‘Politics should be goal for dissidents’ says ex-Sinn Fein MLA

Republicans on parade
Republicans on parade

Former Sinn Fein MLA Paul Butler yesterday joined the chorus of veteran republicans calling for the ongoing campaign by dissident republicans to stop “because they are totally infiltrated and going nowhere”,

Mr Butler, 56, who was handed down a life sentence, said attempts had been made by Sinn Fein and former IRA men to explain to dissidents the futility of their campaign, “but it got nowhere”.

Paul Butler

Paul Butler

He said: “In my view having been involved in republicanism and Sinn Fein and having been in jail - they should call it to a halt. They are not going anywhere with their campaign.

“Current groups are heavily infiltrated. All of those groups, even the mainstream IRA was infiltrated with informers, but I don’t think any of them are facing up to this.

“But they need to be aware that infiltrating them now is much easier because look at the resources the British have.”

The Magilligan jail escapee added that the only option for dissident republicans is politics.

“Even when the IRA was fighting in the 70s it was their ultimate aim to get to politics,” he said. “So these groups need to give up their armed actions and try to get a mandate.”

When asked if he believed the lives lost through the IRA campaign were justified, Mr Butler said: “It would have been better if there had been a political solution to the northern conflict much earlier.

“Asking was it worth it, it is unfair to just ask just republicans that. I think the IRAs campaign was a reaction to the oppression of the northern state. What you had in the early 70s was many years of discrimination and repressive legislation. So it was inevitable there would be an armed campaign against it. But the state - the RUC, UDR and army - were also engaged in it so it was not just republicans. They should be asked as well.”

He said the current “deadlock between Sinn Fein and the DUP” at Stormont doesn’t persuade dissidents to stop their campaign.