Sinn Féin TD criticises Tánaiste’s speech to British-Irish Association
Conor Murphy describes Eamon Gilmore’s speech as ‘contentious’
Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore’s declaration that the Republic needs to acknowledge Unionist charges that it did not do enough to combat the IRA has been sharply criticised by Sinn Féin.
Speaking in Glasgow tonight, Sinn Féin Newry and Armagh MP, Mr Conor Murphy said a similar speech would never have “come out of” the Department of Foreign Affairs a decade ago.
Much of the speech made by Mr Gilmore to the British-Irish Association, made in Cambridge ten days ago, ‘had been contentious,’ Mr Murphy complained.
“Perhaps there isn’t the same dialogue between the Department of Foreign Affairs and political parties that there was at the height of the negotiations (in the 1990s).
“I doubt if a type of speech like that would have come out of the Department of Foreign Affairs ten years ago, because I think it was quite clearly unhelpful in large parts,” he said.
The Irish Government should, he said, be involved in a truth and reconciliation process, particularly over attacks in the Republic “which clearly had the hand of British intelligence”.
Meanwhile, he noted that the Smithwick Inquiry is “testing theories” that members of the Garda Síochana colluded in the IRA killings of senior RUC offiíers after they left a meeting in Dundalk.
“At some point, if we are looking at the past, we must have the involvement of the two governments,” Mr Ford, since “they are guarantors of the past and were players”.
Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, the Sinn Féin MP told the meeting, “is being extremely unhelpful in trying to set parameters for the Haass talks”.
Two years ago, her predecessor, Owen Paterson had been “very disparaging” about the prospect “of having foreigners coming in” to tell the British Government how to deal with the past.
“Now we have Richard Haass, but we have the British Government not participating,” he said, “If we are going to deal with the legacy of the past it has to involve both governments and all parties.”
The contributions were made by the two men when they appeared at a fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrats’ annual conference hosted by the peace and reconciliation group, CHAMP.
Members of the Orange Order and the Ulster Volunteer Force combined to cause Northern Ireland’s summer of street trouble, Mr Ford told the gathering.
“Elements of the Orange Order and their fellow-travellers in the Unionist paramilitaries,who were trying to stretch the police, didn’t succeed because of mutual aid (from British police forces),” he said.
Later, Mr Murphy commented that the trouble of the summer had been “almost all confined to Belfast and surrounding areas and it is orchestrated”.
“I am glad that people here have called it as it is, because you don’t hear that enough at home. You hear a lot of pussy-footing about and excuses,” he told the CHAMP event.
“This is the UVF, in association with elements of the Orange Order, and suffering a lack of any leadership and excuses being given to them by political Unionism,” he went on.
In South Armagh, the PSNI “now have a very good relationship” with the community and “I wouldn’t have thought that that was possible five years ago and that I would be saying that”.
“People are orchestrating for political reasons a sense of conflict and a sense of grievance and then they can’t control it when it kicks off,” he said.
“People can hide behind making excuses,” he went on, adding, that saying that people are “hard done by” will “always” offer comfort to those who were involved.
Meanwhile, Mr Terry Spence of the Northern Ireland’s Police Federation said 1,000 extra police officers must be recruite, warning that a fifth of all front-line officers have been injured.