuilding strong, vibrant communities.
Announcing their candidature, eirigi chairman Brian Leeson said: “eirigi is standing in this election to give the working class people of west Belfast an opportunity to say enough is enough.
“The fight back against poverty and partition, against inequality and exploitation starts now and there are no two better people to be at the forefront of that fight than John McCusker and Padraic MacCoitir.”
He added: “Elections will constitute only part of that fight back. Ultimately, real change in this society will only come about when enough people get politically active in their communities, on the streets and in their workplaces.”
Meanwhile, the DUP minister Edwin Poots has claimed that Irish republicanism had been “well and truly tamed” and that a united Ireland is firmly off the agenda thanks to the efforts the DUP.
Speaking at the party’s annual dinner in Craigavon Civic Centre, Mr Poots said: “Republicans have failed to achieve any of their strategic goals towards Irish unity.
“Irish republicanism has been tamed and Northern Ireland is a more successful part of the United Kingdom. People who spent years trying to destroy the infrastructure of the country are now arguing for more investment.”
The 2011 Six-County Assembly and local council elections will be held on May 5.