Republican protesters against the re-arrest of Sean Kelly, the man convicted of planting the Shankill bomb, forced the Works and Pensions Secretary David Blunkett to cancel his attendence at the visit of 20 employment ministers from across the EU to the Springvale centre. However, Michael McGimpsey was scathing in his attack, accusing the protesters of apparently being unable to understand the impression it would give to the outside world:
I find it astonishing that they staged a protest in support of a man who was responsible for the murder of 10 people in the Shankill bomb a day after the carnage in London. It is an example of republicans shooting themselves in the foot, if you pardon the pun.
It is an example of their extremism taking them on the one hand into an incomprehensible position and on the other hand damaging the republican project in the eyes of European ministers. When you consider that this protest was staged in an area where Sinn Fein representatives are always calling for continued investment from Europe because of deprivation, it is more than just stupidity. It is biting the hand that feeds them.
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