32 County Sovereignty Movement

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32 County Sovereignty Movement
Formation 1997 (1997)
Type Political organisation/pressure group
Purpose Physical force Irish republicanism
(Linked to the Real Irish Republican Army),
Region served Ireland
Chairman Francie Mackey[1]
Website www.32csm.net

The 32 County Sovereignty Movement, often abbreviated to 32CSM or 32csm, is an Irish republican separatist group founded by Bernadette Sands McKevitt.[2][3]The 32 County Sovereignty Movement do not contest elections, rather they are a pressure group, with branches or "cumann" organised throughout the 32 counties of Ireland.The 32CSM are often referred to as the 'political wing' of the Real IRA.[4][3][5][6] Many of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement's founding members had previously been members of Sinn Féin and they were also involved with a sub-group within Sinn Féin called the "32 County Sovereignty Committee."[citation needed]


  • "The restoration of Irish national sovereignty".
  • "To seek to achieve unity among the Irish people on the issue of restoring national sovereignty and to promote the revolutionary ideals of republicanism and to this end involve itself in resisting all forms of colonialism and imperialism."
  • "To seek the immediate and unconditional release of all Irish republican prisoners throughout the world."[7]


The organisation was founded on 7 December 1997 at a meeting of like minded Republicans in Finglas in Dublin.[3]Those present were opposed to the direction taken by Sinn Féin and other mainstream republican politicians in the peace process, which would lead to the Belfast Agreement (also known as the Good Friday Agreement) the following year. The same division in the republican movement led to the paramilitary group now known as the Real IRA breaking away from the Provisional Irish Republican Army at around the same time. The 32 County Sovereignty Movement is often considered to be the 'political wing' of the Real IRA,[4][3][5] although members reject the term.[8]

Most of its founders had been members of Sinn Féin; some had been expelled from the Sinn Féin party, for challenging the Sinn Féin leadership's direction, and others felt they had not been properly able to air their concerns within Sinn Féin at the direction its leadership had taken. Bernadette Sands McKevitt, a sister of hunger striker Bobby Sands and wife of Michael McKevitt, was a prominent member of the group until a split in the organisation.

The name refers to the 32 counties of Ireland which were created by the Kingdom of Ireland and claimed by the Irish people through the Irish Republic declared in 1916 and voted overwhelmingly in by a fully franchised electorate in 1919. Due to the partition of Ireland in 1920–22, twenty-six of these counties formed the Irish Free State which became the Republic of Ireland, and the other six in what became Northern Ireland remain part of the United Kingdom.

Before the referendums on the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the 32CSM lodged a legal submission[9] with the United Nations challenging British sovereignty in Ireland. The referendums were opposed by the 32CSM, but were supported by 71% of voters in Northern Ireland and by 94% in the Republic of Ireland.

In November 2005 the 32CSM launched a political initiative titled Irish Democracy, A Framework For Unity.

On May 24, 2014, Gary Donnelly, an member of 32 Country Sovereignty Moment was elected to the Derry and Strabane super council.[10][11]

In July 2014, a delegation from the 32 County Sovereignty Movement traveled to Canada, to take part in a six day long speaking tour. On arrival the delegation was detained and refused entry into Canada. [12]


The 32CSM have protested against what they call "Internment by Remand" in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

32CSM march to commemorate Easter Rising. Dublin. April 2010

Other protests include ones against former Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader Ian Paisley; in Cobh, Co. Cork, against former British Prime Minister John Major being given the Keys to Cork City, against a visit to the Republic of Ireland by Police Service of Northern Ireland head Sir Hugh Orde, and against the Israeli occupation of Palestine and Anglo-American occupation of Iraq.


The 32 County Sovereignty Movement has often been critical of the Real IRA's military actions.[13] However, the group is currently considered a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) in the United States, since the group is considered to be inseparable from the Real IRA, who are designated as an FTO.[14][15] At a briefing in 2001, the spokesman for US Department of State stated that "evidence provided by both the British and Irish governments and open source materials demonstrate clearly that the individuals who created the Real IRA also established these two entities to serve as the public face of the Real IRA. These alias organizations engage in propaganda and fundraising on behalf of and in collaboration with the Real IRA." The US Department of State's designation made it illegal for Americans to provide material support to the Real IRA, requires US financial institutions to block the group's assets and denies alleged RIRA members visas into the US.[16][14]


  1. ^ "Alan Ryan commemoration 2014". 32csm.com. 6 September 2014. 
  2. ^ "The bombers have blown a hole in more than the BBC". The Guardian. 5 March 2001. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Links with terror group rejected". BBC. 17 August 1997. 
  4. ^ a b http://www.redpepper.org.uk/natarch/xLondon-dirtywar.html[dead link]
  5. ^ a b "My secret meeting with Real IRA", Daily Mail
  6. ^ Irish press example
  7. ^ 32CSM
  8. ^ "Republicans will kill again warns local group". The Impartial Reporter. 21 Apr 2011. 
  9. ^ Submission to the UN
  10. ^ "Gary Donnelly elected in Derry & Strabane". BBC. 24 May 2014. 
  11. ^ "Dissident republican Gary Donnelly takes Derry and Strabane super council seat and faces IRA bomb motion". The Belfast Telegraph. 12 June, 14.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  12. ^ "Canadian detention a ‘political decision’ – Francis Mackey". Ulster Herald. Retrieved 20 August 2014. 
  13. ^ After the Omagh bomb attack, the organisation issued a statement saying "the killing of innocent people could not be justified," and that it was "deeply saddened and devastated" by the attack. From "Links with terror group rejected", BBC News, 17 August 1998
  14. ^ a b US Department of State, Office of Counterterrorism Fact sheet 2005
  15. ^ "Real IRA designated terrorists". The Telegraph. 17 May 2001. 
  16. ^ US Department of State, Real IRA Designation (Taken question)

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