Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness, Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, has told dissident IRA factions that they are living in a fool’s paradise when it comes to thinking violence can work.
He was speaking at a County Derry celebration of the 1916 Easter Rising.He also strongly criticised the dissident groups for claiming they were the true IRA.
"It is patently not possible to advance towards Irish reunification by any means other than peaceful and democratic processes.” he said.
"Those who believe that Ireland can be reunited without the support of the Irish people are living in a fool's paradise."
McGuinness claimed the IRA who fought until the recent peace accord were not war mongers.
"They were a revolutionary force who when an opportunity to advance the struggle for Irish unity through peaceful means was established it removed itself from the political equation," he said.
"The IRA by its nature was of the people and for the people.
"It could not have survived and fought the British state the way it did if it was small and unrepresentative.
"People should be under no illusion, the small factions currently engaging in armed actions are not the IRA and they are not advancing national and democratic objectives by their activities."
He said: "Irish people are united in support of the Good Friday, St Andrews and Hillsborough agreements, attempting to overturn the will of the Irish people is not only futile it is stupid and selfish.
"Ireland can now only be reunited by the further development and outworking of the power sharing and all-Ireland institutions which were endorsed by the Irish people in the referendum in 1998. No act of violence will advance the cause of reunification by one millimetre.
"When taken in the context of a conflict resolution process, change can be traumatic. And this can be made even more difficult when there are those, both within sections of unionism and within the British political and military establishment who still want to hold on to the old ways.
"Our goal as Irish republicans is an Irish unity that is inclusive, that unionists will feel welcome in, that they are a part of.
"There is much work to do. But we believe that we are in the countdown to a united Ireland. We believe that together we can make further progress and truly transform society on this island forever.”
"We are all on the journey. It is always easier to begin a journey. The hard thing is to end it.
"Sinn Fein is in this process to the end. We want the British government and the Irish government and the unionists to work with us and to finish the work we have all started.
"The length of the journey can be shortened and the ups and downs on the road can be smoothed out if we go at it collectively. If we do it together."