Leading dissident republican David Jordan from Donaghmore has been elected as the first national chairperson of the newly formed political party ‘Saoradh’.
High profile dissidents from both sides of the border, including Colin Duffy from Lurgan, were among about 150 people at its first Ard Fheis in the Canal Court Hotel in Newry on Saturday.
A 12-strong executive sat at the top table under a banner of the 1916 leaders. They included Sharon Rafferty from Pomeroy who recently served a sentence for her involvement in a dissident training camp near Greencastle and Kevin Murphy, a former Real IRA prisoner from Coalisland.
Mr Jordan is currently on bail facing a charge of carrying out a bomb attack on an off-duty police officer in Spamount in May 2008.
He is accused of the attempted murder of Constable Ryan Crozier, causing an explosion likely to endanger life and membership of a proscribed organisation, namely the IRA.
He told the conference he found the experience of being elected as chairperson of the party to be “humbling, daunting, intimidating yet empowering”.
In his address he was scathing of Sinn Féin, who he described as “false prophets”.
Mr Jordan said, “In Ireland today the term republican has been hijacked and misused to refer to a group of people who purport to oppose British imperialism and all it entails, but the reality is far from that.
“In realpolitik they are a section of counter revolutionaries, subsumed into the establishment to administer British rule in Ireland… Those who sit in pay with our national oppressor while claiming to champion our liberation are false prophets who have been defeated and consumed by the very system they claim to oppose.”
The party has the support of prisoners from the dissident group referred to as the New IRA in Maghaberry and Portlaoise prisons.
Saoradh’s constitution states that it may, at some point, contest elections. However it states that participation in elections to the Assembly, Westminster or the Dáil would be on an abstentionist basis, meaning seats would not be taken if a candidate was elected.
In his Easter Sunday address in Coalisland, commemorating the centenary of the 1916 Rising, Mr Jordan made several references to using a “vehicle” to put forward the message of dissident republicans.
Commentators at the time speculated he was talking about the formation of a political party.
There is no suggestion that the formation of the party is a signal that dissident republican organisations are considering an end to violence.