Belfast Telegraph

Manchester attack: Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson slams bomb 'hypocrisy' criticism

By Victoria Leonard

Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson has said accusations that her party behaved hypocritically by condemning Monday's Manchester bombing are "absolutely outrageous", and in defence said the "IRA did not start the war, the war came to us".

The party has been accused of "blatant hypocrisy" after its Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill signed Belfast City Hall's book of condolence for victims of the Manchester Arena massacre - less than a month after attending a commemoration for IRA members who died while attempting to bomb Loughgall RUC station.

She wrote: "Our thoughts and prayers are with the families bereaved and injured in Manchester. We stand strongly alongside you all in solidarity. God bless", before telling journalists she "couldn't imagine" as "a mummy" the pain being experienced by the families of those killed and injured in the Manchester suicide bomb, which she called a "horror attack".

On Wednesday she tweeted that she had spoken to Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, and "expressed my heartfelt sympathies and solidarity with the people of his city".

Yesterday the UUP's Tom Elliott said: "Either it is wrong to detonate bombs in cities or it is not.

"The key question being asked by victims is why it is not OK to bomb Manchester today, yet it was OK to plant bombs there in the past."

MEP Ms Anderson hit back at unionists who branded Mrs O'Neill's gesture as hypocritical due to the fact that the IRA bombed Manchester in 1996, injuring more than 200 people.

She said: "Sinn Fein is a political party; we stand on our record, particularly in the European Parliament, of putting forward proposals around the need to de-escalate conflicts all over the world. So Michelle O'Neill was reflecting the views of the people in the electorate, in the people who we represent and also the activists across our party.

"It's absolutely outrageous - are you trying to suggest that we should not, as a party who have been involved in peace building for many, many years, condemn such an attack? We should."

When asked if, given her condemnation of the Manchester Arena bombing, she would like to apologise to the victims of Provo attacks during the Troubles, the former IRA bomber said: "The IRA did not start the war, the war came to us.

"Thankfully, we are no longer in that place.

"The IRA issued a statement with regards to what happened here during the conflict.

"People know what happened."

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