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MP: Sands film screening will reopen wounds in town

By Allan Preston

Published 30/07/2016

Tom Elliott
Tom Elliott

The screening of a documentary film about republican hunger striker Bobby Sands in Enniskillen will reopen old wounds from the Troubles, a unionist MP has warned.

Ulster Unionist MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Tom Elliott hasn't seen the documentary - Bobby Sands, 66 days - but said showing it in the town's IMC cinema next Friday could bring back painful memories, including the IRA Poppy Day bombing of 1987 in which 12 people died.

Sands was elected MP for the constituency in 1981 at the height of his fast in the Maze.

Local Sinn Fein MLA Sean Lynch has challenged Mr Elliott to see the film first before passing judgment.

"I've written to the film company asking some questions; we'll see what they come back with and what assurances they could give me about the content," Mr Elliott said.

"I've no interest in going to it at this stage but if the film makers are telling me it's going to portray him as he was - a terrorist and a criminal who was part of an organisation that left broken homes and individuals, that caused murder and destruction - then I'll certainly consider it."

The producers have insisted the documentary does not romanticise Sands, but places him in historical context.

Mr Elliott added: "Clearly Bobby Sands was a divisive figure when he was alive and obviously created significant division in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. I've no great enthusiasm for this film company or indeed any of those that fund the film that could be trying to justify terrorism in any way."

Mr Lynch responded: "I would ask Tom to go and see the film first and then have some utterances on it. It will only open wounds for people who want them open, no matter where you show it you'll have the same argument.

"I think it will start a debate about those years and therefore I welcome it.

"I encourage Tom to go and see it and then make his judgment on it - we'll not agree on everything."

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