Donald Trump in crosshairs magazine cover slammed by UUP's Mike Nesbitt
Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has slammed a Dublin magazine showing President Donald Trump in a gunman's sight with the caption 'Why Not' on its front cover as "reprehensible".
Mr Nesbitt said that as leader of a party which had several senior politicians murdered during the Troubles, he was astounded at the publication's behaviour.
The February edition of Village Magazine carries a photograph of Donald Trump with crosshairs superimposed on the president's left temple.
Many social media users interpreted it as supporting the assassination of Mr Trump. Village's editor Michael Smith has strongly denied the allegation.
Last night, he told the Belfast Telegraph that the cover was a "provocation to think" and that the magazine was opposed to violence.
But Mr Nesbitt said: "The people responsible for that magazine cover have acted reprehensibly. It is contemptible and we condemn it unequivocally, not least in the name of politicians like Sir Norman Stronge and his son James, Robert Bradford MP and Edgar Graham - all murdered by the IRA."
The UUP leader claimed that in Northern Ireland, the magazine cover would be "illegal as incitement to violence of the worst kind".
He denounced the "pathetic attempts at justification" by the magazine's management. "They would do better to offer a fulsome public apology and hang their heads in shame," he said.
The front cover led to a huge backlash against Village on social media with calls for its management to be reported to police and refused entry into the US.
But Mr Smith insisted that the front cover was being misinterpreted. He said that the words 'why not' beside the provocative image were now a question, but pointed to an explanation of why Mr Trump shouldn't be targeted.
"It's not an incitement to anything. We're politically correct, right-on, the last magazine that would recommend violence or killing anyone," he said.
"Our cover is a provocation to think. Village is a) a magazine of ideas and b) aims to challenge. The methodology of the editorial which backs the cover and conclusion are clear."
The article that accompanies the cover, reads: "So what is to be done? We have one of the worst men in the most powerful position, one where he can do damage to millions, to billions, to the planet."
It adds: "So perhaps the solution is tyrannicide. As he might say himself - 'take him out'." But it concludes that killing the president would be unethical, "even in the case of Trump".
During the Troubles, both unionist and nationalist politicians were murdered here. UUP MP the Rev Robert Bradford was shot dead by the IRA in Belfast in 1981.
Ten months earlier, the Provisionals had killed former Stormont Speaker Sir Norman Stronge and his son at their Co Armagh home. UUP Assembly member Edgar Graham was assassinated in 1983 outside Queen's University Belfast, where he was a lecturer.
Loyalists targeted many Sinn Fein politicians. The party's vice-president Maire Drumm was shot dead when she was recovering from an eye operation in the Mater Hospital in 1976.
Sinn Fein member Sheena Campbell was shot dead in 1992 in Belfast's York Hotel near Queen's University, where she was a law student. The previous year, the UDA killed party councillor Eddie Fullerton at his Buncrana home.
Gerry Adams was shot and wounded in 1984.
In 1996, the IRA attempted to kill police officers guarding the DUP's Nigel Dodds as he visited his sick child in the Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital.