Brexit a 'huge opportunity' for republicans and dissidents

Newstalk.com looks at the future of republicanism in the first of a two-part series

Republicans, Ireland, Brexit prison officer, 1916, dissidents,

Masked members of the Real IRA attend the Easter commemoration of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement in 2010 in Creggan, Co Derry | Image: RollingNews.ie

This past weekend marked the 18th anniversary of the signing of the Good Friday agreement.

The 'coming of age' of the deal was celebrated by politicians on both sides of the border - but the document is still heavily opposed by dissident republicans.

But who are we talking about when we talk about 'dissidents' - and what is the status and future of republicanism?

It can be difficult to get definitive figure on exactly how many groups there are, due to the amount of sub-groups and splinter groups.

They are an array of paramilitary, political and activist groups which are very active on both sides of the border - and have been rallying around the centenary of 1916 as a chance to take stock, recruit and step-up.

Newstalk.com's Richard Chambers has been speaking to republicans across the island.

In Derry, he met with three prominent Republicans - each former prisoners for their parts in the conflict.

They were Gary Donnelly - Independent Councillor for Derry/Strabane - who is a member of 32 County Sovereignty Movement linked to the Real IRA.

Martin McMonagle - of the Irish Republican Socialist Party - previously linked to the old INLA - and Independent Warren Robinson.

They also touched on the recent murder of prison officer Adrian Ismay, and its implications.

Where do these groups feel they get their mandate from? Representatives in Derry give their view on the legitimacy of groups like the New IRA and their actions.

On this side of the border, there has been a big campaign looking into paramilitaries who gardaí say have increased their activity in recent months - particularly cross-border.

One group is Na Fianna Éireann, which is described as the Irish Republican boy-scout movement.

Two of their members - 17-year-olds Seamus and Sean - talk about how they came into the Republican fold, and about those drills.

Na Fianna's members would say they do not advocate violence and are like-minded in their Republican ethos.

They also give their reaction was to protests at Easter.

Republican Sinn Féin President Des Dalton (first speaker below) says the current situation in the UK is a unique opportunity.

Others however would be less certain.