BY Kate Heaney
Sinn Féin TD Padraig MacLochlainn condemned the pipe bomb attack on a house in Muff this week and called on anyone who knows who was involved to contact the Gardai or PSNI.
The Buncrana based Sinn Féin deputy was unequivocal in condemning dissident republican groups whom he believes only have a tiny handful of support – as little perhaps, as “a couple of extended families”.
In an interview with the Donegal News Deputy MacLochlainn refuted claims made by some people that Sinn Féin knows who is carrying out recent acts of violence including the murder of PSNI officer Ronan Kerr.
The house where a pipe bomb exploded in Muff on Monday morning was the target of a shooting incident in March.
A group calling themselves Republican Action Against Drugs (RAAD) have claimed responsibility for Monday’s pipe bomb attack and warned local estate agents not to get involved in the sale of the property where the attack took place.
Deputy MacLochlainn said he is actively encouraging members of the public who know anything about the people who carried out these attacks to go to the Gardai and PSNI.
“I was recently asked by a group of US students and their lecturer could we in Sinn Féin not intervene and do something to stop these dissidents. We might have an idea of who the people aligned to these groups are but we do not know who has carried out these recent attacks.
“The people who killed Constable Ronan Kerr are a small bitter minority with little support. They have also tried to take the lives of our elected members in the north and senior members of the party have to travel with heavy security because of them.
“We would know the public figures of these groups like Marian Price and Gary Donnelly but the dogs in the street know them too. Those carrying out the actual operations are a whole new generation,” Deputy MacLochlainn explained.
He added that members of Sinn Féin have asked to meet those who publicly support the dissident groups – those who have defended their actions, who are seen at Easter commemorations.
“We have publicly and privately attempted to meet them but they refuse to take up our offer. All it takes is a handful of people who are hell-bent on violence, we saw it with Ronan Kerr – devastating consequences – it is a tiny handful of people,” he added.
Describing those who carried out the Muff attack and the bombing of a bank in Derry’s Shipquay Street last Saturday, Deputy MacLochlainn said they were ‘tin-pot soldiers trying to compare themselves with the IRA of the 1970s to 1990s’.
He said their movement through Derry and Donegal was a lot easier now because of lessened security.
“The PSNI have the full support of the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland and the whole island as is the case with the gardai. I have no hesitation in saying that anyone who has information about dissidents and their activities should contact the police. These people are ignoring the overwhelming will of the republican people never mind the unionists.
“The potential of the peace process to build bridges with unionism and build something exciting here, is the journey we are on. If dissidents choose the path they are currently on in their own arrogance they will find themselves in jail.
“They have no support and the recent election results showed that,” Deputy MacLochlainn added.
BY Kate Heaney