Attempts to justify the Provisional IRA’s bombing campaign are helping “legitimise” attacks such as the attempt to kill a police officer in Londonderry on Wednesday.
The DUP’s Foyle Assembly candidate Gary Middleton expressed that view to the News Letter as he added his voice to those speaking in condemnation of the bomb attack in his home town.
The bomb was discovered under a serving police officer’s car in the quiet, residential Ardnalee area of Culmore in Londonderry’s cityside.
The device, which police described as “intricate”, exploded when it was touched by a robot deployed by bomb disposal experts.
No one was hurt in the attack but Superintendent Gordon McCalmont emphasised the potentially deadly nature of the attack on his colleague.
Mr Middleton said attempts to legitimise similar attacks carried out by the Provisional IRA during the Troubles was playing into the hands of dissident republicans.
“Terrorism 40 years ago and terrorism today – there was no justification for it then and there is no justification for it now,” he said.
“Sinn Féin need to remember that the IRA that existed 40 years ago were no different to those that are carrying out these attacks on police officers today.
“Any Sinn Féin member coming out and justifying what the IRA carried out decades ago is no different to justifying what has been carried out in Londonderry this week.
“The actions were the same and so was the hurt caused. I don’t think anybody could justify what was done 40 years ago and condemn what has just happened without seeing the irony of that.
“The people that are carrying this out – and we have heard it from dissident elements – are saying that these are the same methods that were used decades ago.”
Referring again to the attack on the officer, Mr Middleton added: “These people need to be taken off the streets because they will try and try again.”
The bomb attack on the officer sparked one of two simultaneous security alerts in the north west.
A second incident took place in the Co Tyrone village of Sion Mills, where a ‘suspicious object’ which later turned out to have been a pipe bomb was discovered in a residential area. The device was removed by ATO.
A police spokesperson said: “Detectives in Strabane can confirm that it was a pipe-bomb device which has been removed for forensic examination. A motive has yet to be established.”