During a discussion with my cousin Joe I asked him what steps he would take to end the war in Iraq. His response (after qualifying that I might not like it) was that we should simply ‘dust’ people at funerals.
I submit this as evidence that such tactics usually don’t lead to peace:
Uproar at Stormont as loyalist killer with bomb tries to storm assembly
Gun and knife seized after attack by Stone
Paisley ‘signals’ DUP assent to power sharing
Owen Bowcott, Ireland correspondent
Saturday November 25, 2006
Michael Stone is restrained by security staff after forcing the suspension of the Stormont assembly. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA.
The loyalist murderer Michael Stone forced the suspension of the inaugural meeting of Northern Ireland’s transitional assembly yesterday, when he stormed into the entrance hall of the parliament building armed with a knife, a handgun and what police said was a “viable” bomb.
The extraordinary scenes – as security staff wrestled him to the ground and politicians were evacuated into the rain – overshadowed political rows in the chamber where Ian Paisley was deemed to have signalled the Democratic Unionist party’s conditional assent to power sharing with its republican opponent Sinn FÃ©in. Between six and eight devices were recovered after Stone’s attack. They were defused by the army’s bomb squad.
Northern Ireland’s chief constable, Sir Hugh Orde, described them as “viable”. He added: “They are fairly amateurish in design, that does not make them any less dangerous.” He also said a gun and a knife had been recovered following “a sad publicity act by a very sad individual”.
Stone, who was freed under the Good Friday agreement after killing three mourners at an IRA funeral in 1988 (18 years folks, 18 years the guerrila war went on after that -MDW), began his lone assault on Stormont as the crucial assembly session began. He had spray-painted “Sinn FÃ©in/IRA mur …” on a pillar outside before, presumably, being spotted. He then forced his way into the building through the revolving doors.
A rucksack or holdall was hurled into the main hall, where photographers and cameramen were waiting outside the assembly chamber. According to some accounts he claimed there was a 25lb bomb inside. As Stone yelled “No Surrender” and “IRA fascists”, security staff overpowered him and carried him outside. One guard grabbed his pistol. Two security staff were injured in the struggle.
The incident is likely to provoke calls for an urgent inquiry into security procedures at Stormont.
Stone’s assault was an attempt to disrupt the long-anticipated day when the province’s two biggest parties – the DUP and Sinn FÃ©in – had to “nominate”, or at least indicate, their candidates for a restored power-sharing executive.
Mr Paisley’s speech did not make an explicit commitment. “This statement is one of the hardest I have ever made in this chamber,” he began. He accused Sinn FÃ©in of failing in its obligations to support the police and courts in Northern Ireland. “There can only be agreement involving Sinn FÃ©in when there’s been delivery by the republican movement.”
But the DUP leader did not demur when the assembly’s speaker, Eileen Bell, announced that Mr Paisley had satisfied the criteria for nomination set out in “directions” passed down by the Northern Ireland secretary, Peter Hain. Gerry Adams, Sinn FÃ©in’s leader, began his speech in Irish. He nominated Martin McGuinness as “deputy first minister designate”.
“He will be a champion of fairness and equality,” Mr Adams said, amid ironic jeers of “for the IRA” from Unionists.
The Ulster Unionist leader, Sir Reg Empey, said he believed there was a “hunger in the country to make progress” and that the future “trajectory” was towards “power-sharing between Sinn FÃ©in and the DUP”. But he made several digs at Mr Paisley, asking whether what had occurred was a “marriage or an engagement” and noting that “for years people have been telling us about things they would not do, they would never do, over their dead bodies”. Mark Durkan, leader of the nationalist Social Democratic and Labour party, said: “The public are getting fed up with this tired soap opera where we have the same plot line and give each other excuses to get away from the blame.”
There were signs of growing tension in the DUP. Twelve DUP assembly members later issued a statement challenging the speaker’s ruling. It said: “Given the total lack of movement on behalf of Sinn FÃ©in on the issue of support for the rule of law, the courts and the Police Service of Northern Ireland, nothing that we have said or done today can be taken by the government as an indication that they can imply shadow, designate or any other status to anyone in relation to the office of first and deputy first minister.”
In Downing Street, the prime minister said that despite the breach in security, the St Andrews agreement remained the only means of political progress. “No move forward in Northern Ireland is easy, we’ve learned that over 10 years. It’s not because the people, or indeed, the leaders in Northern Ireland want it to be so, but because each step towards a different and better future is taken alongside the memory of a wretched and divisive past.”
Michael Stone became infamous for carrying out a solo attack on mourners attending the funeral of the three IRA members shot dead in Gibraltar in 1988 by the SAS. Throwing hand grenades and firing a pistol, he burst into Milltown cemetery in West Belfast. Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness had been his original intended targets. Three people died that day.
Stone, one of the Ulster Defence Association’s veteran gunmen, was caught and convicted of six murders. For some he was a loyalist icon, for others a symbol of Ulster’s paramilitary derangement. He was given a 684-year sentence but under the Good Friday agreement qualified for early release. Friends yesterday claimed he had recently been put on heavy medication to cure severe arthritis.
The Ulster Political Research Group, which provides advice for the UDA, condemned his actions: “For Michael Stone to act out this gimmick in the most eccentric way was to make our people look petty and irresponsible.”