“We’d be the traditional crowd, we never changed” – An interview with the only elected dissident republican in the Republic of Ireland

The story of how Sinn Féin left the path of violence and entered mainstream politics is well-known, but what about those who never accepted the compromises? One such group is Republican Sinn Féin, which split off in 1986 rather than recognise the Dáil as the legitimate parliament of Ireland. The party is on the margins of Irish politics and holds the distinction of being the only party in the 26 counties that opposed the Good Friday Agreement.

Yet it is not completely without support and does have one elected representative. Tomás Ó Curraoin was first elected to Galway County Council in 2009 and re-elected in 2014 and 2019, representing the district of Connemara South. He’s an old-fashioned man who admits “I don’t have a computer; I can’t work it and I haven’t a clue even about turning it on.” He left school at 13 and spent 17 years in England working as a manual labourer.

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