Two former senior IRA men yesterday branded the ongoing campaign by dissident republicans as “madness” and called for them to stop.
Antony McIntyre and Richard O’Rawe spoke out after a serving PSNI officer revealed to the News Letter that dissident republican numbers are swelling even further “with young recruits who have had no previous connection to the conflict”.
Seventeen bomb attacks have been carried out in the Province by dissident republicans in the last six weeks.
Mr McIntyre said: “Republicans lost the war and the IRA campaign failed and the dissidents need to be told that it failed rather then be allowed to continue thinking what they do.
“It cost so many lives.”
The former IRA man, who now lives in the Republic, said he believes the “current republican armed campaign is disastrous”.
“On Friday night anyone’s kid could have been in the city centre.
“After Omagh (bomb) that sort of thing should never ever have happened.”
Mr McIntyre added that he believes Sinn Fein needs to tell dissidents “that the IRA lost the war”.
“Armed republicanism was defeated and it was given up,” he said.
“That needs to be explained to them. They are making republicanism seem pathological instead of ideological.”
Richard O’Rawe said he did not believe the original IRA campaign “was worth one life”.
He said: “I don’t see any direction to what dissident republicans are doing – or any strategy.
“And I certainly don’t see any hope of them succeeding in removing the British from Ireland and getting a united Ireland.”
Mr O’Rawe, from Belfast, added that he believes their “whole campaign is insane”.
“There is no strategy to it and I don’t see any reason for it,” he said.
“It is going nowhere and it should stop.”
Former life prisoner Antony McIntyre, above, spent 18 years in the Maze, with four of those on a dirty protest.
After his release in 1996 he completed a PhD in history in Queen’s University. He has since worked as a journalist and author.
He was involved in the Boston College oral history project and is currently embroiled in controversy after transcripts of the interviews held by Boston College, were subpoenaed by the PSNI in relation to an investigation of the 1972 abduction and killing of Jean McConville.
Richard O’Rawe was IRA public relations officer in the H-Block during the hunger strike in 1981.
He is a strong critic of the IRA campaign and the current Sinn Fein leadership.
Mr O’ Rawe, a published author, wrote Blanketmen: An untold story of the H-block hunger strike. He has taken part in numerous documentaries on the IRA.