Republican hardliners urged to unite
Republican hardliners urged to unite

The former head of Irish Northern Aid, Martin Galvin, has urged republicans of all factions to unite to draw up a new strategy to defeat the British, in opposition to Sinn Fein.

Addressing a rally near Dundalk to commemorate IRA legend Brendan Hughes, the New York lawyer slammed the peace process as a sell-out of republican ideals.

Known as ‘the Dark’, Hughes was the IRA’s Belfast Brigade commander during the height of the Troubles and led the first H-Block hunger-strike.

Once Gerry Adams’ best friend, he died three years ago accusing his former comrades of betrayal. At the weekend, republicans from all over Ireland gathered in the Cooley Mountains, where Hughes’ ashes are scattered, to honour him.

Many of Hughes’ former IRA comrades attended the commemoration.

In a hardline speech, Galvin said: “The British think it’s all done and dusted. David Cameron believes republicans are defeated just as Margaret Thatcher did.

“But Brendan Hughes and the blanketmen weren’t beaten. They remained determined despite everything the British threw at them. Today, republicans can forge a unity and strategy to break through once more.

“We can get back on the path to a united and free Ireland which unrepentant Fenians like Brendan, and so many others, sacrificed so much to win.”

Galvin denounced the Sinn Féin leaders, who were once his close allies, for having accepted British rule: “Becoming Stormont ministers, serving on (policing) boards, and entering a partnership with the DUP won’t unite Ireland.”

Galvin said Hughes was appalled at Sinn Fein’a compromises: “The very suggestion he repent or disown his part in the struggle to make himself politically acceptable to the British or to a Paisley or Robinson led Stormont would have been answered with, ‘Cop yourself on!’

“Brendan was an IRA soldier whose courage and determination overflowed into those beside him, instilling confidence that the overwhelming military advantages held by the British crown forces would somehow be overcome.”

Galvin also blasted Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Sinn Féin Assembly members for welcoming David Cameron to Stormont last week and for applauding his speech:

“Republicans are expected to repent their past. But there was no repentance from Cameron for the Ballymurphy Massacre when 11 civilians were murdered by the Paras in 1971.

“There was no repentance for shoot-to-kill, internment, collusion with loyalist death squads or the many other unjustifiable acts done in the name of British rule.”

In 1984, Galvin – who was banned from British jurisdiction – dramatically defied the authorities by appearing at a Sinn Féin anti-internment rally in West Belfast. As Gerry Adams introduced him to speak, the RUC stormed the crowd, trying in vain to arrest him before shooting dead Sean Downes (22) with a plastic bullet.

The former Noraid boss said he was horrified Sinn Féin were now “trying to silence” republicans who disagreed with them. He praised Hughes and others for “having the courage to speak out”.

He pointed to the “brutality” being endured by republican prisoners in Maghaberry jail and said Sinn Féin should be ashamed of itself for backing Stormont Justice Minister David Ford.

Galvin also lammed the authorities for revoking the license of Old Bailey bomber Marian Price who is being held in isolation in Maghaberry. It was “disgraceful” that Gerry Kelly – Price’s fellow bomber – now supported the system imprisoning her, he said.

The American, who has been an outspoken champion of the republican movement for decades, said it was hypocritical that Tyrone republican, Gerry McGeough, was recently jailed on charges from over 30 years ago while Crown force members involved in “shoot-to-kill, collusion murders, or even torture” had received an amnesty.

Former Sinn Féin South Armagh representative, Jim McAllister, also addressed the rally. He said Hughes’s disillusionment at Sinn Fein was growing among republicans.

McAllister said that at Sinn Féin meetings, Adams had often compared the republican struggle to “a bus ride to Cork”, explaining how there would be “stops and reverses” as people got on and off.

“Well, Gerry’s not on that bus to Cork now. He’s on the pig’s back while many of those who followed him are on the dole. Gerry and his pals have their holiday homes while unemployment in west Belfast is as bad as the first day he got elected,” McAllister said.

He claimed Hughes had inspired a new generation of republicans: “Brendan believed in building an Ireland that would benefit everyone, especially those at the bottom of the pile.

“Power for power’s sake, winning elections for the sake those fighting them, helping to administer partition – these weren’t his goals.

“Gerry Adams’ u-turn was a betrayal of Brendan as a friend and a republican, just as it’s a betrayal of all who thought the whole thing was about getting rid of Stormont and British rule and creating a democratic, socialist Republic.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News