Paisley's 'shoot-to-kill' remark criticised

 

SINN FÉIN and the SDLP members of the Policing Board have angrily denounced Ian Paisley Junior for suggesting a shoot-to-kill policy be used against dissident republicans.

Mr Paisley suggested the majority of people would back the use of lethal force against dissident groups who were behind last weekend's attempted murder of police officers in Fermanagh and the bombing of Omagh.

"Sooner or later there will be a murder of a police officer unless the police are able to deploy ruthlessness in tracking down and wiping out these dissident members," he said.

The Assembly member, reappointed to the Policing Board which oversees the PSNI last spring added: "I believe the community will accept such measures and if dissidents are shot on sight, the community will accept that it is a necessary use of lethal force to prevent dissident republicanism from growing.

"I believe the Executive ought to ensure that a full discussion on the security situation must take place with a view to ensuring every encouragement is given to the police and army in the eradication of dissident republicans.

"There are some crumbs of comfort that the weapons deployment has been botched, or else, more likely, dissidents have been infiltrated and at the last moment the explosives undermined and therefore lives saved. However, we cannot always rely upon infiltration and treachery within the ranks of the dissidents to undermine their activity."

His remarks were quickly condemned by nationalist members of the board.

Sinn Féin said Mr Paisley Junior "hasn't learnt anything from the history of the last 40 years".

The SDLP's Dolores Kelly said Mr Paisley was talking "dangerous nonsense" which would only work to the benefit of the dissident republicans still fighting an armed campaign.

Daithi McKay, Sinn Féin Assembly member for North Antrim, said: "This is the type of corner-boy approach to politics we have come to expect from Paisley. What unionist leaders, and in particular the DUP, need to demonstrate is they're prepared to share power with nationalists and republicans on the basis of equality rather than appealing to lowest common denominator."

Mrs Kelly said, "Some people shoot from the hip, others from the mouth. It seems there are two groups of people who want to drive us back into the past, the ex-provo dissidents and people like Ian Paisley Junior who are still fighting their rearguard action against accountable policing in a shared society.

"It is precisely because we drew a line under that sort of so-called policing that we were able to win such wide cross-community support for a new beginning in policing. It is precisely for the same reason that the dissidents are trying so hard to target the police, to split them off from the community, to drive them back into armoured vehicles, heavy armaments and fortified barracks.

"It is difficult to think of anything which would serve the dissident cause better than a shoot-to-kill policy," she added.