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Boot out Sinn Fein council chief after his Enniskillen bomb remarks, demand Unionists

By Aaron Tinney

The Sinn Fein politician who prompted outrage by refusing to condemn the Enniskillen bomb must be kicked out of his role as a council chief, unionist politicians have warned.

Stephen McCann provoked fury when he said he would not "go down the road of condemning" the IRA's Remembrance Day massacre that killed 11 people and left 63 injured in 1987.

In the same interview, McCann praised former IRA terrorist Seamus McElwaine - killed in 1986 by the SAS while preparing to ambush an army patrol in Fermanagh with current Sinn Fein MLA Sean Lynch.

DUP leader Arlene Foster has previously named McElwaine as the man she believed tried to shoot dead her father in 1980.

McCann said Lynch had "set the tone for a peaceful resolution to where we are going".

McCann - chairman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council - has insisted he will continue to speak "for all", despite a mass walk-out from a council meeting a day after his statements emerged.

Almost two weeks since the furore started, the Ulster Unionists yesterday said protests such as council walk-outs were not enough. They have now submitted a motion for debate in the council calling for Sinn Fein's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill to boot McCann out of his post if he fails to publicly apologise for his remarks.

UUP councillor Howard Thornton said: "There is much anger within the wider Fermanagh and Omagh community that the council chairman - who is of course expected to represent everyone - not only refused to condemn the 1987 IRA bomb in Enniskillen, but also praised the ruthless IRA terrorist Seamus McElwaine.

"It is unacceptable for the first citizen of the district to so blatantly ignore the deep hurt and feelings of a very large section of residents of the area, most importantly those victims who have suffered due to the indiscriminate Enniskillen bomb and the terrorist actions of McElwaine."

UUP councillor Chris Smyth added: "Sinn Fein talk about equality, respect and integrity, and that is what we all want.

"However, there are none of those qualities coming from the Sinn Fein representatives and certainly none from chairman McCann in his recent interview.

"The chairman now has an opportunity to redeem himself and his office through this motion calling on him to retract his comments, otherwise we can have no confidence with him in his role as chairman and call upon his party's leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill, to have him replaced as chairman."

The UUP said in its debate submission that McCann should apologise "in the interests of equality, respect and integrity".

DUP councillors Errol Thompson, Keith Elliott, Raymond Farrell, and Paul Robinson have already issued a statement saying they "refuse to sit under the chairmanship of Sinn Fein's councillor Stephen McCann".

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