Dissident campaign bolstering Sinn Fein support, says former IRA man

Tommy McKearney gives his view on the current political state of affairs in Northern Ireland.
Tommy McKearney gives his view on the current political state of affairs in Northern Ireland.

The dissident republican campaign could be bolstering Sinn Fein, ex senior IRA man Tommy McKearney has claimed.

Mr McKearney, 61, told the News Letter: “What is happening today is arguably adding to the Sinn Fein position in that they reflect the overall view of the nationalist community by condemning the dissident campaign. I think the dissidents do not realise that.

“Sinn Fein have not scored well in dealing with the Welfare Reform Act, or housing and the economy, but this is one that they have performed very well with and can handle with confidence.”

Mr McKearney does not believe many ex IRA members are now dissidents.

“There is clearly a small number of former Provisionals who may well be associated with dissident republicanism. But I think, looking at it from my perspective, if there was a significant Provisional IRA input we would see a significantly different campaign. It would be much more damaging, and thankfully it is not. If you pick the entertainment quarter of Belfast coming up to Christmas, if you want to make yourself look bad, then that is what you do.

“I think we are talking about a very small number of people with very little support. That is not to say there aren’t disaffected republicans, but in terms of the extent of support for a return to arms, I think it is very small.”

He said another difference from before is lack of support.

“There was support and momentum for the Provisional IRA. That is not to give it legitimacy or anything, it is just a fact,” he said. “There is nothing similar today, in fact it is quite the opposite.”

Yesterday republicans Anthony McIntyre and Richard O’Rawe told the News Letter the dissident campaign was futile. Mr McIntyre said the Provisional campaign had been defeated while Mr O’Rawe said it was not “worth one life.”