Real IRA reject talks offer

The masked man who read out a statement from Real IRA.  (2904JB044)

The masked man who read out a statement from Real IRA. (2904JB044)

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The Real IRA have rejected the offer of a face-to-face meeting with a senior Catholic priest in Derry.

Earlier this week, Fr Michael Canny called on the Real IRA to stop its campaign of terror. He said he was willing to enter into dialogue with the dissident group.

“If they get involved in acts of violence and get caught - and get caught they will - they will spend long years languishing in prison. So, you are offering darkness and despair and misery to your own people”, Fr Canny said.

He said the group needed to “reflect seriously on that and think of a better way.”

However, a source close to the organisation said the Real IRA saw no point in accepting the priest’s offer of face-to-face talks.

On Monday, the group read out a statement during an Easter commemoration event at Derry’s City Cemetery claiming its violent campaign would continue. A masked man threatened to kill police officers “regardless of their religion, cultural background or motivation”.

He also described Catholic members of the PSNI as “traitors.”

“Those who think they are serving their community are, in fact, serving the occupation and will be treated as such,” the Real IRA spokesman said.

“The GAA, Catholic Church and constitutional nationalism will be unable to protect those who turn traitor. They are as liable for execution as anyone, regardless of their religion, cultural background or motivation.”

PSNI Superintendent Chris Yates said it was decided that police would run “a low key operational response” to Monday’s event.

He added that police were determined not to let dissidents “drag everyone back to the past to suit their misguided objectives.”

“They seek to target those who are at the very forefront of moving communities forward,” he said.

The Real IRA statement also described Queen Elizabeth II, who is set to visit the Republic for the first time next month, as “not wanted on Irish soil.”

On Wednesday, British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the rally during PM’s Questions in the House of Commons.

He said: “I’m sure everyone in this house and, indeed, this country would agree that scenes of people dressed in balaclavas in Londonderry are completely unacceptable”.

Foyle MP Mark last night criticised the Real IRA for being “morally and politically bankrupt”.