Lord Dodds said:
“The glorification of terrorism has become a very real issue in Northern Ireland, with the rising tide of people engaged in such activity. We have seen sickening videos of many young people, born long after the ceasefires and the Belfast agreement, revelling in glorifying IRA terrorism. This is causing real concern that there seems to be a sanitisation of the IRA’s murderous campaign.
This is not helped by the vice-president of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill, who has gone around telling people that there was no alternative to the IRA’s campaign. But of course, as the leaders of democratic nationalism made clear during all of those years, there always was an alternative and there was never an excuse for murder, violence and mayhem.
When Sinn Fein is providing excuses for murder and terrorism, it is little wonder that people now take their lead from that and say, “If this is what our leaders are saying, we should glorify these people and celebrate them”, rather than making it clear that there was no space for such murderous activity. That is of course compounded by numerous examples of leading Sinn Féin elected representatives attending memorials, eulogising terrorists, praising their past activities and justifying murder today.
The building in which the MP for South Down has his office is named after two IRA terrorists. GAA clubs are commemorating IRA terrorists on their property—not in their capacity as members of the GAA club, or even as part of the GAA in general, but as volunteers in the Provisional IRA in East Tyrone. This is doing absolutely nothing for people’s faith in the restoration of the devolved Administration at Stormont.
There is a very toxic situation in Northern Ireland at the moment, and there are many examples where those elected to the Stormont Assembly are acting in a way which is stoking the flames of sectarianism and glorifying violence.
The recent escalation of the threat level to severe and the attempted murder of DCI John Caldwell are reminders that the eulogising of murder and bloodshed will inevitably be taken by others as the green light to carry out violence.
I welcome the commitment made by the NIO Minister Lord Caine that he remains open to constructive dialogue with us between now and the Report stage of the Legacy Bill about how these issues might be appropriately addressed.”