Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

First Minister condemns parade plan

Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson disagree over the Sinn Fein-backed parade

A Sinn Fein backed parade to commemorate two IRA bombers in the Co Tyrone town they were intending to target is insensitive and inappropriate, Stormont's First Minister has said.

But while Democratic Unionist leader Peter Robinson heavily criticised proposals for the event in Castlederg next month, Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness insisted people of all traditions in the region had a right to honour their dead.

Mr McGuinness said any commemoration should be done in a way that would not offend people and said a decision by the parade organisers to voluntarily reroute it away from the town's war memorial was sensible.

The Tyrone Volunteers Day event will mark the deaths of Castlederg IRA men Seamus Harvey, 23, and Gerard McGlynn, 20, who died in 1973 when a car bomb they were understood to be transporting to the town detonated early.

The explosion happened around three miles away at an Irish customs post across the border in Co Donegal. The Parades Commission adjudication body is set to rule on whether the event planned for August 11 can proceed.

Mr Robinson challenged the commission to be sensitive to victims of terrorism.

"I think we recognise there are very difficult issues we have to deal in the relation to the past but it's hard to think of anything that is more insensitive than to have a parade which glorifies those who sought to bomb Castlederg and to have that parade in Castlederg," he said.

"We have countless victims of IRA terrorism, I can just image the hurt that they are feeling at this time. If we are dealing with parades on the basis of respect then some respect has to be shown to these people."

Mr McGuinness acknowledged the plan had become "an issue" and that sensitivity was needed. He said: "I think the decision made by republicans in Co Tyrone to effectively divert the parade away from the cenotaph and those areas that might be considered to be contentious is a sensible decision."

"The big difficulty about all of this, this isn't something that just applies to republicans and how we deal with the past, it applies to nearly all of us within society and raises up for public debate the issues of how we deal with the past and whether or not people have a right to commemorate those people who have lost their lives."

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