Saturday 18 November 2017

SF to press ahead with talks to dissident republicans despite snub

Alan Murray

MARTIN McGuinness insisted yesterday that Sinn Fein would press ahead with arrangements to hold talks with dissident republicans despite an apparent rebuff from a main support group.

The 32 County Sovereignty Movement said on Friday that it had not made any specific commitment to meet a Sinn Fein delegation to discuss ongoing violence in Northern Ireland by dissident organisations including the Real IRA.

The group is understood to be politically close to the Real IRA, which carried out the Omagh bombing in 1998 and is continuing to mount a terrorist campaign in Northern Ireland.

On Friday, Sinn Fein Junior Minister Gerry Kelly confirmed that he would head a delegation from his party to discuss the ongoing violence in a bid to persuade the Real IRA and other groups to end their campaigns. Last week, a bomb exploded outside the Strand Road police station in Londonderry and a British Army Major escaped death when an under-car bomb fell off his car in the driveway of a friend's house in Bangor, County Down.

In another incident, 100 families were evacuated from their homes in a hoax bomb alert in west Belfast.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has criticised the dissidents for failing to provide representatives to give public explanations for their continued actions which, he says, have no prospect of overturning the peace process.

Speaking on the BBC Today programme yesterday, Martin McGuinness said the dissidents had no hope of critically damaging the peace process but said they were causing misery and disruption to many people.

He said that he and First Minister Peter Robinson had created a pact and had resolved not to be divided because of the anticipated rise in dissident violence over the summer months. The 32 County Sovereignty Movement has said that arrangements for discussions with Sinn Fein were not specific and that they would want to highlight the ongoing dirty protest in Maghaberry Prison by over 30 dissident prisoners.

The organisation said there were no firm plans for formal talks with Sinn Fein. Another organisation calling itself Oglaigh na hEireann is now regarded as the more dangerous of the dissident organizations and claimed responsibility for the Derry police station bombing last week and the unsuccessful attack on the British Army major. It has no political wing.

Sunday Independent

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