Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Dissidents must be given no quarter

The history of republicanism tells us that every time the movement attempts to distance itself from armed conflict, there is a schism in the ranks.

So it was little surprise that dissident groups emerged after the Provisional IRA ceasefire and Sinn Fein's endorsement of the peace process by taking seats in government and supporting policing. There were always going to be die-hards who were wedded to violence in their pursuit of an united Ireland. And those dissident groups were also going to attract some disillusioned young people too young to remember the true horrors of the Troubles and willing to be the cannon-fodder for the men of violence directing them.

But our exclusive story today reveals a worrying new development. Some veteran Provos, active during the Troubles, have now returned to violence, claiming the murder of Ronan Kerr, the young PSNI officer blown up by a booby-trap bomb under his car in Omagh, as well as helping dissident groups in previous high-profile murders and attempted killings.

The concern from a security viewpoint is that these are experienced terrorists who can carry out acts of violence on their own or lend their expertise to the dissident groups.

They have rejected the peace process - their political philosophy is that of the green-tinted fanatics, that the British can be forced out of Ireland through violence. They are unwilling to learn from the republican failures of history or to accept that the majority of former Provos and Sinn Fein have embraced democracy.

They are also unmoved by the huge cross-community groundswell of anger at the death of Constable Kerr.

There is now an onus on Sinn Fein and the former leadership of the Provisional IRA to tell the police what they know about these new dissidents to prevent further bloodshed.

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