New IRA's political party Saoradh ditches Belfast leader in bust-up

Harry Fitzsimons at Laganside Court
Harry Fitzsimons at Laganside Court
Dee Fennell
Dee Fennell

The New IRA’s political party Saoradh has dismissed Harry Fitzsimons as its Belfast leader.

The Sunday World can exclusively reveal that the split in the dissident republican group, that has also led to mass resignations, stems from a dispute centred on north Belfast man Dee Fennell. 

Sources close to the row have revealed that Fitzsimons, currently on bail charged alongside other prominent dissidents Alec McCrory and Colin Duffy, raised a number of concerns with the group’s leadership about the activities of Fennell and a small group of his supporters based in Ardoyne.

These tensions recently came to the surface over a row after a banner was removed in Ardoyne.

Fitzsimons approached the leadership of Saoradh including Davy Jordan, Paul Duffy and their respective partners Sharon Rafferty and Mandy Duffy yet the leadership refused to investigate.

Instead they threw their support behind motor-mouth Fennell, who they have publicly been promoting for some time, dismissing the republican veteran.

The fallout from their decision has led to mass resignations from the republican group in Belfast including prominent figures Sean Cahill and Kevin Craddock. 

One source told the Sunday World: “Harry is a well-respected republican who has never shied away from action, Fennell’s contribution is to stand on a footpath with a placard. It’s a disgrace that the Duffys and the people close to them have sought to undermine Harry and people are openly questioning their motivation.”

Other sources claim Fitzsimons has been questioning Duffy and the fact he has had charges against him dropped and that the he is inaudible in the covert taped recordings made by the PSNI which led to all of their arrests. 

“Harry has raised his concerns about the way in which the trial was progressing and the surprise decision to drop many of the charges being faced by Collie Duffy, some think this is an attempt by the Duffys to silence Harry before the full extent of these concerns become public, others think it’s payback for questioning him,” the dissident contact said.

The bitter dispute has put a focus on the position of Fitzsimons’ co-accused in the ongoing terrorism trial, Alec McCrory. 

 The Saoradh logo

Duffy has already backed his brother in the heave against Fitzsimons but Alec McCrory’s position is less clear. Members of his family have publicly supported Fitzsimons since the row became public. 

“Alec is trying to stay out of the row and ride both horses but that position won’t be tenable for long as the next court appearance looms. Alec is going to have to make a call, there is no room for a middle ground, he either backs his long-standing comrade Harry or he backs a mouthpiece who is wrecking the movement’s credibility every time he opens his mouth.” 

The Sunday World understands that the dispute is far from over, with Fitzsimons vowing to expose the faction around Fennell and those in the Saoradh leadership who have decided to ignore his warnings about their activities.

“Harry is absolutely raging at the way this has been handled, he is particularly annoyed at those members of the party Executive from west Belfast who have so far remained silent. This is far from over, this will get very nasty, very quickly.”

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