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Date Posted: Thu, Jan 04 2007, 15:24:20 PST
Author: IRISH NEWS (front page story)
Subject: PSF "threatens" objectors to policing

Front Page, Wednesday, January 3, 2007

THE IRISH NEWS

Sinn Fein
“threatens”
Objectors
to policing

(by Claire Simpson)

A FOUNDING member of the Provisional IRA and a former hunger strike leader has claimed Sinn Fein is threatening republicans who oppose moves to support policing.

Former Sinn Fein assembly member John Kelly, and west Belfast republican Brendan Hughes, allege that the party has tried to silence people “who seek a wider debate on the policing matter”.

In a letter to The Irish News they say: “A number of people have been warned by Sinn Fein that they must not attend independent meetings organised by republicans around the policing issue.”

Sinn Fein last night described the claims as “total nonsense.”

The party is preparing for a special Ard Fheis later this month at which it is expected to give formal support to the PSNI and Garda.

Kelly and Hughes reject Sinn Fein claims that senior party members are under threat from dissident republicans.

“It is not the threat of physical attack that Sinn Fein leaders fear,” the letter reads.

“This is evident from the way they continue to go about their daily lives.

“We are concerned that in a bid to stifle wider discussion within the republican community.Sinn Fein leaders are pursuing a strategy of threat against dissenting voices.

“They are disguising their own menace by attributing violent intent to these voices.

“Such voices are healthy in republicanism unafraid of critical self-examination.”

Mr Kelly, a former Mid-Ulster assembly member, and Mr Hughes, who led IRA prisoners during the first Maze hunger strike and was once closely connected with Gerry Adams, claim the party is frightened that disillusioned republicans will challenge them at the next election.

Although they claim to have “no position on electoral intervention one way or the other,” the men say: “Those who wish to discuss all matters relevant to republicanism including an alternative electoral strategy to Sinn Fein’s must be both free and safe to do so.”

A Sinn Fein spokesman said: “This is total nonsense. It has no basis in fact or reality.

“A number of Sinn Fein members have attended these meetings.”

Mr Kelly, who supports the Good Friday Agreement, left Sinn Fein in 2003 amid claims that it was a “control dictatorship.” He claimed the party was unhappy at his decision to speak to dissident republicans in Maghaberry jail and his attendance at two rallies organised by Marion Price of the dissident-aligned 32 County
Sovereignty Movement.

Transcribed by a civil rights trainee, Jan. 4th.
Approved by IA-PL network director, mark 60%
Letter on P14 will follow soon.

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