Sinn Fein criticised by IRA veteran
A storm has arisen after IRA veteran and former Sinn Fein
assembly member John Kelly criticised the actions of some in the
party who he said had attempted to silence and sideline him.
He said he was censured after making efforts to reach out to
hardline unionists and republican dissidents.
Mr Kelly stepped down from the party last year, having announced
that he would not be defending his seat in Mid-Ulster.
In an interview with the Irish News, he said: I began to feel
that within Sinn Fein republicanism there was no room or no space
for people to have an opinion that was different from the
It was contrary not only to the whole spirit of republicanism,
but to the whole concept of the civil rights movement... I
thought it was dangerous and unhealthy.
The 68-year-old said political gains had been made through the
peace process, but said that creative ambiguity over the IRAs
future had devalued the 1998 Good Friday Agreement.
He pointed out that republican campaigns of armed struggle had
traditionally ended with those groups dumping arms and
Mr Kelly said tensions had been stirred by his decision to pay
humanitarian visits to dissident republican prisoners in
Maghaberry jail, and by his role in helping to elect DUP veteran
Willie McCrea as chairman of the mainly nationalist Magherafelt
District Council in line with an agreed powersharing scheme.
Sinn Fein responded in personal terms, accusing Mr Kelly of
simply being bitter "in the aftermath of his non-selection as a
candidate for Novembers assembly elections.
But in a statement issued yesterday, Mr Kelly stated out that he
had been selected, but had later come under pressure to stand
aside amid disapproval of his actions. He had subsequently
resigned from Sinn Fein.
And it was following that, that Sinn Fein held another
convention to elect someone to replace me," he said.
I said I did not intend to be a thorn in the side of Sinn Fein
republicanism. And I am saying that I will not allow them to be a
thorn in my side by abusing the truth with the dishonest
political instrument of creative ambiguity.
I have no trouble moving on, but from the platform of the truth,
not the platform of creative ambiguity.
* A court has ruled that Sinn Fein and a former party member
should pay 17,500 Euros for an assault on another former member
and intimidation of his wife in County Wexford during the last
Sinn Fein has claimed its Wexford branch was infiltrated by
Fianna Fail supporters with a view to causing trouble.