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Sinn Fein mayor comes under fire for 'insulting' comment about the Army on social media

By Donna Deeney

Published 30/05/2015

Sinn Fein’s Elisha McCallion
Sinn Fein’s Elisha McCallion

The Sinn Fein mayor of Derry and Strabane has been heavily criticised over comments she posted on social media referring to "Brits" when talking about terror attacks by dissident republicans.

Commenting on Facebook this week, Elisha McCallion said in reference to the dissidents: "If the Brits couldn't break us I doubt if they can."

She was referring to two firebombings carried out by dissidents on cars belonging to two of her party colleagues.

Former Derry DUP mayor Maurice Devenney said the terminology used by Ms McCallion was "highly offensive" to the Protestant, unionist, loyalist community that he represents.

Mr Devenney raised the issue at this week's full council meeting.

Ms McCallion said that no offence to anyone was intended by her remarks and she apologised.

She then suggested to Mr Devenney that perhaps he would consider the offence caused by him when he said "Sinn Fein/IRA every second sentence". Speaking after the council meeting, Mr Devenney told the Belfast Telegraph that Ms McCallion should remember during her term as mayor that she represented both communities in the city.

He added: "A number of people brought the comments the mayor wrote to my attention and told me how deeply offended they were by them.

"To the Protestant, unionist and loyalist community, her derogatory term for the Army is extremely insulting.

"She must remember she is mayor of Londonderry and Strabane and as such she is supposed to represent everyone.

"We had discussed in the chamber how to treat the ethnic minority, but the community I represent is a minority in Londonderry and this insulting language will alienate her from the people who I represent.

"When I was mayor of Londonderry, I said I would represent everyone and that is what I did, but it is a time when you have to be careful what you say so that you do not cause offence."

Mr Devenney welcomed Ms McCallion's apology and the wider condemnation of the dissident republican attacks in Derry over the past month.

He added: "The attacks by dissident republicans on the probation office in Crawford Square and at the Territorial Army base on the Limavady Road were rightly condemned by most of the councillors.

"The dissidents could learn lessons from the way Sinn Fein/IRA has come on their journey.

"The way Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness met with Prince Charles is to be welcomed, as is the way Sinn Fein/IRA can now sit alongside other parties in Government at Stormont."

Ms McCallion would not comment further on her Facebook posting.

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