Belfast Telegraph

Dee Fennell unhappy with 'dissident label' and asks BBC presenter 'what's your stance on violence'

Fennel hits out at former school hosting careers evening including police and Royal Navy

Prominent republican Dee Fennell clashed with a BBC presenter William Crawley after he was labelled a "dissident republican" before turning the tables on the broadcaster asking him what his stance was on violence.

The Belfast man was on Wednesday's Talkback programme to discuss his former school hosting a careers event including stands for the PSNI and the Royal Navy. He and his group, the dissident republican organisation Saoradh, backed a petition opposing the "presence of British armed forces in our schools".

Presenter Mr Crawley persistently asked if he would oppose physical attacks on the police and support only peaceful political means.

Mr Fennell said he could not, claiming the law prevented him from doing.

"It's common knowledge republicans have historically opposed the police service regardless of their name, the RIC, RUC or the PSNI incorporating the RUC."

When challenged that he didn't speak for republicans and his views were more aligned to dissident views, Mr Fennell said: "If you want to break that down and we'll just hammer straight through the BBC narrative that republicans that stay true to traditional republican principles... what am I dissenting from?"

"If you are going to put labels on me as a dissident republican, what do you define as a dissident republican?"

Mr Crawley said the BBC's narrative was to "state a fact" and again asked him if he would stand against anyone committing violence against a police officer.

"The Terrorism Act precludes me from giving any sort of rational explanation," he said.

"The Terrorism Act and the draconian legislation that has been implemented in relation to it, prevents republicans from giving an honest critique or observation or analysis of the reasons armed struggle exists in Ireland. That's not fudging the question, that's a fact."

When asked if the PSNI was more representative and included more Catholics in its ranks would he be more supportive of the organisation, Mr Fennell  said the point didn't apply as he wasn't a Catholic.

Asked if his war was over, he responded: "I have no war I am here as a representative of a legitimate political organisation. I'm not here to talk on behalf of any armed group. They can talk for themselves."

Mr Fennell also said he would be opposed to the Irish Defence Forces being at a careers event given their involvement in "all sorts of nefarious activities in the middle east" as well as An Garda Siochana because, he claimed, "they are interning Irish republicans".

After repeatedly being asked if he would say he would only support solely political means and speak out against violence against the security forces, Mr Fennell turned the tables on Mr Crawley and asked if he supported violence adding, "when any BBC presenter wears a poppy they are obviously endorsing the British war machine in Ireland".

"I'm not a politician," responded Mr Crawley, "I'm a journalist, I ask questions.

"This is gas-lighting when you are asked a question you don't want to answer you're throwing mud all over the place because you want to distract from the fact you don't want to answer a simple question. A simple question about your commitment to a peaceful political process here."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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