Republican dissidents ‘still a threat to peace’

Republican dissidents in the North remain a serious threat to peace, Taoiseach Enda Kenny has warned.

Speaking at a special session of the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly in the Seanad, Mr Kenny said it would be wrong to play down the potential of dissidents to launch attacks.

The gathering saw unionist members of the Belfast Assembly from the UUP and DUP speak in the Seanad chamber for the first time.

Mr Kenny said the threat posed by dissidents was not a “myth” but a cause for “concern and anxiety”.

Mr Kenny said co-operation with the PSNI and Stormont was the best way to deal with the situation.

He added that the visit of the Queen last May had helped change the relationship between the two countries and that Britain was now Ireland’s “closest friend on the world stage”.

However, Mr Kenny said he had clashed with David Cameron, the British prime minister, over how to investigate the murder of Northern human rights lawyer Pat Finucane. Mr Kenny said he would continue to press for a public inquiry into the 1989 death.

Renowned chef Darina Allen, of the Ballymaloe cookery school in Co Cork, addressed the assembly, stressing an all-island approach to pushing food and agricultural issues. She warned against GM potato experimentation in Carlow and urged against raw milk being banned.

Ms Allen said Ireland had an agricultural sector that other countries “would kill for” and should be focusing on harnessing it to boost exports as well as tourism.

The parliamentarians attending the 44th plenary session of the BIPA also expressed concern at RTÉ’s plans to close its London bureau in September.

The assembly called on the two governments to intervene in the matter.

Politicians both North and South raised concerns over the closure of RTÉ’s London bureau.

Members said the closure in September could have long-term consequences for the Irish community.

Paul Murphy MP called for parliamentarians to urge the two governments to try to keep the bureau open.

In a motion put forward at the assembly’s 44th plenary session, politicians said they believed that on-the-spot access for Irish-based media and engagement in public life in Britain supports the fulfilment of the vision of future relations between the two countries.

The assembly said it noted that a fall in revenue had made it difficult for the state broadcaster to keep the London bureau.

RTÉ decided to close the office as part of a drive to save millions of euro.


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