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Ó Caoláin unreservedly condemns killings by dissident groups

11 March, 2009 - by Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

11 March, 2009

Speaking in the Dáil today, on the all party motion on the killings in the North, Sinn Féin Dáil Leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD unreservedly condemned the killings and said Sinn Féin will not be deflected from its peace strategy which it has democratically adopted and successfully pursued. He accused dissident groups of pursuing a militarist agenda, primarily designed to justify their own existence and perpetuate their own factions.

Full text of Deputy Ó Caoláin's speech follows:

"I unreservedly condemn the three killings by the so-called 'Real IRA' and the so-called 'Continuity IRA' and I extend sympathy to the families of those killed. I reiterate the determination of Sinn Féin to ensure that those responsible will not succeed in undermining the Peace Process nor will they divert us from the peaceful and democratic pursuit of our republican objectives.

"These killings have no legitimacy and no moral or political basis.

"Tá Sinn Féin ag tacú leis an rún seo. Sinn Féin is fully supporting this motion. Níl bealach ar bith eile os comhair phobail na hÉireann ach bealach na síochána.

"Níl cead ag mion-ghrúpaí dul i gcoinne an straitéas síochána a bhfuil tacaíocht aige ó phoblachtánaigh ar fud na hÉireann agus thar lear. Le fírinne a rá is grúpaí frith-poblachtánacha iad agus tá siad ag dul i gcoinne an phróiséis síochana a bhfuil tacaíocht aige ó mhuintir na hÉireann.

"The tiny splinter groups that carried out these murders are pursuing a militarist agenda, primarily designed to justify their own existence and perpetuate their own factions.

"They are totally divorced from republicans throughout Ireland and abroad. They have nothing to offer but misery in their attempts to drag back into conflict the communities they falsely claim to represent.

"We have seen a process of demilitarisation in the Six Counties as a key part of the Peace Process. The British Army was taken off the streets. Numbers in the Six Counties were very significantly reduced. Barracks and posts, including those along the border, have been closed. What will these attacks achieve, apart from the grief to families and renewed fears in communities?

"They will serve only to delay the ongoing process of demilitarisation. They may lead to the deployment of more rather than fewer British troops. Remilitarisation is what these groups want. They should not get what they want. These groups will not succeed in their attempts to derail the Peace Process which has the full support of the overwhelming majority of the Irish people and of all political parties.

"I commend the First and Deputy First Minister and the Executive in the Six Counties for the leadership they are giving. The best response to the events of recent days is to carry forward with even greater determination the politics of partnership and peace.

"The actions of these factional groups have no popular support. Rather than hastening the day of Irish unity and national independence, they try to undermine the only strategy currently on offer that has the potential to deliver our republican objectives. But in that effort to undermine the republican peace strategy they will fail.

"We in Sinn Féin remain resolute in our commitment to achieve our stated goals by peaceful and democratic campaigning. This approach has the support, and indeed the growing support, of the Irish electorate North and South.

"Those who want to turn back the clock would do better to turn over a new leaf and, if they are sincere in their stated wish to end the British presence in Ireland, invest their energies and talents in positively working for that objective.

"The objectives of Irish unity and freedom can only be achieved by the united and concerted effort of all republicans seeking to persuade people of all opinion, including those who have been traditionally hostile to our goals, of the good sense and the tremendous opportunities that can and will flow from the re-unification of Ireland and the establishment of a truly pluralist, inclusive and democratic Republic across the whole island of Ireland.

"Irish republicans will not be diverted from the peace strategy we have adopted democratically and pursued successfully.

"There may be some who, while not supporting the groups who carried out the killings, may baulk at the condemnation of the killings, in particular the killings of members of the British Army. But those killings were wrong because they were in breach of a Peace Process entered into in good faith by Irish republicans, a process out of which came all-party negotiations and all-party agreements which, while falling short of our ultimate objectives, are respected and upheld and adhered to by Irish republicans and endorsed by the vast majority of the Irish people.

"The Irish Republican Army leadership and Volunteers have long since declared that the war is over. The unrepresentative factions who do not deserve the name 'republican' are engaged in a futile effort to reignite conflict and resume war but they will fail.

"They are, in one case, the so-called 'Continuity IRA', the remnants of a group that departed from mainstream republicanism as far back as 1986. In the case of the so-called 'Real IRA' they had their genesis in those who departed early in the Peace Process.

"What their history has been since then, I do not know. But this I do know. They can only continue to exist by exploiting the gullibility of young people who have no conception of what real repression and real conflict was like. They seek to blind those young people to political realities, including the progress made by their own communities in recent years and the tremendous potential for future progress, including their own potential if they engage positively in peaceful and democratic political activity.

"Splinter groups are trying to turn back the clock to conflict. Once again, I emphasise, they will not be allowed to succeed.

"During the development of the Peace Process securocrats within the British system attempted to thwart progress because their existence depended on the continuation of conflict.

"I have no doubt that there are still people within the British system who would like to turn back the clock, to justify their own existence and to perpetuate their militarist organisations. This must not be allowed to happen either.

"It is vitally important that all responses to these killings are strictly within the law, are compliant with human rights obligations and are carried out by the PSNI. The need for effective, efficient, non-political and community-based policing is even greater now.

"The British Army, MI5 or any other covert force should have no role in this response and, in fact, no role in Ireland at all.

"In conclusion, I join with others here in stating that these killings will not derail the progress made in the past decade and a half but will renew our determination to advance the politics of peace and partnership, democracy and equality." ENDS

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