A highly decorated British Army captain and now a unionist politician has strongly disagreed with Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s remarks that the IRA and ISIS were similar in using religion as an excuse for killing.

Cardinal Dolan made the controversial remarks on CNN when discussing ISIS. Captain Doug Beattie won the Military Cross and served with the Royal Irish Regiment in Iraq. 

He stated: “ I don’t think the IRA has used religion as their reasons for carrying out what they have done,” he added.

“I think the IRA would have done what they have done had they all been atheists.”

“We cannot lay all the blame on republicans,” he said.

“That would not be right. Blame is spread about the whole of Northern Ireland.”

He  said ISIS and the IRA did share a willingness to murder and to control their communities by violence ”and that many individuals will often use faith as a way of finding “solace” in their terrible actions.”

“Because the reality is that what they were war criminals and terrorists, and that’s what criminals and terrorists do, regardless of religion.” Beattie  is also a best-selling author and UUP councillor in the Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon authority.

Meanwhile, however, another unionist politician has agreed with Cardinal Dolan’s point.

David Simpson MP stated: "When republican gunmen opened fire through a closed door into a church in Darkley their victims were selected because of their religion. Loyalists too selected victims at random for sectarian murder, and sometimes in the most brutal fashion.

"The only difference between these and IS is that Islamic State terrorists now choose to broadcast their actions to the world via the internet."

The Upper Bann MP added: "Some people in Northern Ireland are uncomfortable when a light is shone on their very similar actions during the Troubles. They seek to justify their brutal crimes by saying it was for an honourable cause. This is complete folly. Terrorism of any hue was never justified.”