IRA patriots, not gangsters: McLaughlin

04/03/2005 - 11:15:39

Sinn Féin chairman Mitchel McLaughlin has rejected a suggestion put to him in a radio interview that the IRA are "a bunch of gangsters".

He was being interviewed today on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

When asked whether he would accept that the IRA are “a bunch of gangsters”, he said: “No, of course not. I think that they are people who are patriots. That is not to ignore the fact that they make mistakes and sometimes very very horrific and tragic mistakes.

“But in the main I think that the people of Ireland recognise in the long history of the IRA that we are dealing with patriots.

“But my view is that we have come to a juncture in politics in Ireland, and indeed in the relationships between Britain and Ireland, where this issue can now be resolved by entirely peaceful and democratic means, and that is the role and the lead role that my party Sinn Féin is playing.”

Mr McLaughlin was asked whether anyone with information about the McCartney murder or the Northern Bank raid should contact the police.

He said: “Sinn Féin have a view that the British government have not yet delivered … on police reform. And a majority of people in the north of Ireland within the nationalist and Republican community support Sinn Féin’s view.

“Nonetheless, Sinn Féin fully supports, unambiguously supports people making available any evidence or any information that would lead to the judicial process that will give the McCartney family the justice they deserve.

“So, if you can go to the PSNI, do so. If you have difficulty with going to the police service, then go to other reputable, authoritative bodies, including the Police Ombudsman.”

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