Dissidents' plan to commemorate Christmas Eve IRA bombers slammed
Plans by dissident republican party Saoradh for a Christmas Eve commemoration for two IRA bombers who blew themselves up and killed a teenager in Newry have been condemned by unionists.
Aubrey Harshaw (18) died in 1973 along with two IRA members when a premature explosion killed all three men outside a bar on Monaghan Street.
Mr Harshaw was delivering a message to the bar when the bomb, carried by Edward Grant and Brendan Quinn, detonated, killing him instantly.
Saoradh have been linked to the dissident republican group the New IRA and described by the PSNI as the "voice" of the terror organisation.
The group faced a backlash after a New IRA gunman shot and killed journalist Lyra McKee in Londonderry in April.
The annual memorial service was condemned by Newry and Armagh DUP MLA William Irwin, who said Grant and Quinn's actions should not be "glorified nor celebrated".
"An 18-year-old innocent lad lost his life in this explosion and more than 30 were injured," he added.
"It was Christmas Eve. Only a warped person would plant a bomb in a bar on any day of the year but it takes a really wicked and depraved character to plant a bomb on Christmas Eve.
"This bomb did not target soldiers. It targeted families doing their Christmas shopping. No one should be deprived from remembering the death of a loved one but the act that these young men were perpetrating should not be glorified nor celebrated.
"To do so, sends an utterly confusing message to this generation of young people. Bombing and shooting never achieved anything other than broken families and broken hearts on all sides."
The memorial was also condemned by UUP councillor for the area David Taylor, who branded it "distasteful".
"I would not come to expect anything else from this organisation," he added. "My thoughts will be with the family of Aubrey Harshaw who very sadly lost his life as a consequence of the actions of the two terrorists Saoradh seek to commemorate. I have no doubt the wider community will ignore the event as any attempt to commemorate the actions of terrorists is completely wrong.
"Anyone involved in terrorist activity is committing evil crimes and such actions should not be celebrated in any way."
Saoradh's Newry representative Stephen Murney said: "Edward Grant and Brendan Quinn were both tragically killed on Christmas Eve 1973.
"The volunteers were on IRA active service when an improvised explosive device which they were handling detonated prematurely.
"Tragically, the same bomb also claimed the life of a civilian."
The service is due to begin at noon on Christmas Eve at Derrybeg Martyrs Monument.