Monday, 4 October 2010
An Unwelcome Visitor to the Tory Conference?
The US and UK have issued terrorist alerts for their citizens. Then days ago the Home Office announced that the security threat level from dissident republicans had been increased to 'substantial' after a new risk assessment was received from M15. The Prime Minister is understood to be "quite concerned" about the possible risk of a terrorist attack in Birmingham during the four day Tory conference which began in Birmingham today.
Yet Martin McGuinness is heading to the Conservative Party Conference for the first time - increasing the security headache for police who fear a dissident IRA attack. Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister is scheduled to speak at a fringe event in Birmingham on Tuesday.
It's common knowledge Martin McGuinness held a senior rank in the Provisionals when the organisation bombed the 1984 Conservative Party conference in Brighton killing 5 people and injuring scores of delegates in the Grand Hotel.
First Minister Peter Robinson, the SDLP leader Margaret Ritchie and former Unionist Party leader Sir Reg Empey are also scheduled to speak at the fringe event.
There will be little in the way of a welcome for Mr McGuinness I suspect but why did the Tories invite him? He refuses to take his seat in the House of Commons although he claims relevant expenses. That is the place in which debate should take place. There will be many questioning this decision, particularly when the memories of Brighton are only 26 years old - only a generation. Let us not forget the violence in Northern Ireland continues today.