Real IRA boss McKevitt attacks Sinn Féin as he is released from prison
Published 29/03/2016 | 00:00
Former Real IRA leader Michael McKevitt launched a stinging attack on his former Sinn Féin colleagues and questioned the party's claim to be republican, as he was released from prison.
"When I look at Sinn Féin, I believe their behaviour is akin to that of the looters on the streets of Dublin in 1916.
"They have turned the centenary commemoration into a financial racket, exploiting it for all they can. Shameful is probably the best description that I can use," he said.
McKevitt, who is battling cancer, has just been released from Portlaoise prison after serving 15 years on charges of directing terrorism and IRA membership.
He also refused to state that dissident republican paramilitaries should end their campaign of violence in the North.
In a statement, he said: "It is immaterial as to whether I agree or disagree - armed struggle or guerrilla warfare is a tactic which has been around for hundreds of years.
"Historically, the only form of resistance in Ireland that the British actually took notice of was armed struggle like they did in 1916 and in every decade since."
As quarter-master general of the IRA, McKevitt broke away from the Provisionals to form the Real IRA in 1997 and become a high-profile opponent of the Adams-McGuinness leadership.
Speaking about the 1916 centenary, he claimed it had become popular "to be seen and heard rebel rousing" but that many of those involved had no right to do so.
"Political parties of all persuasions are tripping over themselves to commemorate the violent uprising of 1916. How can they, who have accepted the partition of Ireland, lay claim to the legacy of 1916?"
McKevitt was released from E2 'Republican Landing' of Portlaoise prison.
McKevitt was one of four people found liable in a civil case for the 1998 Omagh bomb in which 29 people were killed.
The former Real IRA leader denied that he had any involvement in the bombing and claimed he had never been questioned in relation to it.