A decorated military veteran offered his own counter-view to Cardinal Dolan – saying religion appeared to be much less of a factor for the IRA than for Islamic State.
Doug Beattie, formerly a captain in the Royal Irish Regiment, said the greatest similarity lay in their willingness to murder and to control their communities by violence.
Cardinal Dolan had drawn a close comparison between the use of faith by the IRA and Islamic State in a TV interview this week – prompting a raft of commentary on the subject.
He acknowledged that the Kingsmills Massacre is often linked to religion, and observed that many individuals will often use faith as a way of finding “solace” in their terrible actions.
“But I don’t think the IRA has used religion as their reasons for carrying out what they have done,” he added.
“I think the IRA would have done what they have done had they all been atheists.
“Because the reality is that what they were was criminals and terrorists, and that’s what criminals and terrorists do, regardless of religion.”
In essence, he said that while he sees little link between the IRA and Catholicism, Islamic State does use religion as a justification – although he added that its followers have “perverted the Koran and perverted Islam” to suit their own ends.
On the Nolan Show on Thursday morning, some callers had also spoken about the need to criticise state-linked crimes as well as those of paramilitaries.
Mr Beattie – who is also a UUP councillor in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon superauthority – said: “The point with the state is this – soldiers are bound by the law of armed conflict.
“They are bound by the rules of war, and they are bound by rules of engagement, and if they go outside of it, they are liable for prosecution – I know prosecutions don’t always happen, but they are liable for prosecution.”
He expressed nothing but condemnation for the IRA, although before the interview with the News Letter was over, he took pains to stress one final point about bloodshed in the Province.
“We cannot lay all the blame on republicans,” he said.
“That would not be right. Blame is spread about the whole of Northern Ireland”.