BY ED WEST
DISSIDENT Republicans in Northern Ireland have turned down an offer of dialogue made by a Derry priest.
Fr Michael Canny, administrator of St Eugene’s Cathedral, Derry, and spokesman for Bishop Séamus Hegarty of Derry, made his offer following a statement by the Real IRA at an Easter commemoration event in Derry City Cemetery, in which the group said it would intensify its campaign of violence against police officers. But a Real IRA source said last week they would not meet with Fr Canny “at this time” because the paramilitary group believed there would not be any merit in such talks.
Fr Canny said that, despite the rejection, he was optimistic that such discussions would take place. He said: “I feel that I have been somewhat knocked back by this rejection but today is another day. Really, the stakes here are very high. We are talking about matters of life and death.
“They have not ruled it out as a total non-runner. The phrase ‘not at this time’ has given me some confidence that talks may take place. This phrase was correctly used by them and I am confident that through me or other channels they will come to the table.” The breakaway group is blamed for the murder of PC Ronan Kerr, who was killed in Omagh last month by a car bomb.