Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 September 2014

Gerry Adams blasts 'adventurist' dissident groups

Dissident Republicans involved in violence in Northern Ireland are motivated by ego and opportunism, Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said last night.

Mr Adams used a public rally in rural County Tyrone to attack the groups who last month murdered two soldiers and a police officer.

He said dissident groups had also threatened to kill Sinn Fein politicians but insisted that such groups would not be allowed to derail the peace process.

"Some former activists, including former IRA volunteers, hark back to the 70s or 80s," he told a crowd of more than 200 people in Galbally.

"This is not the 70s or 80s.

"And some have formed armed groups which purport to be the IRA - the CIRA, the RIRA, or Oglaigh na h'Eireann, or the INLA, or the IRLA.

"None of these groups are the IRA.

"They have no right to hijack its name or to mimic its actions.

"They cannot match the IRA for ingenuity, for resourcefulness, for courage or capacity."

Mr Adams told the audience that the IRA had taken the armed struggle as far as possible but had sued for peace when that became an option.

The Sinn Fein panel included Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness who said he stood over his decision to brand dissident republican killers as traitors to Ireland.

But he also said that he was personally proud to have been a former member of the IRA and recognised that his comment had offended some members of the republican community.

The event did not attract protests from dissident republican groups and questions from the audience were dominated by bread and butter issues including education reform.

At the end of the event, the majority of the audience gave the Sinn Fein delegation, which included Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew and Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre De Brun, a standing ovation.

Mr Adams had told them that republicans should focus on policy and actions that would help deliver a united Ireland.

In a message to dissidents, he said: "Militarism, elitism or adventurism is no substitute to strategy, for tactics, for common sense."

He said some dissidents were wedded to the use of violence as a tactic while others were motivated by ego and opportunism, but he said all were wrong.

"Some take exception to remarks by republican leaders and seize on these in an entirely self-serving and negative way," he said.

"Others threaten to kill us, or they actually attack our homes or offices."

He added: "Let me make it clear that Sinn Fein is not going to roll over and surrender our struggle to any of these elements."

One member of the audience was applauded by a section of the crowd when he said Sinn Fein policies were being blocked by the DUP.

But Mr McGuinness said the DUP had been brought into power-sharing government despite their long-held opposition to it.

"But look at where the DUP are now," said Mr McGuinness. "Then you have to look two years up the road and then six years up the road."

A woman in the audience, who had a child facing transfer from primary school to second level education, said children were being made guinea pigs by Sinn Fein education reform.

But both Mr McGuinness and Sinn Fein MLA, Michelle O'Neill, who said she has a child who is a primary 6 pupil, said "necessary change" would eventually be to the benefit of all children.

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