Loyalist killer Michael Stone has written to British Direct Ruler Peter Hain stating that his recent attack at the Belfast Assembly was an exercise in performance art influenced by Pablo Picasso and Eamonn McCann.
Stone, in the “open letter” from Maghaberry prison to Mr Hain, PSNI chief Hugh Orde, and speaker of the Transitional Assembly Eileen Bell, apologised for anyone who may have been “adversely affected by my work in performance art”.
“My family, friends, all victims’ relatives of the Troubles, politicians and former comrades, my profound apologies to you all,” said Stone.
He was referring to how, on Friday, November 24th, he launched what appeared to be a gun and bomb attack as the Assembly was holding a meeting of critical importance at Parliament Buildings, Stormont. Carrying a bag containing crude home-made explosive devices and an imitation handgun, Stone was disarmed before shocked members of the media just inside the main lobby.
Stone, who murdered three men at Milltown cemetery in 1988, describes himself as an “artist and author” in his letter. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison but released under licence under the Good Friday Agreement’s early release scheme for paramilitary prisoners.
That licence has been revoked and he is now due to serve another 18 years in prison.
Stone, however, described his attack as an exhibition of his performance art, entitled ‘Never Say Never’. It was designed to illustrate “the futility of the politically motivated violence created in a political vacuum”.
“The unfinished work, while extreme, had the desired effect in that it highlighted the need for political stability in Ulster and the obvious threat that without devolution and a sustained period of powersharing between democrats, the spectre of our troubled past may return to haunt us.”
He said the inspiration for his work came from a variety of influences including Picasso’s Guernica and a recent anti-war protest in Derry by socialist and journalist Eamonn McCann.
However, a letter previously attributed to Stone and sent to the Belfast Telegraph on the day of the attack indicated a clear determination to kill Sinn Féin leaders at the Assembly.
Stone, who suffers from severe arthritis, was on crutches when he appeared on screen from Maghaberry Prison for a remand hearing on Friday.
He is being held in continuing custody on charges of attempting to murder Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and two security guards on November 24th.