Sinn Fein’s deputy first minister has launched a scathing attack on dissident republicans, dubbing them 'bitter and twisted'.
Sinn Fein’s deputy first minister has launched a scathing attack on dissident republicans, dubbing them ‘bitter and twisted’ following a series of letter bombs being sent to senior figures in Northern Ireland.
On Friday, the Army safely defused devices discovered at a Royal Mail sorting office in Belfast addressed to Matt Baggott, chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, and senior commander in Derry, Jon Burrows.
On Monday, a viable letter bomb was discovered having been posted to the offices of the Public Prosecution Service in Derry; and yesterday a fourth device addressed to Northern Ireland secretary Theresa Villiers was found in the post room of Stormont Castle.
In condemning the attacks, secretary of state Villers warned that:
“If those responsible think that this kind of criminal activity will further any agenda, then they are completely mistaken.”
Equally defiant, DUP first minister Peter Robinson, who was forced to be evacuated from Stormont Castle as a result of yesterday’s alert, declared:
“Those responsible for sending this, and other devices, through the post have absolutely no regard for the lives of postal workers and staff working in offices.
“They will not further any aim or objective by their vile and callous deeds.
“Northern Ireland will not be dragged back by terrorists who have nothing but misery to offer.”
The strongest criticisms, however, came from deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, who took to twitter to launch an aggressive condemnation of the dissident republicans responsible for the spate of letter bombs.
“Letter bombs, attacks on places of Worship, Graves & Orange Halls are the offerings of bitter & twisted little minds & will further nothing.”
Sinn Féin MLA Caitríona Ruane, a member of the Policing board, meanwhile argued that those responsible ‘will do nothing to advance the cause of Irish republicanism’.
The events come amidst concerns about the potential for a further increase in violent activity across Northern Ireland. Speaking yesterday to the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee, assistant chief constable Drew Harris said of the dissidents:
“There does not seem to be any diminution in their intent or any sense of them trying to find some route for dialogue with other parties or the government.
“They seem entirely wedded to a route of violence.
“We have concerns about upcoming anniversaries and whether they want to use those for their own purposes in getting publicity.”
In a grim illustration of his concerns, just hours after the assistant chief constable’s words, the Army defused a bomb in the village areas of South Belfast.Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.