Belfast Telegraph

You can't compare Islamic State terrorism with the IRA, insists Sinn Fein MEP

By Victoria Leonard

A Sinn Fein MEP has said she wouldn't describe the IRA's activities as "terrorism" but would use the word to refer to Islamic State, citing "different levels of terrorism".

In a controversial interview with Hot Press, Liadh Ni Riada, the daughter of renowned composer and musician Sean O'Riada, also said DUP leader Arlene Foster had taken an "insensitive and stupid approach" when she described Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill as "blonde".

Ms Ni Riada said she was "uncomfortable with the use of the word terrorism, because it's a blanket description of what atrocities there were".

"I don't think you can have a blanket word like 'terrorist' to describe every conflict situation in the world, because you're almost automatically then putting, say, the IRA, for instance, as the one who created this terror, created this conflict," she said.

"I think that's a very simplified view to have."

She said she disagreed with describing IRA atrocities such as Bloody Friday, Aldershot, Warrington or the Birmingham pub bombings as terrorist attacks, saying she didn't "think you can be as black and white as that about it".

While the mother-of-three said that she did not "condone such scales of violence", she stopped short of describing the UVF Miami Showband massacre and IRA Aldershot bombing as "terrorist attacks", instead calling them "attacks" or "terrible acts of violence".

"It was a terrible time of conflict," she said. "But there is no conflict without a reason."

However, Ms Riada, who worked as a producer and director at RTE and TG4 for more than 20 years, said she would describe Islamic State as terrorists "because that's what they do".

Acknowledging that Sinn Fein had condemned the Manchester Arena attack, in which 22 were killed by a suicide bomber, Ms Riada admitted she could be accused of hypocrisy.

"It's a conflict. It's an eternal struggle to try and find some way of resolving that, because we absolutely condemn what happened in Manchester. And there's no way you could justify that on any grounds. There are different levels of terrorism.

"Maybe that softens it slightly, or maybe allows you to identify what constitutes an act of terrorism, and the different degrees or the different levels of terrorism, you know? I could live with that."

Ms Riada also slammed Mrs Foster's description of the Sinn Fein northern leader as "blonde" in a May interview as "doing a disservice to women". "It wouldn't be accepted for a man to say it because you'd say it's utter sexism. It showed her insensitive and stupid approach by categorising Michelle O'Neill as a blonde."

The full interview is in the new Hot Press magazine.

by victoria leonard

Belfast Telegraph

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