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Ex-IRA prisoner claims Sinn Fein 'pretending the Provos achieved victory'

A former IRA member who spent 15 years in prison has claimed that Sinn Fein and the British and Irish Governments have effectively sidelined victims of the Troubles.

Shane Paul O'Doherty was once an IRA explosives expert, but he publicly renounced violence, his connection to the IRA, and wrote letters of apology to his victims while in prison in England.

As a lone operator he once targeted 10 Downing Street, the London Stock Exchange, the Bank of England and attempted to kill the chief Catholic chaplain to the British Army, Bishop Gerard Tickle, in an infamous letter bombing campaign.

Yesterday O'Doherty, now a trenchant critic of Sinn Fein, also said: "Victims have been sidelined and I am increasingly shocked by the actions of the body politic here and in Britain that have effectively put victims to the side.

"Relatives of victims are crowdfunding to get the money together to find out what happened to their loved ones." A key element of the negotiations to restore the Executive to Northern Ireland had been how to deal with the legacy of the conflict.

It is understood that Sinn Fein had asked for the release of a mooted £150m to tackle legacy issues.

However, O'Doherty said that a major flaw of republican strategy is that they are still 'peddling' the idea that the IRA won a military victory and that the peace process has been a reward for that idea.

He said: "Neither does that account for the human and civil rights violations carried out in Britain and Ireland - what about mass murder, the people that were disappeared.

"They are strutting around Northern Ireland brazenly in that pretence and it's deeply offensive to anyone with any sense of morality." O'Doherty wrote a book on his experiences in the IRA and after a long period working with homeless people in Dublin is now working as a writer.

He also spent a period training as a priest but now says the Catholic Church has become too cosy with the primary nationalist party in Northern Ireland.

"They equally have sold victims out. They have an overwhelming duty to the truth and to seek reparation for victims," O'Doherty said.

"There was a perfect opportunity to reflect this at Martin McGuinness's funeral, but they failed to mention any of it.

"Martin was a friend of mine, but instead the church heaped state honours upon a paramilitary leader.

"Right up until his death he withheld the truth about many atrocities. Take the Claudy bombing for example.

"I have been contacted by many members of the Claudy families looking for truth and closure and I very foolishly suggested they contact Martin as he might be a conduit to the truth.

"Those people went unanswered.

"Martin McGuinness sold his soul to Sinn Fein and the IRA and went to his creator without giving reparation to victims.

"The Sinn Fein party to me is a bundle of lies. I never understood McGuinness trying to make Stormont work.

"It totally conflicted with the previous project of destroying Northern Ireland for 30 years, so why try and make it work.

"I don't see how it reconciles with achieving a united Ireland by upholding something they tried to destroy."

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