I’ve written before (like yesterday and back in March) about the dangers to peace in Northern Ireland that come with alienated and disenfranchised youths in both Loyalist and Nationalist communities. Not old enough to remember how bad things were during the bad old days of the Troubles, they are seen as ripe for recruiting by paramilitaries on both sides.
I was plenty aware of this in the North, but it came as a little bit of a surprise to see, as Vice News reported (the video is above), that recruiting is also happening in the South, what dissident Republicans derisively refer to as the Free State.
The youth organization featured in the story, Na Fianna Éireann (“Warriors of Ireland” is the English translation), is linked to Republican Sinn Fein, which split from Sinn Fein in 1986 in a dispute over Republican orthodoxy and political strategy. It was interesting to see familiar faces of people I’ve met (like Josephine Hayden) and interviewed (RSF president Des Dalton). RSF has in turn been linked to the armed dissident group the Continuity IRA, which in May released photos of its volunteers “patrolling” the streets of a housing estate in Lurgan.
The Vice News report runs 20 minutes and is well worth the time to get a snapshot of dissident Republican ideology and look at the kids that groups like RSF think represent the future of the struggle.