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Dissident party stands by decision to expel chair

By Suzanne Breen

A new dissident republican party has defended its decision to expel leading Belfast republican, Harry Fitzsimons.

Saoradh also said it was disappointed that 23 of its members in the city had resigned in support of Fitzsimons.

The Belfast Telegraph yesterday revealed that the members had quit the party, accusing Saoradh's leadership of behaving like "a kangaroo court and lynch mob".

They claimed that Fitzsimons, who was the party's Belfast chairman, had made allegations of "financial irregularities" before he was expelled.

They also said that he had separately clashed with Ardoyne republican, Dee Fennell, whom they accused of "egoism" and "trying to take control of Belfast with his clique".

Saoradh, which is supported by New IRA prisoners, was launched just 10 months ago in Newry, with high-profile dissidents Colin Duffy and Alex McCrory in attendance.

In a statement yesterday, Saoradh expressed disappointed that some Belfast members had resigned, but said that the decision to expel Fitzsimons had been authorised by its national executive and he had been "afforded due process".

A party spokesman said that it investigated "all matters, including that of its members' conduct, which come to the attention of the party, impartially".

Saoradh said it would not be distracted by "deliberate opportunism of sections of the media or by the naive or deliberate actions of individuals".

Harry Fitzsimons is one of the most senior republicans in Northern Ireland.

The 48-year-old west Belfast man is currently out on bail facing charges of directing terrorism, preparing terrorist acts and being in a banned organisation - the IRA.

He and his two co-accused, Colin Duffy and Alex McCrory, have denied all the charges they are facing. The charges relate to an attack on police in north Belfast in 2013.

Saoradh, which is Irish for 'liberation', has headquarters on the Falls Road, which were raided by police earlier this month.

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