There has in recent years been sizeable movement in republican politics toward building a ‘united’ front, or increased co-operation among the non-GFA groupings.
Prominent Belfast members of the 1916 societies have publicly suggested or even hinted at a process which would further enhance the unity ‘project’. And others seem to have that project at the heart of their foundation. RNU were formed in the wake of the Irish Republican Forum for Unity, an initiative, though unsuccessful at bringing several different groups like the IRSP, ex-prisoners and others together, helped to form a new grouping who’s intent would always be a united republican family. The RNU has since put forward it’s vision for such an outcome.
There are now a number of different political groupings amongst what is often referred to as the ‘dissident’ camp. A badge of honour for some and a term that others look upon with disdain. It’s fair to say though, that all groups are known for their non-support of the ‘Good Friday Agreement’ – most of them were formed in the years since and in the wake if it’s ongoing implementation. And they all actively campaign against it.
IRSP – Republican Sinn Féin – 32 County Sovereignty Movement – éirígí – RNU – 1916 Societies.
There is no denying that each of these individual groups represent a very small part of the political spectrum. So one can see the obvious benefits in an amalgamated republican alternative to the status quo. Each of these groups has a support base, an activist base, a core nucleus of people that keep each individual machine ticking over. And if united – an organisation that would stretch into every county of Ireland. Who could stop us then?
So how do you define Unity? Is it unity of organisation? Unity of outcome? Of ideology? Strategy? – it is clear that there is much that divides us.
For there to be any kind of broad coalition among the Republican groupings there must be a unity of ideas. And what do all these groups have in common except Republicanism? The one thought that unites us all.
The only imaginable outcome of any unity project is a consolidated Republican family without any of the trappings of Socialism. Concessions must be made in the process of bringing people together. A slow removal of each divisive ideological world-view until you’re left with one broad church of republicanism. And in that you would have still the Socialists, the Capitalists, the Anarchists, the Federalists, the church-going pro-life lobby, the pro-choice campaigners, the physical force strategists – you get the point.
What you’re left with, is a recipe for disaster.
Such a group negotiated with the British in 1921-22. Another debated Leinster House in 85-86 and their rump engaged in another process in the mid-nineties – the outcome of which we know only too well, each grouping owes its existence to it.
Hope may be found in the ideological stance of some organisations.
Instead of Republican unity, Socialist Republicanism may offer an agreed approach for some to find common ground. Though even then stumbling blocks may be found amongst the rubble of egos, strategy, democratic process and old Party/Army organisational models.
It is the authors view that the best hope for the Socialist Republic may very well lie in division. And it’s a serious point. What is needed now is ideological unity. Unity around a very specific idea. Amongst this cacophony of groups someone with a very specific direction, strategy and analysis must step forward. One view must become the dominant outlook. One idea must win out.
It is likely that at some point one of these groups may become the dominant force in this small part of the broad political spectrum. Such a group would likely have it’s foundation in a single ideological position with a clear-thought strategy and an intent with a clear sense of direction. Such a group may well currently exist in this alphabet soup of organisations – and if it does, it has its eyes on the prize.
“Organise separately, march together” – Seamus Costello. One of these groups will bring the Republic – not all of them.