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Editorial: Republican ‘family’ dispute

February 15, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Within the last week, Irish republicans who disagree with the current peace process and the agreement that was its outcome have been visiting the U.S. trying to get their message across. Bernadette Devlin McAliskey, the veteran civil rights activist and socialist republican, was in New York and San Francisco. Bernadette Sands McKevitt and Rory Dougan, ex-members of the Provisional republican movement and now part of the 32 County Sovereignty Committee, spoke at venues here and in New Jersey and Washington, DC.

The agreement’s critics have found themselves under attack, both in print and at the meetings where they spoke. Sometimes the attacks were bitter and personal.

This is regrettable, but far from surprising, given the nature of the changes that the Republican movement is undergoing at present. Throughout its history, there have similar upheavals, many of which, unfortunately, have led to more than a mere verbal falling out as former comrades found themselves suddenly on opposite sides of a divisive dispute.

Words like betrayal and traitor come too easily in such circumstances. Bernadette Devlin McAliskey for one knows from bitter experience the consequences of the kind of rancor that Republican disputes engender. Seamus Costello, a close friend of Devlin McAliskey’s who split from the Official IRA in 1974, was murdered by former comrades three years later. He was not the only one. Many died violently as the Republican family fought one feud after another. One thing to be remembered about that family is this: it has a fratricidal tendency. So it is better not to say or do anything which might encourage it.

Devlin McAliskey, speaking in San Francisco, wisely tried to tone down the whole bitter wrangle. She called for a meeting of all Republicans where the various differences can be discussed. Her appeal was

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