Notorious unionist paramilitary killer Michael Stone has been charged with five counts of attempted murder over his attack on the Belfast Assembly at Stormont buildings on Friday.
Before being led from the dock today, he shouted out: “No sell-out. No power-sharing with the Shinners, they are war criminals. Ulster is not for sale, no surrender.”
In a solo assault on Friday, Stone barged into the Great Hall at Stormont armed with a pistol and between six and eight pipe-bombs, some of which were already sparking and smoking and were later described by police as “amateurish”.
Stone was able to throw the pipe bombs, which he was carrying in a rucksack, into the Great Hall. He then appeared to become stuck in a revolving door and was disarmed and detained by civilian security staff in full view of the waiting media.
Shouting “No surrender” and describing DUP leader Ian Paisley as a “traitor”, Stone had the gun snatched from him by the female guard while the male guard pinned him against the wall.
Amid the pandemonium, other security guards ordered reporters away from the front door as an alarm wailed.
A defiant Stone, repeatedly shouting, was eventually forced outside, where the civilian guards restrained him.
Eight police officers assigned to protect MPs were inside Stormont Buildings but did not help the civilian guards because they had a “specific role”, according to PSNI Chief Hugh Orde.
“While he may have got himself a little short-term publicity I think the vast majority of people will see this for what it was: a sad publicity act by a very sad individual.”
Stone remains in custody at Antrim police station.
While his intentions remain unclear, it was reported that he intended to attack Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.
Mr Adams said the attack was a serious attempt to kill and injure people.
Mr Adams said there were many questions to be asked about security, the forensic history of the gun and the nature of the devices that Stone had.
The West Belfast MP commended staff at Parliament Buildings for their bravery in tackling and disarming Stone and expressed solidarity and best wishes to one staff member who was lightly injured.
The episode was “a glimpse of the old agenda of those who want to drag the community back to the dark days”, he said.
HISTORY OF VIOLENCE
Stone was unknown before he launched a similar gun and grenade attack on the funeral of the three IRA Volunteers shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar, again in view of the media.
He killed three people and injured a number more. He was jailed for a total of 700 years with a recommendation that he serve a minimum of 30 years.
However he was released on licence in June 2000 under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. That licence has now been revoked by British Direct Ruler Peter Hain.
With a high level of public attention focused on Stormont, the security breach was highly embarrassing for the British government. Peter Hain has asked PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde to review security.
Before trying to get into Parliament Buildings, Stone had time to stop and spray graffiti - “Sinn Féin IRA war” - in large red letters on the facade.
His former colleagues in the unionist paramilitary UDA have disowned the attack.
A senior member of the UDA said : “Michael Stone is publicity-hungry and in that way I suppose he achieved what he set out to do in that he’s managed to get himself back into the headlines.”
Speaking to reporters from Scotland, former ex-Shankill UDA boss Johnny Adair also had the same opinion.
“Michael Stone is criminally insane he thrives on media attention,” Adair said.
However, relatives for Justice director Mark Thompson said that Stone intended to kill and that families bereaved by Stone will ask how he managed to gain entry to Stormont.
“How did he manage to gain access to the Main Hall on such a vital day? Clearly the intention was to cause huge devastation on the same scale as in Milltown.”