Sinn Féin offer of peace talks spurned by republican dissidents (The Guardian)

Political wings of Continuity IRA and new IRA reject calls for dialogue leading to cessation of their armed campaigns

Republican dissidents have rejected Sinn Féin overtures over Easter for talks leading to a cessation of their armed campaigns.

As the disparate factions of Irish republicanism continue to commemorate the 97th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, two of the main movements still committed to violence have rejected offers to open up dialogue with Sinn Féin’s national chairman, Declan Kearney.

The political wings of both the Continuity IRA and the larger new IRA spurned the calls from Sinn Féin for an end to their armed campaigns and a common, peaceful strategy towards Irish unity.

Republican Sinn Fein, which is aligned to the Continuity IRA, told the Guardian at the weekend they had nothing to discuss with the mainstream republican party.

Des Dalton, RSF’s president, said: “Our position is that they are now an integral part of the machinery of British rule in Ireland and that consequently as Irish republicans we have nothing to say to them. Simple as that.”

Sources close to the new IRA, the largest anti-ceasefire republican paramilitary organisation, also dismissed Kearney’s offer of talks. It is understood the Sinn Féin chairman recently wrote to Francie Mackey, the chairman of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement – the group seen as the political arm of the new IRA.

“Suddenly they [Sinn Féin] want to talk to people they have denounced for years as criminals. No one has any interest in opening up a dialogue with them,” one source close to the new IRA said at the weekend.

The terror group has also rejected reports that dissident republicans were prepared to target Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness. Last week, Sinn Féin’s key negotiator in the peace process revealed that his family home in Derry had been splattered with black paint in an attack by local republican dissidents.

The incident was taken so seriously it was raised with McGuinness by President Barack Obama at a private meeting in the White House during the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Washington.

But sources close to the new IRA ruled out any physical attack on the deputy first minister, repeating an earlier position that they had “nothing to gain” from such activity.

The double rebuff on talks means that in the short to medium term there is little likelihood that attacks on the security forces in Northern Ireland, most of which have been thwarted due to the penetration of the terror groups with informers, will come to halt.

In a pre-Easter interview, Kearney held out the prospect of unconditional talks between Sinn Féin and the republican dissidents.

He said: “The twin tasks facing all those who are committed to Irish republicanism are today, to address ourselves to reconciliation, and to then work out collectively how we can create the best circumstance for bringing about the unity of our people and moving incrementally through persuasion towards the achievement of a new Ireland, an agreed, united Ireland.”

“Not all republicans support Sinn Féin or endorse [our] republican strategy, some are disillusioned at the slow pace of progress, others have stepped back from political activism so we want to engage with those republicans, we want to listen to their genuine concerns.”

However, attempts to kill or maim members of the security forces have continued over the Easter holiday. On Easter Saturday, the Continuity IRA tried to lure police into the Craigavon area after exploding a device in a bin following a republican demonstration in the area. Police patrols initially avoided the area fearing an ambush but in a follow-up operation on Saturday night they arrested a 46-year-old in connection with the explosion.

Meanwhile, eight men remained in custody in the Irish Republic after a Garda operation against republican dissidents in Dublin. The eight men arrested on Good Friday – who are aged from mid-20s to 50s – are being held at a number of police stations in Dublin.


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