Multiple killer Michael Stone has told a trial judge that his infamous armed assault on the Stormont Assembly was a “comic parody” and a “performance artistic protest”.
Stone denies attempting to murder Sinn Féin’s Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness at Stormont in 2006. Armed with nail and pipe bombs, an imitation gun, knives, an axe and a garotte, the crazed but enfeebled paramilitary attempted to force his way into the debating chamber. Stone was stopped by security staff, but not before flinging a device into Stormont’s Great Hall, forcing the evacuation of the Assembly.
Giving evidence at Belfast Crown Court on his own behalf, Stone claimed he wanted his ‘protest’ to “put a proverbial rocket up the backsides” of the politicians.
“I’m destroying the iconography of Michael Stone loyalist hero,” he said.
“It’s a comic parody of my former self. I would rather be remembered as an eccentric artist that got it wrong in performance art than my past when I did some terrible things.”
Stone was responsible for a gun and bomb attack at a republican funeral in Milltown Cemetery in 1988, in which three men died.
He claimed he constructed the devices for the assault so that the fuses were not able to light, and put nails of various sizes into them, not as sharpnel, but as symbolism for “nailing the truth”.
Stone claimed letters he sent out to two journalists, in which he vowed to kill the Sinn Féin leaders, were merely a “script” of what was to happen in his performance artwork.
And he provoked further surprise and controversy when he said Mr McGuinness “would be the last man I would target because he was a security force asset”.
He told the court he was suffering from a disability that would confine him to a wheelchair in “five or six years”.
He said that since his release in 2000 as part of the Good Friday Agreement he had left his murderous past behind and “fully supported” the peace process and devolution.
Stone said he could have made the pipe bombs more dangerous and could also have gotten hold of a real gun instead of an imitation weapon.
He claimed that all the items he was carrying, and even his clothing, had their own symbolism.
Stone also claimed he had a letter explaining he was using his “capacity as an artist” and his art as a “vehicle to protest against devolution” addressed to “Mr Hugh Orde” on his person, when he stormed Parliament Buildings. However, it has never been found.
Before travelling to Stormont, knowing the world’s media would be present, he also revealed he used “Just For Men” to dye his hair and goatee beard so he would not look “over-weight and grey-haired”.
The trial continues.