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Priest offers to talk to Real IRA after ‘execution’ threats

By on Wednesday, 27 April 2011

A member of the Real IRA reads out a statement on Monday  (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

A member of the Real IRA reads out a statement on Monday (AP Photo/Peter Morrison)

A Catholic priest in Northern Ireland has offered to meet dissident Republican paramilitaries who have threatened to “execute” Catholic members of the region’s police service.

The Real IRA – an Irish Republican Army splinter group that opposes the region’s peace process – said the Church would be unable to protect Catholic members of the police, whom the paramilitaries called “traitors”. It comes just three weeks after a Catholic member of the Police Service of Northern Ireland was killed in a terror attack.

In a statement read by a masked man dressed in military fatigues and flanked by other paramilitaries in Londonderry earlier this week, the group said: “Those who think they are serving their community are in fact serving the [British] occupation and will be treated as such.

“They are as liable for execution as anyone, regardless of their religion, cultural background or motivation,” the statement said.

Fr Michael Canny, administrator of St Eugene’s Cathedral in Londonderry, said he would like to meet the group to ask its members to “reflect on what you are offering to your own family, to your own friends and to your own supporters”.

“If they get involved in acts of violence and get caught – and get caught they will – they will spend long years languishing in prison,” he said.

“So, you are offering darkness and despair and misery to your own people,” he said.

Ronan Kerr, 25, was killed when a booby-trap bomb exploded under his car in Omagh on April 2. His murder brought widespread condemnation and his mother, Nuala Kerr, urged other young Catholics to continue the work of creating a more equal police service.

“This is at a time when we are striving for a neutral police force for the good of our country and I urge all Catholic members not to be deterred by this. We all need to stand up and be counted and to strive for equality,” she said.

For decades, Catholic Church and political leaders refused to support the police in Northern Ireland amid claims of discrimination and intimidation. However, after a swathe of reforms brought about by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the hierarchy agreed in 2001 to encourage young Catholics to join the force. Since then, largely due to a special 50-50 Catholic-Protestant recruitment policy, the number of Catholic police officers has risen from just a few per cent to almost 30 per cent.

The Real IRA was formed by former paramilitary members who refused to sign the peace deal that committed all sides to pursue their goals by purely peaceful means. The group insists that nothing short of a full British withdrawal from Northern Ireland will suffice, while mainstream former paramilitaries have embraced the democratic process to fulfill their ambition of a single united Ireland encompassing Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.

  • Taggart

    This so called roman catholic priest sounds very much like an IRA sympathizer to me

  • Christopher

    And what is wrong with that?

  • Knight

    The real threat to Ireland and Ulster is from the EU rather than Quisling ‘British’ governments. But, of course, those that want to murder need no excuse.

  • Bonydiver

    The vocation of priests, Christians ones at that anyway, are simply incompatible with the violence and killing of the IRA. Epressing sympathy just after a murder fro there cause shows sympathy extending beyond simple ideology.

  • Paddy

    You must be an Orangeman!!! How rude can you be??? Keep your uniformed commentary to yourself.

  • Michael Petek

    I would dearly love to grab this bunch of diehards by the scruff of the neck, transport them back in time to the 1990s and expose them to what went on in Yugoslavia. That’ll give them a grievance all right.

  • aisake

    I think the England government should handedover northern ireland back to the republic of ireland which is the solution to thisproblem.