Donnelly calls for national sovereignty vote
Donnelly calls for national sovereignty vote

A leading dissident republican movement has said a vote on an all-Ireland basis on the question of Irish unity and national sovereignty could help bring an end to the conflict in Ireland.

Gary Donnelly, who stood as an Independent Republican in Derry in yesterday’s local government elections, said that armed action would “probably be morally wrong” if an all-Ireland vote resulted in the border being retained.

Mr Donnelly made the comment outside a polling station, just minutes after he refused to shake hands with Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness.

Mr Donnelly said the crucial issue for republicans was the question of national sovereignty.

“The people of Ireland have not had a chance to vote on an all-Ireland basis on the question of Irish unity and national sovereignty,” he said.

Asked if he would accept the outcome of such a referendum, Mr Donnelly said it would be undemocratic not to do so.

“I believe if you give the people of Ireland the democratic vote to determine their own future, that is democracy.

“Whatever way the people of Ireland vote, you have to abide by that.

“Even if they voted to retain the status quo, for anyone to then use the armed struggle in the event of that happening would probably be morally wrong to continue a campaign of violence after the people have spoken,” he said.

Mr Donnelly was then asked why he had earlier refused to shake hands with Martin McGuinness after the two met outside the polling station.

As Mr McGuinness walked past Mr Donnelly and into the polling station, neither acknowledged the other.

After Mr McGuinness left the polling station he walked towards Mr Donnelly and offered to shake his hand. Mr Donnelly stood with his hands in his pockets and stared straight ahead.

“I did not shake hands with Martin McGuinness.

“He approached me and offered his hand but I refused to shake his hand.

“I personally do not have a problem shaking anyone’s hand if they are sincere and genuine, but I have no trust in Martin McGuinness because he has launched a number of personal attacks on me and on the republican community, and I have a problem shaking hands with someone who, basically, I just do not trust,” Mr Donnelly said.

Mr McGuinness claimed Mr Donnelly, a member of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, was someone who was “prepared to destroy the peace process”.

“Yes he refused to shake my hand, but that is a matter for himself and for those he supports.

“They have refused to come into the room and discuss with people like myself and Gerry Adams, and indeed with Father Michael Canny, the folly of their actions.

“Some people still live in the past.

“I do not want to forget the past but I am living for the here and now and for the future of our children and grandchildren,” he said.


Mr Donnelly fell short of securing election on Thursday, falling 200 votes short of a seat to represent Derry’s Cityside. He nevertheless said he was “more than happy” with his first preference vote.

Mr Donnelly, a member of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, finished fifth in the five-seater ward in terms of first preference votes and was only eliminated from the election on the sixth and final late night count.

“I did not stand on a 32 County Sovereignty Committee ticket, I stood in defence of my community work and on working class issues,” he said.

“I have been challenged many times to prove I have a mandate, well the proof is now there and my detractors have got their answer,” Mr Donnelly added.

The Irish Republican Socialist Party also saw increased support, and were dramatically pipped for a seat in Strabane by half a vote on a recount.

In West Belfast, éirígí candidates polled more than 2,000 votes as Sinn Fein’s vote declined by over 3,000.

Pádraic Mac Coitir, who was standing the Upper Falls constituency, polled 1,415 votes [11.3 per cent], while John McCusker, who was standing in the Lower Falls constituency, polled 647 votes [6.6 per cent].

John McCusker said: “Despite claims to the contrary, it has now been proven beyond fear of contradiction that éirígí has a large support base in west Belfast.

“Last Thursday, more than 2,000 people took the effort to go out and declare their support for éirígí, its strategy and the politics of socialist republicanism. On behalf of éirígí, I would like to thank these people and encourage them to get onto the streets in opposition to the cuts in the time ahead.

“The republican struggle is, slowly but surely, being rebuilt and today was another positive development in that process.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News