Ian Paisley slams Michelle O’Neill’s ‘atrocious’ comments on IRA violence

DUP MP Ian Paisley said comments by Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill claiming there was no alternative to IRA violence during the riots had created “a new crisis” for Stormont.

Orth Antrim MP Mr Paisley said Sinn Féin needed “serious rethinking and rebuilding” following the “absolutely cruel” comments made by Ms O’Neill who said there was no alternative to IRA violence during the riots.

Speaking on the BBC’s Stephen Nolan programme, Mr Paisley commented: “I find Michelle O’Neill’s comments absolutely cruel”, adding: “I think Sinn Féin needs to fix this”.

“Here we have someone who said there was no alternative to firing bullets and planting bombs, destroying life and causing chaos and murder,” he said.

“Yet this person aspires to be First Minister of Northern Ireland and has the mandate to do so.

“I think it’s absolutely shocking that Michelle O’Neill is actually here ideologically, that she’s not in a place ideologically where she can say, ‘This was wrong, this shouldn’t have happened and we should have looked around seek a democratic mandate day one.'”

Mr Paisley said he didn’t think there had ever been a situation that justified firing a bullet or planting a bomb or killing someone.

“It happened, but ideologically, I think this current group of Sinn Fein politicians really needs to take a good look at themselves and realize that they are retreating from an area that Sinn Fein was progressing from in 2007.”

Ms O’Neill, Sinn Fein’s vice-president and first minister-in-waiting, made the comments during an interview with the BBC’s Red Lines podcast.

As the daughter of a former IRA prisoner, she recalled that one of her earliest memories was the sound of army vehicles pulling up to her doorstep as the family home was searched.

“I don’t think an Irishman has ever woken up one morning and thought conflict was a good idea, but war came to Ireland,” she said.

“I think there was no alternative then, but luckily now we have an alternative to conflict and that is the Good Friday Agreement and that is why it is so valuable to all of us.

“My entire adult life has been building the peace process. I wish the conditions that actually led to conflict had never been there, I wish so many people hadn’t had the horrible experiences they had during the days of conflict.

“The only way we can ever build a better future is to understand that it’s okay to see the past differently.”

She added, “My narrative is very different from someone who may have lost a loved one to Republicans.

“But we have to be mature enough to be able to say, ‘That’s fine, we have to agree on that, but let’s make sure the conditions we’re in in this scenario never exist again’.”

On Tuesday, the brother of a man murdered in Kingsmill told the Belfast Telegraph the comments had been “disgusting”.

Colin Worton’s brother Kenneth was one of 10 Protestant workers shot in the 1976 atrocity.

“There was always an alternative to violence, the IRA simply chose not to use it,” he said.

“The alternative to killing people is not killing people, it’s as simple as that. No one, on either side of the divide, should have chosen the gun or the bomb. No one should have killed another.

“Kingsmill wasn’t about shooting gunmen in a fair fight. My brother and his friends were armed only with lunch boxes and thermoses.”

He said the comments showed Sinn Fein’s “narrow-minded” thinking.”

“For 30 years the IRA was married to the bomb and the bullet and Sinn Féin is still trying to justify it. I don’t think they will ever change,” he said.

On Wednesday TÜV Council Member Stephen Cooper said: “The claim by the chairman of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland that there was ‘no alternative’ to IRA terrorism is a telling insight into the mindset of someone who claims they want a first minister be for everyone.”

Victims activist Kenny Donaldson also condemned the comments.

“Whatever grievances (perceived or real) people have experienced in this society, they have never legitimized the murder of one neighbor by another,” he said. Ian Paisley slams Michelle O’Neill’s ‘atrocious’ comments on IRA violence

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