A tweet by Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly questioning whether ‘State agents’ were aware of the intercepted mortar bomb attack in Londonderry has been declared “an own goal given his own history”.
DUP MP Gregory Campbell spoke out after he learned of the tweet, posted on Monday.
It said: ‘‘Dissidents are so infiltrated its hard to know if they planned attack on Derry people or State Agents did Either way it was disgusting #fb” (sic)
Earlier PSNI commander Chief Superintendent Stephen Carlin said that “mass fatalities” were avoided on Sunday night after four live mortar bombs were recovered from a van, intercepted by the PSNI in Londonderry, minutes before they were due to be launched.
The Citroen Berlingo van had its roof cut back and the bombs were ready to fire - officers believe the intended target was a local police station.
Four men have been arrested following the discovery on Sunday night in the Letterkenny Road area, close to the border with Co Donegal, as around 100 homes were evacuated.
Police are linking the find to dissident republican terrorist activity.
Mr Campbell said he did not know what the reason for that tweet was.
“This is an own goal in the sense that people will look back a few years and make exactly the same reference about the Provisional IRA,” he said.
“Whenever people did make similar comments [in relation to the IRA], senior Sinn Fein people were lining up to accuse them of mischief making and to attack them. But now he is making the same type of comment.
“I think he needs to examine his own past record when he makes a statement like that and be prepared for the obvious criticism that will come his way now that he has made it.
“The IRA was riddled with informers as well, and it wasn’t only Denis Donaldson and others that we know about.
“There are a series of people who we can refer to who have been alleged to have been informers for years if not decades, so would he then make the same inference that all the actions that were carried out by the Provisional IRA were then approved by the organisation he was a part of or the agents who work and manage informers?”
Sinn Fein deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness commended the PSNI for intercepting “what was clearly an attempt to launch a mortar bomb attack on one of the local PSNI stations”.
He said: “It was through their good work that we are not talking about a disastrous situation in Derry.”
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, branded the attack a “grim reminder” of how severe the terrorist threat continues to be in Northern Ireland.
“The people responsible are small in number and enjoy almost no public support, but they have lethal intent,” she said.