THE leader of Fianna Fáil has hit out at the New IRA, which was responsible for the death of a young journalist in Derry in recent weeks, labelling them “cowards”.
Investigative journalist Lyra McKee was shot and killed by the New IRA during riots in Derry on April 18.
Around 20 members of Saoradh, widely seen as the political branch of the New IRA, marched up the Bandon Road on Easter Sunday wearing military uniforms to commemorate the anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, just days after Ms McKee was murdered.
Saoradh recruitment posters were also seen on UCC campus last Monday, the day before Ms McKee’s funeral in Belfast.
Speaking at Fianna Fail’s 1916 Commemoration event at Arbour Hill on Sunday, Cork TD Micheál Martin said:
“Nothing is more disrespectful of 1916 – nothing does more to damage understanding and respect for the bravery and vision of its leaders – than for blinkered, unrepresentative and fanatical groups to claim any connection whatsoever to the rising and the national revolution which it began.
“Just as it has been the case for many years, not in our name and not in the name of the fallen of 1916,” he added.
“The very reason why 1916 is remembered with such pride by the Irish people is because it created new opportunities for promoting Ireland’s cause.
“Nothing would horrify them more than the idea that people 60 or 100 years later, sectarian groups constantly rejected by the people might claim any connection to their republicanism.”
While Deputy Martin said Fianna Fáil are incredibly proud of the “role which survivors of 1916 played in founding and leading our party for many decades”, he added that “1916 belongs to no party or sect, it belongs to the Irish people”.
He said no one or cause is responsible for the death of Ms McKee except those that are directly involved.
“Let’s be very clear that the murder of Lyra McKee is the responsibility of those involved alone.
“It is the sick and inevitable outcome of fundamentalists who no matter how often they wave the tricolour have nothing but contempt for the Irish people and for the democratic republicanism which is this island’s strongest tradition,” he said.
“These people are cowards who hide behind masks and act out a cartoon vision of republican activism,” said Deputy Martin. “And yet they cause great harm.
“They murder the legitimate forces of law and order. They attack democratic institutions. They brutalise and maim young people.
We have to be resolute in fighting these groups.”