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Republican dissidents 'speaking to British government' - McGuinness

Deputy First Minister says that both the Irish and British governments have spoken to terrorists in recent weeks.

Image: Niall Carson/PA Wire

NORTHERN IRELAND’S Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, has said that dissident republican terrorists have spoken to both the British and Irish governments in recent weeks.

McGuinness told BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback programme that London authorities had held negotiations with republican splinter groups in recent weeks, while Dublin had secretly met such groups for years.

McGuinness, who himself negotiated on behalf of the IRA during the prime ministry of Margaret Thatcher which ultimately led to the 1994 ceasefire, said:

They may well deny that – [but] that doesn’t concern me in the least. I know it’s happening.

I think we have to understand that there are number of tiny, micro-groups out there. These groups are a volatile concoction and are ideologically opposed to the peace process.

The Continuity IRA has ruled out the prospect of dialogue with the British government or the Sinn Féin leadership, though the Irish government was known to have met with Real IRA representatives after the 1998 Omagh Bombing.

A Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman said the had “never been our practice” to negotiate with paramilitary groups, while the Northern Irish Secretary of State, Owen Paterson, has denied claims that London was seeking to negotiate through intermediary parties.

Last week’s Sunday Times had reported that the British government was seeking to meet with CIRA representatives, despite opposition from Dublin.

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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