Belfast Telegraph

Victims slam Belfast terror tour for 'profiting from misery and death'

By Aaron Tinney

A "political tour" of Belfast hosted by former republican and loyalist prisoners has been angrily condemned.

The Irish Tour firm is advertising the £18-per-ticket 'Conflicting Stories' walk, alongside top tourist routes.

Relatives of Troubles victims last night lashed advertising for the tour as "warped".

A shop window poster for the walk refers to it being led by "republican and loyalist ex-political prisoners" and says: "We invite you to walk the streets of the city on both sides of the peace line with the men and women who risked life and liberty and served time in prison for standing up for their beliefs."

The Irish Tour tickets company, based on Great Victoria Street, is advertising the tour on behalf of the Belfast Free Walking Tour business.

Victims' campaigner Raymond McCord - whose son Raymond jnr was murdered 20 years ago by the UVF - said: "I would never pay to go on a tour like that, and don't understand anyone who would, especially not if it was hosted by ex-terrorists. It is just profiting from misery and death.

"And let's be clear, that's what the hosts of these tours are. They are not 'political prisoners' as advertised on the posters for this tour. Political prisoners are people who go to prison because they have been fighting for democracy or their political beliefs or against a system they don't believe in.

"Those involved in the Troubles attacks are murderers and thugs. You go to jail for being a murderer and a bomber and a gunman and a thug. Not for your so-called 'political beliefs'.

"That goes for both the loyalist and republican sides. The Shankill Butchers were not political prisoners. No money should be made from these tours."

Mr McCord also called on Belfast City Council to shut down the walk.

Kenny Donaldson, a victims' campaigner who runs a tour of sites targeted by terrorists in Fermanagh, said he was disgusted by the advertising material.

"The language used to advertise this is totally skewed and is the same language terrorists use to glorify murders," he added.

The Belfast Free Walking Tour website said of the Conflicting Stories tour: "The purpose of this tour is to give the guest an insight to why young men and women would risk their lives and liberty for an ideal.

"Any statements and opinions expressed on this tour by the guides are strictly their own and Belfast Free Walking Tour does not endorse any political view, the use of violence and promotion of any political agenda.

"The guides are contracted to share their own personal story of the troubles."

Robbie Campbell, who manages the Belfast Free Walking Tours, last night said the guides on the Conflicting Stories tour were supplied by ex-prisoner organisations Coiste and EPIC.

He rejected claims that the tour in any way glorified terrorism - and invited victims' campaigners to contact him to discuss any issues they may have about it.

The Irish Tour company did not respond to Belfast Telegraph enquiries at the time of going to print last night.

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