Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 December 2014

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly cancels Maze Prison book event after outcry

'I am changing the time and venue so as not to feed the book burning wing of Unionism'

Gerry Kelly at the launch of his book on the Falls Road l
Gerry Kelly at the launch of his book on the Falls Road l

Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly has cancelled an event promoting a book on the Maze Prison escape – which was to be held near where two soldiers were gunned down by dissident republicans.

The Escape, written by Mr Kelly, tells the story of the IRA breakout in 1983 in which he took part.

Mr Kelly has described his book as "a good yarn", however there was anger after it emerged he planned to hold a book-signing in Antrim, close to where Sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar were shot dead at Massereene barracks in 2009. Yesterday, the North Belfast MLA said he was cancelling the event.

Mr Kelly wrote on Twitter: "I am changing the time and venue of my book-signing in Antrim town so as not to feed the book burning wing of Unionism."

Ulster Unionist MLA Danny Kinahan said his comments were "contemptible".

"Mr Kelly's grasp of history is as tenuous as his grasp of the definition of terrorism," he said. "The Nazis burned books. The only people in Northern Ireland who sought to follow this path was the IRA when it firebombed the Linen Hall Library in 1993."

DUP MLA Trevor Clarke added: "Whilst Gerry Kelly hides behind offensive comments against unionists, he could not ignore the offence his planned event caused.

"The Disappeared documentary this week gives a much more accurate picture of IRA activities than a partial account of the Maze escape."

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