Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta

National Irish Freedom Committee


Amidst a standing room only crowd at Rocky Sullivan's pub, the merits of Provisional Sinn Fein's decision to encourage republicans to join the British police force was hotly debated. Arguing against the decision were John McDonagh and Sandy Boyer, producers of the New York based radio program Radio Free Eireann. Arguing in support of the decision were political activist Liam Nellis and Larry Zaitschek, who is currently fighting extradition.

Sandy Boyer opened the debate by arguing that the only way to change the corrupt British police force was by remaining outside of the British system. Liam Nellis responded to that argument by stating that the people of northern Ireland deserved a police force that would protect them, and the only way that it could be achieved would be by joining the force, and trying to create change from within.

John McDonagh countered that argument by stating that when Nelson Mandela was released from jail he did not urge people to join the Afrikan police force, but worked towards creating a new political state with a new police force. He argued that the republicans who joined the British police force would become part of the effort to enforce British rule, which would include spying on fellow republicans, arresting them and testifying against them in court.

Larry Zaitschek, wearing a shirt that said "The P.S.N.I. are still holding my son hostage," argued that while he knew that the British police force was corrupt, he believed that the only option for change was to have republicans join the police force to find out who the bad officers are, and report them.

Members of the audience were then given the opportunity to make brief statements. Although divided in views, without exception all speakers acknowledged the corruption within the British police force.

Final comments were then made by the debaters. Liam Nellis read a letter from a former republican prisoner, who stated that he did not want to see any more violence, and thought that joining the British police force was the only option available. John McDonagh ended the debate by pointing out that in the course of the 800 year struggle for independence, trying to become part of the corrupt establishment had been tried, and had failed. He told the audience that there were many republicans currently running for office, including Peggy O'Hara, mother of Hunger Striker Patsy O'Hara, who, if they won a seat, would abstain from sitting, and continue to fight politically without becoming part of the British regime. He spoke of the support in New York for the candidates that were running on a platform of opposition to joining the British police force, and against the Stormont government.

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