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SF border poll call is a stunt, says former leading Provo

By Jim Cusack

Published 27/06/2016

Poll sceptic: Kieran Conway
Poll sceptic: Kieran Conway

A former senior Provisional IRA figure has said Sinn Fein's call for a border referendum is a "stunt", with no prospect of Irish unity emerging from Brexit.

Kieran Conway, who was the IRA's director of intelligence in the 1970s and 1980s and served a three-year jail term, has repeated his sentiment that his former IRA associates and now Sinn Fein leaders would "say anything to get into power".

Conway, a solicitor who mainly represents clients before Dublin's Special Criminal Court, has previously referred to Gerry Adams as a "mendacious, lying bastard" and accused him of "selling out republican goals and implementing British rule".

He said yesterday: "Calling for a referendum is a bit of a stunt. It's not going to happen. I don't know the actual technicalities, but I think there must be a majority of people in the six counties voting for Irish unity.

"There is no prospect of Irish unity. They (Sinn Fein) are calling for a referendum and there is no chance of it being granted by (British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland) Theresa Villiers."

Mr Conway was questioned by gardai in January following the re-opening of the West Midlands Police investigation into the November 1974 IRA Birmingham pub bombings in which 21 people were killed and 200 injured.

Six Irishmen were wrongly convicted of the mass murder. Mr Conway said he told gardai of his "personal shame and regret over the bombings".

Following the IRA ceasefire in 1997 and the Good Friday Agreement the following year, Sinn Fein promised its supporters there would be a united Ireland by 2016.

The Sinn Fein call for an Irish unity referendum in the wake of the Brexit vote has also been dismissed jokingly by other former Provisional republicans as Plan B, following what is seen as the failure of its promise to its supporters to achieve reunification via its "constitutional" path.

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