DISSIDENT militants are more concerned with undermining the leadership of Sinn Féin than in securing a united Ireland, a republican commemoration service heard yesterday.
Fr Joe McVeigh, a republican and peace campaigner, from Fermanagh, said dissident groups, which have mounted numerous attacks on security forces in the North over the past year, have no support or following among most people in his community.
“They represent nobody but a rump of embittered individuals whose gripe is not with British imperialism, but with the leadership of Sinn Féin,” he told over 100 people at the General Liam Lynch commemoration at Kilcrumper Cemetery in Fermoy, Co Cork.
“They know that they can never militarily take on the British, much less defeat them but that is not their objective. Their goal in ‘carrying on the fight’, as they would describe it, is to erode confidence in the leadership provided to republicans by Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. It’s as simple, as petty and as personal as that,” Fr McVeigh said.
He said a few journalists who act as their media mouthpieces seem determined to give the militants more credibility than their numbers warrant, but that factionalism can never bring about Irish reunification.
“The record of splinter groups, such as the so-called Continuity IRA and Real IRA, goes to prove this simple fact. They can inflict damage, they can kill people, they can intimidate people, they can even attract some disaffected young people from our communities, but they will never win broad popular support and without that they will never contribute to the cause of freedom,” he said.
The campaigner said the struggle for freedom and justice must continue in the approach to the centenary of the 1916 rising, one task being to persuade unionists that their best interests lie in a unified Ireland.
“It is time for the genuine republicans within Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour to devise and begin implementing a plan of action towards achieving Irish reunification and the 32-county republic.
“Their job will then be to sell that plan to their colleagues, so the centenary can become a positive contribution towards building Irish unity,” he said.
The annual service in Kilcrumper commemorates General Liam Lynch, who was IRA chief-of-staff during the War of Independence and led anti-Treaty forces in the Civil War.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved