Queen's University Belfast professor 'disturbed' by Gerard 'Jock' Davison tribute ad
The community groups who signed up to a full-page newspaper advert paying tribute to murdered former IRA commander Gerard 'Jock' Davison have been criticised by a leading Queen's University academic and author.
Davison was gunned down last week as he walked to work at a community centre in the Markets area of Belfast. His killer is still being hunted by police.
Emeritus Professor of Economic and Social History Liam Kennedy has questioned why some of the publicly-funded groups would "rush" to back the advert, claiming "it clearly brings the community sector into disrepute and raises many disturbing questions".
In a letter to the Belfast Telegraph published today, he said the list of organisations who signed up to the advert "reads like a roll call of nationalist organisations, suggesting some kind of communal sectarian reflex behind the initiative".
The Irish history expert added: "The bombastic account of his life was notable for what it didn't say. But down the years the silenced voices in the Markets and the Short Strand have spoken privately of a different man, of someone they feared and for whom they had little respect.
"In view of Davison's questionable past, one wonders why certain community groups, many funded by British and European taxpayers, would rush to produce the kind of hagiography apparent in that notice. Was this a misuse of public funds?"
He also questions how people with paramilitary backgrounds come to be so heavily involved in community groups. He wrote: "How were former IRA, UDA, and UVF members recruited into paid positions in community organisations? Should the Equality Commission carry out an investigation into the process of recruitment?"
He also praised the sisters of murder victim Robert McCartney for speaking out against the advert. They claimed Davison gave the order for him to be killed, but he always denied being involved.