Ex-Provo killer says Mary Lou McDonald’s comments about former Dunnes Stores boss ‘are a further sign of party’s transition into the establishment’
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Mr Dunne – the son of Co Down entrepreneur Bernard ‘Ben Senior’ Dunne, the original creator of Dunnes Stores – died on November 18 in Dubai at the age of 74.
Anthony McIntyre was in jail for killing a UVF member at the time when the IRA kidnapped Mr Dunne in 1981 in a successful bid to extort money from his family.
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His remarks come one day after the News Letter carried comments from another former IRA man, Shane Paul O’Doherty, who believes Sinn Fein will soon sever its historic ties to the IRA as the price of entering top-tier politics.
Mr McIntyre agrees.
He said of Ms McDonald’s tribute to IRA kidnap victim Mr Dunne: “It is a sign of how eager they are to disassociate themselves from the past as part of the journey into the establishment.
"I think they'll do everything to get into office. I think Shane Paul is very probably right.
"At some point, if a refusal to condemn the IRA campaign is a barrier to political progress or a barrier to their political careers, they will condemn it."
He gave the recent example, covered at length by the News Letter, of how the party whipped its members to vote against the expulsion of Israel’s ambassador to Ireland, in what some observers believe is a sign that it is shunning its origins as a party of protest and re-posturing as a party of government.
"Do you see how easily in Belfast City Hall, every single councillor including former prisoners, were quick to abandon the Palestinians and to abstain from a motion calling for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador?” said Mr McIntyre.
"That's how far these people will go. They were pulled into line by their own grassroots. But this is a one way journey.
"They are not going back to anything radical.
“They're just another political party.”
Ms McDonald’s warm words for the late tycoon Mr Dunne stand in contrast to how the party’s news sheet, An Phoblacht, has described him.
In 1997, an article by then-editor Micheal MacDonncha (today a Sinn Fein councillor in Dublin) called him "one of the biggest businessmen in the country, and one of the worst employers".
Another article by the same author in the same year was headlined: "Big Ben – symbol of gombeen politics" (gombeen being Irish for a shady dealer).
In 1972, the IRA burned down the Dunnes Stores in North Earl Street, Dublin.
In 1985 the IRA’s smaller cousin, the INLA, bombed the city’s Henry Street store.
The IRA reportedly firebombed the Park Centre outlet in Belfast in 1993 (though details are scarce), and bomb threats were called in to two stores in the Republic of Ireland in 1996.