Belfast Telegraph

Motion calling for Sinn Fein council head to retract Enniskillen bomb comments defeated

By Michael Sheils McNamee

A motion calling for the Council Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Stephen McCann to retract comments he made about the Enniskillen bomb and IRA volunteer Seamus McElwaine has been defeated.

In an interview with the Impartial Reporter in July, Chairman McCann said that he would not "go down the road of condemning" the Enniskillen bombing, and that the IRA's McElwaine had "set the tone for a peaceful resolution to where we are going".

This led to SDLP, DUP and UUP councillors walking out of a July council meeting in protest.

A motion calling for Chairman McCann to retract his comments was put forward at a council meeting on Tuesday by Ulster Unionist Party councillor Howard Thornton, and seconded by his party colleague councillor Chris Smyth.

It requested that "in the interests of equality, respect and integrity" the comments made by Mr McCann be retracted and "in the absence of so doing Council have no confidence in the Chairman and write to the leader of Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill to request he is replaced as Chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council".

Councillors voted down the motion with 17 against, 12 in favour and five abtentions.

Sinn Fein's councilllors - who make up the largest group on the council - voted against the motion, while it was backed by UUP and DUP councillors.

The SDLP's councillors abstained from the vote.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph following the meeting, UUP councillor Thornton said that he was "disappointed but not surprised".

"The Chairman has not apologised to the victims of the Enniskillen bombing. Nor can we expect that apology to be forthcoming, because Sinn Fein fully supported the chairman," he said.

"Really there is no change from Sinn Fein from 30 years ago. They talk about peace and reconciliation, but where is it."

Councillor Thornton added that this result was particularly disappointing considering the 30th anniversary of the Enniskillen bombing will be celebrated later this year.

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