Geraldine speaks out on her RSF dismissal

By Francesca Ryan

f.ryan@belfastmediagroup.com

The former Vice-President of Republican Sinn Féin has spoken out for the first time about her dismissal from the party.

Geraldine Taylor says she can no longer keep quiet about the events of last summer as rumours abound on republican internet forums about her and other members of RSF in West Belfast.

The Twinbrook woman also claims that Ruairí ó Brádaigh, the founder of RSF who died last June, would be “turning in his grave” if he were to witness the antics of the current RSF leadership.

The fall-out centred around claims made about two members of the party who  worked in the Falls RSF office along with Geraldine.

“Two people I have worked closely with for years were having their characters assassinated and they were guilty of nothing,” she explained. “I spoke up for them and was dismissed with them.”

Geraldine explained the lead-up to the shock dismissals last summer.

“There was a claim that money had gone missing from the books at our Falls Road office, a few hundred pounds, but when the books were done, everything was fine and was all accounted for,” she said. “There was a row at the 2012 Ard Comhairle over it and I demanded an apology for the two members that had been accused. Instead, we were told an internal inquiry would take place. We were denied a copy of the report, which took about seven months to complete, but were finally given the report by an advocate for the defence ahead of the meeting to discuss the findings.

“The report accused the two people of misleading the leadership and the misappropriation of funds.  We were prepared to defend these accusations, I was personally ready to defend them because I ran the office and I knew no money had gone missing. Then Ruairí ó Brádaigh  passed away and the meeting was postponed. I was later told that the two members had been found guilty and there would be no meeting, no opportunity to defend them.”

Infuriated at the prospect of the case being closed without any right to reply, Geraldine spoke up for the duo once more.

“I queried the stance and asked where the justice was when there was no evidence to back the accusation and nobody was given a chance to defend themselves,” she explained. “I was asked if I was withdrawing support for the leadership and I said yes, I couldn’t support a leadership that behaved like this. The whole Joe McKelvey/Jimmy Steele Cumann of Belfast was stood down and dismissed, including me. The advocate who gave us a copy of the report was also dismissed.”

Geraldine says she was distressed by her dismissal but had planned to maintain a dignified silence – until a recent series of claims on republican internet forums.

“Apparently people – and everyone knows who they are – are claiming on these republican forums that I had joined another group. To name me and say this is felon-setting and that’s why I am speaking out now.

“I have been very angry and frustrated since this all happened but haven’t said a word. Now I feel I have to clarify what happened as rumours are being spread.  The leadership won’t forgive me for this, but that’s the truth.”

Geraldine also insists the leadership of RSF is flawed and at fault in respect of the way it handled her dismissal.

“I am clarifying my position about these claims made against me online,” she said. “I want to make it clear why I and others were dismissed. This has to do with a leadership that would not give two members the right to defend themselves.

“I owed it to these two people, as former VP, to defend them and help them clear their names. They are two good people who gave their lives to the office.

“To think this all happened within a month of Ruairí’s passing,” she added. “He would be turning in his grave because he always had justice at heart. He was fair and genuine and he would never have let this happen.

“This has sickened me, and I’m speaking as someone who has been there since the party’s inception. I still believe that RSF is the rightful heir to republicanism, but the leadership needs to change.”

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