SF slam Paisley medals call for RUC men who shot Provo Colum Marks
Sinn Fein have hit out after the DUP's Ian Paisley said that police officers involved in the killing of the IRA's Colum Marks should be given medals rather than investigated.
The DUP MP said the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) officer who "dispatched" Marks in Downpatrick, County Down, 26 years ago will be "traumatised" by another investigation based on "dodgy and fragile, fake" evidence.
He added the British state should be honouring the RUC officer and his team for "taking out one of Ulster's worst terrorist criminals" rather than "dragging them through the process of constantly going over what they did".
Lawyers for the Marks' family confirmed in June 2016 that the police ombudsman was launching a fresh investigation into the killing after a new eyewitness account emerged.
Police claims that Marks was armed and refused to stop when an attempt was made to arrest him are disputed, with the family's lawyers labelling it a "shoot-to-kill" operation by the RUC.
Speaking in the Commons the DUP's Jim Shannon echoed calls for a medal and labelled Marks an "evil, obnoxious, psychopathic, multiple killer".
Mr Shannon earlier broke down in tears as he called for justice for four young British soldiers who were killed in an IRA roadside bomb.
The Strangford MP was overcome by emotion when describing the deaths of Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) soldiers Private John Birch, Lance Corporal John Bradley, Lance Corporal Michael Adams and Private Steven Smart.
They died when the IRA detonated a 1,000lb bomb under their car on April 9 1990 in Downpatrick.
He railed against the "odious, filthy, scum" involved in the murders, saying this included Marks - who he branded "vile and despicable" for his role in the bombing.
Sinn Fein have branded the comments "disgraceful".
Sinn Fein MP Mickey Brady said: "Remarks by the DUP's Ian Paisley about the RUC shooting of unarmed IRA volunteer Colum Marks are nothing short of disgraceful.
"Not only do such crass and disgusting comments add to the hurt of the Marks family, they are also an insult to all those who knew Colum and hold him in high regard.
"No one can be above or beyond the law, whether he is a friend of Ian Paisley’s or not.
"This is a further indication of the DUP's attempts to whitewash the past and it is symptomatic of their abject failure to deal with the legacy of the conflict.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Paisley (North Antrim) asked Mr Shannon: " Do you agree with me that the evening that Marks was dispatched, as you so colourfully put it, the team that was involved in that should be given medals for the service they did to our country in taking out one of Ulster's worst terrorist criminals?"
Mr Shannon replied: "I couldn't have put it better myself. That's exactly how I feel about it.
"The day that evil, obnoxious, psychopathic, multiple killer was put in the grave was a day that Ulster was a better place, and I say that without any compulsion whatsoever or any sympathy for that person in relation to what happened.
"It would have been better the day he was never born than the day that he came into this world and caused murder, mayhem and injury right across the whole of the province."
Mr Paisley later told Northern Ireland minister Kris Hopkins: " In this particular case, the officer who dispatched Marks has now been through three individual inquests. I know the chap personally, he's a friend of mine growing up.
"He has gone through an ombudsman's inquest and now hanging over him is a second ombudsman's inquest on the basis of the most dodgy and fragile, fake evidence that has been produced.
"And that will be dispatched very, very quickly but that's not the point - he will be dragged through that whole process again.
"His wife and his family will be traumatised by it and that's why I said he and his team should have been given a medal that night.
"That should be the honour our state should be giving to these people, not dragging them through the process of constantly going over what they did."
Mr Hopkins said he understood the passion shown by Mr Paisley, adding: "I just think it's important there is balance and it is proportionate in our response and the state's response to this."