The Irish and British decision to speak to the dissident IRA groups is the correct one.

The secret talke were revealed by Martin McGuinness,(above), Northern Ireland's First Deputy Minister.

I brought this very issue up to former British Secretary of State Sean Woodward in New York last year but he dismissed the notion.

I have no idea whether they were talking to them even then.

The British have a history of proclaiming one thing in public and doing exactly the opposite.

Remember John Major's famous statement that talking to the IRA would turn his stomach at the same time his government was secretly negotiating with them?

That irritated the Irish government at the time as no one sent them the memo.

They had taken the British insistence of no contact at face value.

A senior IRA figure once told me that once the British engage they never let go.

The reasons for that are self serving and practical.

No terrorist group is a monolith, not the Taliban,Al Qaeda or the dissident IRA groups.

Within their structures are individuals who would settle for political power depending what was on offer.

In the case of the dissidents there are many who had a personality clash with the Sinn Fein leadership and could be negotiated with to put that behind them.

Sinn Fein have already begun that process.

Martin McGuinness merely ensured that the two governments could not resume a hypocritical approach of condemning them for doing what they were doing anyway.

In the end not talking only ensures that militants rule within those groups.

Remember before he became public enemy number one Osama Bin Laden was a major ally of America in the battle against the Russians in Afghanistan.

Yesterdays freedom fighter is today's terrorist. The British in particular know that.

They are hoping to draw out the politicians within the dissidents.

It worked with Sinn Fein and the IRA.

They are right to try again.

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