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Irish government denies having talks with Real IRA

The Republic's Department of Foreign Affairs has insisted it was not involved in secret talks with dissident republicans opposed to the peace process.

It was responding to Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, who said both the Irish and British governments were involved in the talks in recent weeks.

"The reality is that some of these dissident groups, I know for a fact, have been involved in discussions with both the Irish and the British governments in recent times," he told BBC Radio Ulster.

According to a senior Sinn Fein source, the party believes both governments are in contact with elements of the Real IRA -- which was responsible for the Omagh bombing -- and the political group thought to be linked to it, the 32 County Sovereignty Committee.

Dissident republican groups have launched a string of bomb attacks in recent days, including a car bomb attack on a Derry police station last week, plus three further attempts to kill people linked to the security forces using under-car bombs.

But a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin insisted its officials were not involved in such negotiations and said: "We are not talking to dissident republicans."

The British government's Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Owen Paterson also said recently that talks with the armed groups opposed to the peace process were not an option.

"You cannot have any meaningful talks with people who are not committed to peaceful means. They are not listening," he said.

Belfast Telegraph