Belfast Telegraph

DUP calls for Sinn Fein council chair to quit after walkout over Enniskillen bomb comments

The DUP has called for the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council's first citizen to quit.

It comes after unionist and SDLP members staged a walkout from the council meeting on Thursday night when chairman Mr McCann refused to apologise for controversial comments he made about the Enniskillen bombing.

DUP councillor Keith Elliott has said Mr McCann should resign. He said the council meeting was "chaotic" with a number of members wanting to have their say. He claimed Mr McCann refused to hold a debate on the matter and "cut off" microphones of those that wanted to speak.

He told the BBC: "He is not the first chairman in a Fermanagh council that wouldn't condemn the Enniskillen bomb but this is a young fella, we are looking to the future and we believe as chairman of the council that his comments should be representative of all the community and comments like that aren't."

He said further discussions would be held and they would be calling for Mr McCann to resign.

"We believe he is not fit to hold the office.

"In the council our party is a small grouping if we are not there business will continue. So today we will be having discussions with our party leader on the way forward."

The UUP described the councillor's refusal to retract the comments and condemn the bombing as "frankly perverse and clearly unbefitting of someone who is supposed to be the first citizen of our local District.

"How can Councillor McCann seriously justify to himself that he is truly representing this area?" said Howard Thornton who proposed the motion asking for an apology and retraction of his comments.

"In not condemning terrorism, Mr McCann appears to many people to be supporting the actions of the Provisional IRA.

"Is this really the respect, honesty and integrity agenda we are really getting from Sinn Fein? The buzzword agenda from Sinn Fein has been shown to be nothing more than a bare faced farce."

Sinn Fein has been asked for a comment.

Sinn Fein's Stephen McCann provoked anger when he refused to "go down the road of condemning" the Remembrance Day bombing, which killed 11 people and left 63 injured in 1987.

DUP, UUP and SDLP members left the meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council in Enniskillen Town Hall 10 minutes into last night's gathering.

The West Tyrone councillor, who was appointed the chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council last month, declined to "condemn this or condemn that" during an interview with the Impartial Reporter newspaper.

"The root cause of the problem was the British involvement in Ireland," he claimed.

During the same interview, he praised former IRA man Seamus McElwaine, who was shot dead by the SAS in 1986, for his contribution to a peaceful future.

DUP leader Arlene Foster previously named McElwaine as the man she believed tried to kill her father, John Kelly, in 1979. Former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness also gave a graveside oration at McElwaine's funeral.

SDLP councillor John Coyle branded Mr McCann's remarks "disgusting".

He added: "Sinn Fein talk about respect, equality and integrity. Well, their view of respect, equality and integrity is clearly very different from mine."

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