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Dissidents out of touch with republican values

Following the security alerts in Derry and Newry last weekend, is it time we had a serious, all-island discussion on the meaning of 'republicanism'?

It is now 12 years since the Good Friday Agreement was reached and subsequently endorsed by the people of the island of Ireland. It is very worrying to see the dissident activity return as it has in recent months.

Hundreds of people were affected all weekend when the Enterprise Train from Belfast to Dublin was disrupted, many of which were en route to Dublin to see the Ireland v Scotland game. It is disquieting that PSNI officers were shot at in south Armagh on Saturday when they attempted to deal with a suspicious device.

Alas, attempts on their lives and the lives of civilians have been a real threat for many months now, as the Peadar Heffron and Newry attacks showed.

Who are these people representing? The people involved in dissident activity must know that they are not representative of the majority of people, north or south of the border.

What is republicanism? What is meant by this term in modern Ireland? Should we not be aspiring to building an all-island approach to our future, north and south of the border?

Should we not be working together to build on the relationships that have been fostered during the peace process, working towards a co-operative society in which everyone is treated with equality and respect, thereby maximising our economic as well as social potential?

Regardless of the political boundaries on this island, people from the nationalist and unionist traditions must get to know each other, accept their differences, and embrace what we have in common.

Republicanism should encapsulate this aspiration, something that reflects its actual meaning. These 'dissident republicans' should take note of the lack of public support for their activities.

The people of this Island want peace - not a return to the dark days of the Troubles.


Deputy government spokesperson on the North of Ireland, Seanad Eireann

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