The 32 County Sovereignty Movement in Derry has denied that dissident republicans were behind a petrol bomb attack on the home of Sinn Féin leadership figure Mitchel McLaughlin at the weekend.
The group issued the statement after Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness challenged Gary Donnelly, a spokesperson for the 32 CSM, to condemn the attack.
“The 32 County Sovereignty Movement categorically deny that the litany of attacks on homes of Provisional Sinn Féin members and their property, culminating in Sunday night’s attack on the home of Mitchel McLaughlin in Derry, are the work of anti-Agreement republicans. We also condemn, without reservation, attacks on monuments to our republican dead and other acts of wanton vandalism on republican monuments and state that those involved are guilty of crimes against the republican community,” the statement said.
Mr McGuinness said the statement was “squeezed out” after several hundred people gathered in a show of solidarity outside Mitchel McLaughlin’s home on Monday evening.
The 32CSM also said attacks on the homes of Sinn Féin members were “wrong and counter productive” and suggested the attacks were part of a “dirty tricks” campaign by the British.
“These attacks do nothing to further the cause of republican separatism and serve only to polarise and divide republicans and republican communities,” the group said.
The hardline group also called for talks between Sinn Féin and other republicans.
“These attacks are taking place at a time when our members and supporters are winning the argument for republicanism against reformism, these attacks on PSF only deflect attention on their failure to protect the republican position and we welcome open, democratic debate on this issue rather than recrimination and tit-for-tat attacks that conveniently prevent debate from taking place,” the statement said.
Mr McGuinness said he challenged Donnelly because of his involvement in an Easter commemoration event in the city where a ‘Real IRA’ statement was read out. Sinn Féin have said the statement, which warned of attacks against informers, contained a threat to members of the party.
“Whether the individuals who carried out the attack on the McLaughlin home acted unilaterally or in concert with any particular group, the 32CSM, who organised the event in the City Cemetery on Easter Monday at which clear threats were directed at the Sinn Féin leadership, can not absolve themselves from the actions of those that are encouraged by these comments.
Mr McGuinness suggested dissident republicans were now more focused against his party than the British government. “Those who are opposed to Sinn Féin had the opportunity to oppose us in the European elections but chose not to do so because they know that the vast majority of the Irish people agree with the Sinn Féin strategy.”
Meanwhile, the family of Colin Duffy brought their campaign for his release to Derry at the weekend. Mr Duffy, a prominent republican and a critic of the peace process, is being held without bail on charges of involvement in the Real IRA attack on Massareene British Army base in March. His supporters have warned of an attempt by the PSNI to frame him for the attack, in which two British soldiers died. Mr Duffy has previously been the victim of a miscarriage of justice and false arrest.
Colin Duffy’s 17 year-old daughter, Caitriona, staged an overnight sit-out at Free Derry Corner from Friday to Saturday. She also staged a 48 hour hunger-strike as part of her protest.
Paul Duffy, brother of the Lurgan republican, said Caitriona Duffy also protested in Derry when her father was imprisoned in 1993.
“Caitriona was four years-old when her father was arrested in 1993 and she campaigned for his release then. We have a picture of her standing at Free Derry Corner then with a placard and now she is back again. She said she knows what it is like for her father to go to jail and said she doesn’t want her younger brothers and sisters to go through what she went through,” he said.
Mr Duffy also said he felt it was important to bring the campaign to Derry.
“We think it is appropriate to be here at Free Derry Corner, which is synonymous with the campaign for justice and human rights both here in Ireland and across the world,” he said.