TPQ regular Martin Galvin with a letter that featured in the Irish News on Christmas Eve 2014. Martin Galvin is a US lawyer and an astute observer of British state policy in Ireland.
Allow me to respond to the headline (Anti-Sinn Fein Republican given leading role in New York parade) and banner (Dissident Republican threat), which accompanied your December 12, report on my being elected Aide to the Grand Marshal in New York’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
I am no more an ‘anti-Sinn Fein Republican’ than I was ever an ‘anti-SDLP Nationalist’. I am an Irish Republican and make no apology for wanting an end of British rule and real justice in a united Ireland. Call me a Republican, even an Independent Republican to reflect political differences with Sinn Fein. I am not against the party itself but against party policies which are being manipulated by the British to cement their hold on the north.
Some readers may be aware that I stood with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, literally as well as politically, in circumstances where it was not easy to do so. I left the fold reluctantly. I feared that measures taken to be opening the door to Irish justice would be maneuvered by the British to nail that door shut. I would happily have gone back to support them if I had been wrong. There are no such signs as David Cameron and his appointee Theresa Villiers bludgeon through cuts while long-fingering past British crimes into oblivion, or sanction the DUP to treat any moves for justice like toilet paper.
I publicly took to this Letter’s Page to side with Sinn Fein in supporting John Downey. I made the same arguments just as strongly for Gerry McGeough, and Seamus Kearney. The British arrest Ivor Bell on decade’s old charges, and renege on OTR immunity certificates, while maintaining de facto impunity for Bloody Sunday, the Ballymurphy Massacre and crown collusion murderers. I do not take up these injustices, to score some political points about places on constabulary boards or partnerships, but to try for new Republican political strategies which can overcome such injustices. Republican positions will become stronger, if we can argue the merits of strategies in good faith, instead of dismissing facts because the proponent may be with or not with Sinn Fein.
Finally it is unclear to me why anyone should label my marching behind Cardinal Dolan at the front of New York’s great St. Patrick’s Day Parade, as a threat, dissident, or otherwise. It would only be controversial if we forgot that there will be six contingents in the parade representing counties where freedom from British rule is still only an aspiration.