Page last updated at 17:21 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Dissidents defend use of violence

By Mark Devenport
BBC Northern Ireland political editor

Richard Walsh
RSF spokesman Richard Walsh would not condemn the killings

The party generally believed to be the political wing of the Continuity IRA has held its first news conference since the recent killings in N Ireland.

Republican Sinn Féin refused to condemn the attacks describing them as regrettable but inevitable "acts of war".

Two soldiers and a policeman were shot dead by dissident republicans earlier this month.

The news conference was called to complain about police raids.

The party's publicity director, Richard Walsh. also used the press conference in Belfast to complain about the detention of suspects at Antrim police station.

Mr Walsh responded to the Deputy First Minister Martin's McGuinness's description of those behind the recent killings as "traitors to the people of Ireland. "

He said Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams had been guilty of "severe treachery" and the Provisional IRA were now unionists.

"We have always upheld the rights to the Irish people to use any level of controlled and disciplined force to drive the British out of Ireland. We make no apology for that," he said.

The party has no plans to run in forthcoming elections and refuses to say how much support it has.

Three young men from Craigavon also appeared at the news conference.

The men, who did not want to be identified, complained that their homes had been raided and one man said the police had taken all his clothes.

One of the people detained by the police in Antrim police station was present in the building whilst the news conference was taking place but declined to be interviewed.

A police landrover parked outside the party's office in west Belfast kept an eye on those leaving the building after the news conference.

Constable Stephen Carroll was shot dead on 9 March. The Continuity IRA said it killed him. Two men have been charged with his murder.

Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar were shot dead by the Real IRA two days earlier.

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