Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Derry priest offers to meet RIRA

A senior Catholic priest has offered to meet members of the Real IRA as police launched an investigation into the latest threats issued by the dissident republican group during an Easter commemoration event in Londonderry.

A masked man threatened to kill police officers "regardless of their religion, cultural background or motivation", as part of a statement made at a 32 County Sovereignty Movement rally at Creggan Cemetery on Easter Monday.

Opposition to the Queen's forthcoming visit to Ireland was also voiced at the rally.

The PSNI say they want to speak to anyone who has any information regarding the incident.

Superintendent Chris Yates said it was decided that police would run "a low key operational response to the event."

He said police are determined not to let dissidents "drag everyone back to the past to suit their misguided objectives."

"They seek to target those who are at the very forefront of moving communities forward," he said.

"It is the job of the Police Service to bring to justice anyone who breaks the law. We will continue to do this objectively and impartially and take a robust stance against all dissident republican terrorist activity," he added.

"We are confident that every right minded member of society will continue to work with us and to give us the information we need to put these people out of business once and for all and in doing so, make Northern Ireland a safer place to live and work."


Derry priest Fr Michael Canny, who belongs to the parish of St Eugene's in the city, told UTV he would like to meet the Real IRA to ask them to "reflect on what you are offering to your own family, to your own friends and to your own supporters."

He said dissident republicans have to accept they cannot bomb unionists into a United Ireland.

"If they get involved in acts of violence and get caught - and get caught they will - they will spend long years languishing in prison. So, you are offering darkness and despair and misery to your own people", Fr Canny added.

He said the group needed to "reflect seriously on that and think of a better way."

The priest described the Easter period as "a celebration of light over darkness" for Christians.

He said the Real IRA statement was "very disappointing."

In Monday's statement the Real IRA described Catholic members of the PSNI as "traitors."

"Those who think they are serving their community are in fact serving the occupation and will be treated as such," the Real IRA said.

"The GAA, Catholic Church and constitutional nationalism will be unable to protect those who turn traitor.

"They are as liable for execution as anyone, regardless of their religion, cultural background or motivation."

The statement also described the Queen, who is set to visit the Republic for the first time next month, as "not wanted on Irish soil."