Fury at Sinn Fein councillor's 'proud ex-IRA' outburst
A Sinn Fein politician who declared to a stunned council chamber in the town he once bombed that he is "a proud ex-IRA man" has refused to retract his comments.
Sean McGlinchey's outburst came as Causeway Coast and Glens councillors discussed the refugee crisis in Syria.
Yesterday, Mr McGlinchey was adamant he was standing over what he said - although Ulster Unionist councillors said they believed he was in breach of the Northern Ireland Local Government code of conduct. The UUP branded the remarks shameful and inexcusable.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph yesterday, Mr McGlinchey was unrepentant about his comment - although he expressed regret about some IRA actions.
"I am a proud ex-IRA man and I don't regret saying it, because it is true," the former Limavady mayor said.
"I am proud of the men and women who were in the IRA with me - but that doesn't mean to say I am proud of everything the IRA did.
"I am not proud of 'the Disappeared' and I am not proud that I played a role in the death of innocent people in Coleraine.
"The unionist state that existed where I, as a 16-year-old boy along with my 15 and 17-year-old brothers and my elderly father were arrested, interned and had the living daylights kicked and battered out of us, resulted in me becoming an IRA man. I came into politics to make sure there are no more Sean McGlincheys of those days created again."
As the discussion on refugees turned into a sectarian argument, the meeting was adjourned.
A DUP councillor had suggested that the IRA had created "plenty of refugees in Northern Ireland" in the Troubles by planting bombs and shooting people.
Mr McGlinchey said then that he was a proud ex-IRA man and if the councillor had any difficulty he could leave the chamber.
The Ulster Unionists are now seeking a meeting to discuss the controversy with the council chief executive.
The UUP's William McCandless said his party was "disgusted and dismayed by the outburst".
"This sort of statement is utterly shameful and completely inexcusable, particularly given that Councillor McGlinchey said it in the council chamber of the town where he murdered six people in bomb explosions in 1973. Is he proud of that?
"It has been 42 years since the IRA explosions in Coleraine, but this horrendous incident is still sharp in the memories of the families affected.
"The Ulster Unionist group will be seeking a meeting with the chief executive of the council to discuss this unacceptable behaviour, which we believe is a breach of the Northern Ireland Local Government code of conduct for councillors."