Dissidents 'bent' on violence, says Shatter

 

MINISTER FOR Justice Alan Shatter expressed scepticism about the merits of any talks with dissident republican factions, saying they were “bent” on violence.

Asked last evening about an offer from Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams to meet the dissidents at any time, Mr Shatter said he did not know whether anything could come of such talks.

“I’m not personally convinced that talking to these people will make any difference. I think they’re engaged in a futile campaign of violence,” he told reporters in Luxembourg on the fringes of an EU meeting.

“I think they’ve no interest in listening to anyone or talking to anyone, and I think they’re bent on a campaign of death and destruction. But it’s, of course, for Gerry Adams to make judgments as to what he would do. I’m not going to say anything about it beyond that,” he said.

Mr Shatter said he was not going to be critical in any way of Mr Adams. “I presume he’s genuine in the offer he is making, but we should never forget that the offer is made in the context of the backdrop of the Northern Ireland elections.”

Mr Shatter was “not personally optimistic” the dissidents were interested in engaging with anybody. “My interest is to support the gardaí and the PSNI in a relentless targeting of these groups, and to bring those to justice who have been involved in atrocities and to bring an end to the murderous campaign that these criminal terrorists are intent on engaging in.”

On RTÉ Radio yesterday, Mr Adams called on dissident republican groups to condemn the murder of PSNI constable Ronan Kerr. He asked political groups including the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, Éirígí, Republican Sinn Féin and the Republican Network for Unity “to call stop” to the violence.

He repeated the offer first made at the weekend on his blog Léargas to meet “anywhere, at any time” with the dissidents.

“This has to stop,” he said. There was an “entirely legitimate process” of political engagement which “everyone is entitled to be part of”.

Éirígí general secretary Breandán MacCionnaith said Mr Adams was trying to demonise his party. “Éirígí’s position on the recent killing in Omagh and on other armed actions is clear and unambiguous,” he said. “The party is not aligned to or supportive of any armed groups or their actions. This has been our position since our foundation five years ago.”

Thousands of people gathered in Omagh, Co Tyrone, on Sunday for a peace march a week after Mr Kerr’s murder.

Dissident republicans opposed to the peace process were blamed for the attack. They are also believed to be behind a 500lb van bomb which police discovered near Newry on Thursday.

Three people remained in custody in connection with the police investigation into the fatal attack.

A 33-year-old man was arrested in Omagh on Friday and police were given five more days to question a 26-year-old man arrested in Scotland on Wednesday and rearrested on Thursday. In addition, a 40-year-old man was arrested near Omagh on Thursday.

Éirígí said it will hold a protest at the General Post Office in Dublin this Saturday, April 16th, against the visit to Ireland next month of Queen Elizabeth.