‘Security chiefs fear Culture 2013 threat’
TOP security personnel fear violent republican groups pose a potential threat to Londonderry’s UK City of Culture 2013 celebrations, according to East Londonderry MLA Gregory Campbell.
Mr Campbell made the claim during a debate in the Stormont Assembly. He asked Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to “emphatically reject the failed policies of violence” espoused by various dissident republican groups antipathetic to Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013.
Already one dissident republican organisation opposed to the peace process has said the decision to hold Fleadh Cheoil na hÉireann in Londonderry is a blow to both Irish culture and the arts as it coincides with the city’s hosting of the UK City of Culture.
Other dissident republican organisations opposed to UK City of Culture 2013 have avowed their hatred of the award’s ‘British branding’ and its coincidence with Londonderry’s 400th birthday celebrations.
During the debate at the Assembly on Monday the East Londonderry DUP MLA asked the Deputy First Minister: “Is he aware that there is concern among senior security forces and police personnel regarding possible threats by dissident republicans to events to be held under the auspices of Londonderry being the first UK City of Culture, and how emphatic can he be in his rejection of the failed policies of violence?”
Mr McGuinness pointed out that he was very much part of the all-party delegation that went to Liverpool to present the bid.
He billed the achievement of Londonderry UK City of Culture 2013 status against all odds “as a huge success for the city - but, more importantly, as a huge opportunity for economic progress through the 2013 events that appear, at this early stage, to be exciting.”
He added: “I think that we all have to speak with one voice. From the time of the killing of the two soldiers at Massereene, through to the killing of Stephen Carroll and Ronan Kerr, our consistent approach in the Assembly has been that we have to speak with one voice in our utter and total condemnation of those who would try to drag us back to the past.
“Unfortunately, tiny and unrepresentative groups are still out there, which believe that it is a good idea to try to destabilise not just the peace process but these institutions.
“What they to come to terms with is that there is no prospect of destabilising the peace process, and there is no prospect whatsoever of breaking up the unity of these institutions.
“Some considerable time ago, the First Minister and I committed ourselves to the principle that, no matter what happens, we are going to remain firm, solid and united, and we are going to consistently express our unreserved condemnation of those who would try to disrupt the lives of our people and the prospects for economic progress in the future.”
Mr McGuinness said it didn’t matter if you called the city ‘Derry’ or ‘Londonderry’ 2013 was a wonderful opportunity.
“It ill-behoves anybody, whether they call themselves RAAD, Continuity IRA, the Real IRA or some other name, to try to disrupt what will be an exciting and important year for the city.
“That poses a huge responsibility on citizens who are among the tiny number of people who may give some sort of vocal or other support to such groups. “They need to think again and to recognise the damage that they will do to themselves and to their children. They also need to recognise that the activities of these groups are totally and absolutely futile. They need to understand that we are moving forward, and in a way that will ultimately ensure that we are the people who will prevail,” he said.
He also encouraged anyone who sees groups “committed to the destruction of the peace process or the political institutions that the people of Ireland voted for in 1998 - to help the Garda and the PSNI in whatever way that they can, so that we can undermine the activities of those people.”
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Wednesday 22 May 2013
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