Tuesday 21 April 2009

And now Colin Duffy … !

The European Parliament election on 4 June is really starting to warm up. Apparently leading republican dissident Colin Duffy is considering standing under the Republican Network for Unity banner (though this has not yet been confirmed by the RNU themselves).

Duffy is, of course, a well known hate-figure for unionists who has moved away from Sinn Féin towards the republican dissidents, and who was recently arrested on suspicion of involvement in the Real IRA's killing of two British soldiers in Antrim.

The News Letter says that Duffy's brother, Paul, said the family was "seriously considering" the idea but would not make a decision for about a week.

If Duffy stands, the world will finally get a chance to see how little support the dissidents actually have. It will be embarrassing for them, but probably not enough that they will fold up. It will allow Northern Ireland's voters a wide spectrum of candidates to choose from – from the unreconstructed bigots of the TUV, through the DUP, UUP, Alliance, Green, SDLP, and Sinn Féin candidates, to the unreconstructed militarists of the republican fringes. If they all compete, we will have a clearer picture after the results are counted of where public opinion really stands.


Anonymous said...

I'd be surprised if he does stand as a poor show would really undermine their argument...remind me again what that is exactly?

Anonymous said...

Not from NI, so I apologize if my question is stupid. But don't the provo's have the ability to take these guys out? I know they disarmed, but I would imagine that they retained at least a few weapons. Are they really going to risk these guys undermining Sinn Fein and allowing a reaction from the loyalists who have yet to disarm. If things were to go off they are unlikely to get anywhere near the level of funding post 9/11 or from people in the south who could care less about the North right now. Seems like a dangerous situation for Republicans....am I wrong?

Horseman said...

Anonymous (not from NI),

There are a whole raft of reasons why the 'provos' would not take these people out, even if they did still have the weaponry.

Firstly, Sinn Féin has signed up to the new policing arrangements, and any 'taking people out' would torpedo their claim to support the PSNI, and the benefits that flow from that.

Secondly, if they did 'take people out' it would show that they retain weapons, which they certainly cannot admit to, even if its true. That would (a) show them to be liars, (b) put them back in the 'terrorist' doghouse, and (c) hand an enormous victory to unionists.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the dissidents are not actually much of a threat. They have miniscule active support (and Duffy's election campaign may show that they have miniscule electoral support too!). There is no particular reaon why the mainstream republicans would bother risking everything to wipe out a few irrelevant people. They are not (yet) targetting SF people, nor have they had much military success (recent events aside). They pose no electoral threat to Sinn Féin, and will, in time, dwindle away.

Lastly, the existence of the dissidents, armed or just argumentative, serves a useful purpose for Sinn Féin, as it shows them (SF) to be less extreme than otherwise might be the case. It allows SF to pose as moderate, reasonable, peaceful politicians, and diverts unionist extremism towards a dfferent target. The dissidents show that SF is not really the most extreme form of republicanism, and thus facilitates bridge-building.

SF have a long-term strategy and any reversion to militarism is not part of it. As time passes and the fruits of that strategy become more visible, the support that the disidents receive will probably evaporate.

Anonymous said...

I hope he does stand, SF will wipe the floor.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info

Anonymous said...

I don't think that Duffy would get much of a vote but it's a moot point just how many votes would be enough to encourage these headbangers. I can hear the oration already: 'Across the island thousands of Irishmen and Irishwomen are with us.' What constitutes electoral huminliation to people whose manadate comes from the opening decades of the last century?

Anonymous said...


hoboroad said...

Colin duffy and company are no threat to sinn féin politically speaking they are nobodies