Dissidents behind attacks are traitors, says McGuinness

 

Sinn Féin’s Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has described the dissident republicans behind the two recent attacks in the North as traitors to the island of Ireland.

At a joint press briefing with First Minister Peter Robinson and Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde today, Mr McGuinness said the perpetrators of these murders had “betrayed the desires and political aspirations of all the people who live on this island and they don’t deserve to be supported by anyone”.

He appealed to the nationalist community to assist the police services north and south to defeat these people. “There is a duty on me to lead from the front,” he said.

Sir Hugh briefed Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness today on the investigation into the killing of Constable Stephen Paul Carroll (48) by the Continuity IRA last night and also on the Real IRA attack in Antrim on Saturday which left two young British soldiers dead.

Mr Robinson said the victims of these attacks were “gunned down and slain by evil men”.

“The stronger we stand together as a community the more surly we will come through this together,” he said.

Earlier today Mr Robinson expressed his sympathy Constable Carroll's family, and said he was “sickened at the attempts by terrorists to destabilise Northern Ireland. Those responsible for this murderous act will not be allowed to drag our province back to the past”.

He urged British prime minister Gordon Brown, who visited Northern Ireland yesterday, and Sir Hugh “to take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that innocent life is protected in the face of this terrorist threat across Northern Ireland”.

Mr Brown condemned the “murderers” who shot dead the policeman but insisted: “There will be no return to the old days.”

Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward also offered his condolences to the officer’s family.

He said the people of Antrim who suffered the loss of two soldiers had shown the way forward with their resilience.

“Those few who committed these cowardly crimes have shown they have the capacity for evil acts but they don’t have the capacity to undermine the peace process and the firm political progress.”

Local Sinn Féin Assembly member John O’Dowd, was challenged on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme over whether his party regarded last night’s killing as “murder”.

Mr O’Dowd responded: “It is murder, and not because you want me to say it, but because it is. We have called on the people to come forward and give information to the police service, and not because you want us to say it, but because it is the right thing to do.

“This society has moved on. We want to move on along with society.

“I think that in the darkness of what we have seen in the last 48 hours, the light that has been shone from the united stand that has been made by the leaders of Irish Republicanism and the leaders of Unionism is a beacon of hope for us all.”

Mr O’Dowd said that the dissident republican groups had “no support” in the community. When parties representing their position stood in the 2007 Assembly elections in the Upper Bann, they were “annihilated”, receiving 300 votes against Sinn Fein’s 11,000 and the SDLP’s 4,000, he said.

Terry Spence, chairman of the Police Federation, said the terrorists were attempting to drag the people of Northern Ireland back into the morass of a bloody past.

He added: “We are seeking an urgent re-appraisal of all aspects of the security situation and of the safety of members of the police and security services.”

Sir Hugh has already ruled out bringing troops back onto the streets, a decision

backed again today by the Secretary of State Shaun Woodward.

Sir Hugh has drafted in undercover British soldiers to carry out surveillance operations, but this murder will inevitably heighten Unionist demands for tougher action.

Jim Allister, a Northern Ireland member of the European Parliament, claimed: “Our present reduced and denuded police cannot cope alone with active republican terrorism. Thus, now is the time to bring in the SAS before it gets out of hand.”

Conservative MP Patrick Mercer, who completed nine tours of duty in Northern Ireland as a soldier and now chairs the parliamentary counter-terrorism sub-committee, told said: “Anybody who thinks armed terrorism has gone away in Northern Ireland is frankly a fool and is living in some sort of dreamland.

“But there is a balance to be struck. Large numbers of troops, large numbers of police and other supporting elements such as we saw through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s not only is wrong, but is deeply undesirable.

PA