Belfast Telegraph

You are stupid and selfish, Martin McGuinness tells the dissidents

By Lesley-Anne Henry

Martin McGuinness has rejected claims from renegade republicans that they are the true IRA.

The Deputy First Minister’s comments were made during a ceremony commemorating the 95th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Co Londonderry yesterday.

Mr McGuinness also told the crowds at The Loup, that dissident republicans are living in a fool’s paradise if they think they can reunite Ireland by violence branding their action futile, stupid and selfish.

Claiming the IRA that existed during the Troubles were not war mongerers, Mr McGuinness said: “They were a revolutionary force who when an opportunity to advance the struggle for Irish unity through peaceful means was established, removed itself from the political equation.

“The IRA by its nature was of the people and for the people.

“It could not have survived and fought the British state the way it did if it was small and unrepresentative.

“People should be under no illusion, the small factions currently engaging in armed actions are not the IRA and they are not advancing national and democratic objectives by their activities.”

Last week a group of disaffected Provisional IRA members told this newspaper they had been responsible for the murder of PSNI constable Ronan Kerr (25), in Omagh three weeks ago. They outlined opposition to the peace process and vowed to continue to wage a campaign of violence.

“Irish people are united in support of the Good Friday, St Andrews and Hillsborough Agreements, attempting to overturn the will of the people is not only futile it is stupid and selfish,” added Mr McGuinness.

“Ireland can now only be reunited by further development and outworking of the power-sharing and all-Ireland institutions which were endorsed by the Irish people in the referendum in 1998. No act of |violence will advance the |cause of reunification by one millimetre.

“Those who believe that Ireland can be reunited without the support of the Irish people are living in a fool's paradise.”

Delivering an address at the graveside of Sean Larkin, a republican executed during the Irish Civil War, Mr McGuinness said unionists had to feel welcome in a united Ireland and acknowledged that many were terrified at the prospect.

Republicans across Ireland held a series of commemorations to mark the anniversary of the Easter Rising.

In Belfast hundreds of people lined the Falls Road as Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams led a parade to the republican plot in Milltown Cemetery.

There were also speeches and wreath-laying ceremonies in Armagh, Tyrone, Londonderry and Donegal.

SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie was among the 3,000 at a Rising ceremony in Dublin.

“Anniversaries must not be allowed to be hijacked by certain groups who may intend to exploit them for narrow sectarian or political purposes,” she said.

“There is a great opportunity to develop the shared narratives and unite the people of this island instead of focusing on division.”

President Mary McAleese and the Taoiseach Enda Kenny also attended the event, which was held in O’Connell Street’s GPO, which played a key part in the Rising.

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph