28/04/2011

RIRA Reject Derry Priest's Peace Talks Offer

A dissident republican group thought to be behind several bombings, murders and attempted murders of members of the security forces today rejected an offer of a face-to-face meeting with a catholic priest in Londonderry.

Fr Michael Canny, from St Eugene's parish in Derry called on the Real IRA (RIRA) to stop their campaign of terror.

He said he was willing to enter into dialogue with the dissident group.

"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 said.

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

However, a source close to the organisation said the Real IRA saw no point in accepting the priest's offer of face-to-face talks.

The news came as the DUP's Strangford MP Jim Shannon called on the Prime Minister David Cameron to ensure that there is a strong response to dissident terrorists who issued threats in Londonderry over the Easter Period.

Mr Shannon made the call during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons.

Speaking from Westminster Mr Shannon said: "Over Easter dissident republicans threw down the gauntlet to the law-abiding community in Northern Ireland.
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"In Londonderry the murderous thugs that are dissident republicans threatened PSNI officers, they threatened churches and they threatened elected representatives right across the political spectrum.

"It is vital that this attack on the democratic process is forcefully met and the entire community send out a message that we will not allow Northern Ireland to be dragged back.

"I am glad that the Prime Minister was able to send out a strong message that scenes of people dressed in balaclavas is simply not acceptable in this or any other part of the United Kingdom," he said.

He also noted that he the Government at Westminster has helped to provide extra policing resources to tackle the terrorist threat that exists in Northern Ireland.

"I stand foursquare with the comments of the Prime Minister in hoping that the PSNI will "hunt down" these people," the MP continued.

Today, it also emerged that the family of murdered PSNI officer, Ronan Kerr, placed a notice in Belfast's morning newspapers thanking those who helped with his funeral.

The 25-year-old Catholic constable died when a booby-trap bomb - planted by dissident republicans - exploded under his car in Omagh earlier this month.

In the notice, his mother Nuala, brothers Cathair and Aaron, sister Dairine and wider family expressed their "heartfelt thanks".

They also paid special tribute to the roles of the GAA and the PSNI in the service.

(BMcC/GK)

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