Adams calls for talks
Adams calls for talks

Sinn Fein has offered to meet with “the militarist factions” to outline the party’s strategy for advancing republican objectives and in its belief in “the futility of armed actions”.

Party president Gerry Adams also called on all republican political parties, groups and individuals to join in the condemnations of the killing of a PSNI policeman by an anti-personnel device outside Omagh earlier this month.

It remains unclear who was responsible for the attack, which produced the first PSNI casualty in over two years. With just four weeks before key local and Assembly elections in the North, it provoked an exceptionally vehement response by Sinn Fein and the other mainstream political parties.

In press statements and speaking on RTE state radio this week, Mr Adams addressed the “tiny, unrepresentative factions” who he said continue to engage in armed actions.

“I and others in the Sinn Fein leadership have offered to meet with you to point out the futility of armed actions in the Ireland of 2011 and to discuss the political space that is open for you to move into,” he said. “I make that offer again today.”

Mr Adams also attacked those who provide support to the breakaway IRA groups. “These groups are not the IRA and nobody should be under any illusion about that,” he said.

Mr Adams also blasted his political opponents in Republican Sinn Fein, the 32 County Sovereignty Movement, the Republican Network for Unity and Eirigi, as well as independent republicans and local historical groups, who he said had “put their heads down”.

“I am appealing to them all to call for an end to these armed actions. They need to make it clear that these actions have to stop.”

The new Fine Gael Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, said he did not know whether anything could come of the later Adams talks offer,

“I’m not personally convinced that talking to these people will make any difference. I think they’re engaged in a futile campaign of violence,” he said.

Mr Shatter said he did not intend to be critical of Mr Adams. “I presume he’s genuine in the offer he is making, but we should never forget that the offer is made in the context of the backdrop of the Northern Ireland elections.”

Mr Shatter said his only interest was “to support the gardai and the PSNI in a relentless targeting of these groups”.

Sinn Fein First Minister Martin McGuinness said his republican rivals did not have the self-confidence to debate their position with his party.

“We have been writing to these people, we have sent messages to these people. They’re not under any illusions whatsoever about our willingness to speak to them. There has been no deficiency on our side in terms of trying to make contact,” he said.

He warned that armed actions “will continue over the next couple of weeks, and be designed to try to disrupt the democratic process”, he said.

Des Dalton, president of Republican Sinn Fein would not talk to the “surrogates” of the British government.

“From that point of view we have nothing to say to the Provisionals,” he said. “We’ve made our position very, very clear: as long as there is British rule in Ireland there will be people who are willing to oppose it.”

Eirigi general secretary Breandan MacCionnaith said Sinn Fein was trying to demonise his party.

“Eirigi’s position on the recent killing in Omagh and on other armed actions is clear and unambiguous,” he said. “The party is not aligned to or supportive of any armed groups or their actions. This has been our position since our foundation five years ago.”

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© 2011 Irish Republican News