Sinn Fein staged its election launch yesterday in defiance of dissident republicans’ callous murder of police constable Ronan Kerr.
Party president Gerry Adams said he wanted to send a message to the perpetrators: “If they woke up thinking they would dominate (the election), they are not.”
In contrast the DUP and SDLP cancelled planned election events, partly as a mark of respect to the PSNI victim and his sorrowing family and friends.
But Mr Adams ducked an opportunity to characterise the decisions of other parties as regrettable, and said he would make no comment.
“We considered carefully over the past 48 hours whether or not to proceed with this launch... and the more we thought about it and discussed it, the more important it seemed to us that the political process cannot become a hostage to the unrepresentative group which murdered Constable Kerr,” he said.
However, Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott accused Sinn Fein of sending out mixed messages by standing up for republican Gerry McGeough on the one hand while condemning dissident activity on the other.
Minister Michelle Gildernew had provided McGeough with a character reference ahead of his sentencing last week, after the former IRA man was found guilty of the attempted murder of an off-duty UDR soldier 30 years ago.