Republican Sinn Fein has condemned the announcement of draconian new laws in the 26 Counties which appear designed to prevent any increase in support for militant republicanism ahead of the anniversary of the 1916 Rising.
The 26-County Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said proposed amendments to existing special legislation would create three new offences, including the “public provocation to commit a terrorist offence”, “recruitment for terrorism”, and “training for terrorism”.
Publishing the bill, the minister said that the offences would carry sentences of up to 10 years behind bars.
Republican Sinn Fein leader Des Dalton said the new legislation is a direct attack on the right to hold or communicate political opinions and ideas, as set out in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
He said that with the centenary of the 1916 Rising fast approaching, it was obvious that the 26-County administration was “attempting to silence Irish Republicanism and to drive it underground”.
“Such coercive methods have failed in the past as this present effort will also fail,” he said.
He warned that measures could easily be extended to cover all forms of political dissent. “People need to be awake to this fact and speak out now.”
He said Padraig Pearse had warned Ireland’s rulers, in the months before the Easter Rising, not to believe they had “purchased half of us and intimidated the other half”.
“It is evident that the political establishment have not absorbed the lessons of history. They think that they can imprison an idea, that by locking up Republicans they can suppress the desire for a free and independent Ireland.
“Irish Republicanism has withstood centuries of repression at the hands of both the 26-County and British states. It has endured and will continue to do so because it lives in the hearts and minds of the Irish people.”
McKEVITT REFUSED RELEASE
Meanwhile, senior republican Michael McKevitt has been denied release from prison following a series of rulings by Dublin courts.
A brother-in-law of hunger striker Bobby Sands, Mr McKevitt was jailed in 2003 for ‘directing terrorism’, the only person in the state to have faced the charge.
Lawyers for McKevitt argued that, based on precedent, he was entitled to a third remission on his 20-year sentence, which should have seen his release earlier this week by the High Court.
However, the High Court’s Judge Barton postponed his decision on the case pending a Supreme Court ruling, and on Friday, the Supreme Court agreed to overturn the precedent.