Alexa

Sinn Fein deputy says IRA dissidents threatening to kill him

Sinn Fein deputy says IRA dissidents threatening to kill him

The deputy leader of Sinn Fein, the Irish Republican Army-linked party planning a momentous shift this weekend to support the Northern Ireland police, said on Thursday that IRA dissidents may be planning to assassinate him.
Martin McGuinness, a veteran IRA commander, said police officers in his native Londonderry warned him on Wednesday night that IRA dissidents were tracking his movements and the risk to his life had "substantially increased."
Police in December warned Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams and the party's policing spokesman, Gerry Kelly, that they faced an assassination threat from IRA dissidents. So far, no Sinn Fein official has been attacked.
The reported threats come as Sinn Fein leaders prepare for a potentially historic party conference on Sunday in Dublin. Adams, McGuinness and other leaders will ask members to vote to open normal relations with the Police Service of Northern Ireland _ an essential step to reviving a Catholic-Protestant government in the province.
Sinn Fein unveiled a glossy leaflet on policing being inserted on Friday into two major Northern Ireland newspapers as well as the Andersonstown News, the major periodical in Adams' power base of Catholic west Belfast.
Sinn Fein's push to dump its anti-police policy received support on Thursday from an unlikely quarter _ the widow of the last police officer in the Irish Republic to be killed by the IRA.
"It would be momentous and I would applaud them if that is the way they are going," said Anne McCabe, whose husband Jerry was shot dead in 1996 while guarding a van carrying cash that an IRA unit tried to rob.
But she said she was deeply skeptical Sinn Fein would give a clear-cut commitment to law and order.
"They have to embrace the police, they have to _ but not on their terms. I wouldn't have any trust in the republican movement," she said, using the blanket term for Sinn Fein and the IRA. "They say one thing and they mean another."
Two splinter groups rejected the IRA's cease-fire in 1997, the Good Friday peace accord of 1998 that proposed power-sharing, and the IRA's 2005 decisions to disarm and announce a permanent end to its efforts to end British rule of the province by force.
The dissidents continue to mount occasional bomb and gun attacks in Northern Ireland, including on police officers and security bases, but have not killed anybody since 2002.
McGuinness said he was taking the police warnings seriously but added they "will only serve to strengthen our resolve."
McGuinness was scheduled to address a public debate on Sinn Fein's policing moves on Thursday night in Londonderry. He said he planned to attend despite the warnings.
He said the vast majority of IRA supporters would be disappointed "that so-called dissident republicans are targeting the Sinn Fein leadership in this way."
For decades, McGuinness and other Sinn Fein leaders have rejected the authority of the Northern Ireland police and have usually rejected their intelligence assessments. While other political leaders receive taxpayer-funded police bodyguards, Sinn Fein leaders have rejected the protection on both ideological and practical grounds.
A former IRA member who is now a prominent critic of Sinn Fein, Anthony McIntyre, said he doubted that dissidents were seriously scheming to kill any of the party's leaders. He said anybody who tried would face a certain IRA death sentence in return.
"I've spoken to many people about this and they have all ruled out the possibility that anybody would be so daft," said McIntyre, who runs a Web site devoted to alternative IRA viewpoints and criticism of Sinn Fein leaders.
McIntyre said he suspected that Sinn Fein leaders were publicizing threats to themselves to win sympathy in the run up to Sunday's vote.


Updated : 2020-11-30 23:09 GMT+08:00