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Pictured: DUP met Hamas too, Sinn Fein slams 'unionists hypocrisy and faux outrage'

By Noel McAdam

Published 30/11/2016

DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson meeting with members of Hamas in August
DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson meeting with members of Hamas in August
Palestinian Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip

Sinn Fein has accused the DUP of hypocrisy after it came under attack for meeting the militant Palestinian group Hamas.

In a further deterioration of relations between the two main Stormont parties over their Middle East links, republicans said DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson met Hamas representatives a few months ago. Sinn Fein MLA Pat Sheehan posted a photograph of the Lagan Valley MP with Hamas officials and accused his party's power-sharing partners of blatant double standards.

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He said the row over the delegation his party sent to Turkey at the weekend was a manufactured one. Mr Sheehan also emphasised that politicians here had a duty to help troubled areas across the globe work towards reconciliation.

His criticism came after DUP MEP Diane Dodd accused republicans of "glorifying terrorism" by sending the delegation led by Declan Kearney to meet Hamas leader Musa Abu Marzouk, among others, in Istanbul last weekend.

Mr Sheehan said: "The faux outrage and hypocrisy surrounding Declan Kearney's visit to Turkey is a storm in a teacup.

"All political representatives have a duty and responsibility to assist in peace-building efforts in other parts of the world."

Sinn Fein’s Declan Kearney during his meeting with Hamas representative Dr Musa Abu
Sinn Fein’s Declan Kearney during his meeting with Hamas representative Dr Musa Abu

In his tweet he asked what the DUP would have to say about Mr Donaldson "meeting Hamas in August".

Mr Donaldson was not available for comment.

But a DUP statement said: "Whilst working in a personal capacity, Mr Donaldson met with Israeli parliamentarians and members of the Palestinian national Assembly."

A senior party source also explained that the main thrust of Mrs Dodds' comments were "criticisms about those who would glorify terrorism. Jeffrey's meetings were with both sides".

The source added: "That stands a little different to Sinn Fein's stance on Israel when they support boycotts and so on by councils here."

Mrs Dodds had said: "Sinn Fein have regularly sought to use the international stage to wrongly glorify their own past.

"Sinn Fein speak of wanting a 'viable peace process' and 'inclusive negotiations' with Israel.

"Yet the fact of the matter is that such talks can only be viable if they do not include lingering commitments to terror and criminality from Hamas and other Palestinian paramilitary groups."

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie said it was up to Sinn Fein to decide whether to meet Hamas or not.

He added: "The bottom line is that they should be persuading Hamas to give up violence and to get around a table with Israel and negotiate.

"That is what the region wants.

"It is in the interests of the whole world, and it is exactly what Sinn Fein did themselves."

Mr Kearney said that the Sinn Fein delegation "outlined our experience of the Irish peace process and gave an analysis of the current political situation in Ireland".

Belfast Telegraph

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