Belfast Telegraph

Anger of Poppy Day bomb victim’s son as SF council chief attends IRA tribute


By Michael Sheils McNamee

The attendance of Sinn Fein’s Fermanagh and Omagh District Council chairman Stephen McCann at a commemoration for IRA volunteers has been branded “disgusting” by one of the survivors of the Enniskillen bomb.

Victims campaigner Stephen Gault was 18-years-old when the 1987 Remembrance Day attack happened, and saw his father, Samuel, killed in front of him.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr Gault questioned why Sinn Fein councillor McCann was able to attend the Tyrone Volunteers Commemoration held in Strabane on Sunday in memory of IRA members, but had not been able to condemn the attack that killed his father.

“At the minute nothing surprises me with what Sinn Fein do,” he said.

“You have Gerry Adams talking about respect, honesty, integrity over the weekend, and then you have the likes of Stephen McCann who has refused to condemn the IRA bombing on Remembrance Sunday.

“Words can’t describe what I am feeling but it is totally disgusting. Where was the respect for the victims of the IRA,” he said.

“He was at a commemoration for terrorists, glorifying the actions of terrorists.”

Mr McCann (below) was heavily criticised for an interview he gave in July to the Impartial Reporter in which he said the Enniskillen bombing was a “dreadful day”, but declined when asked to condemn the attack.

In the same interview, he also praised IRA member Seamus McElwaine who was shot dead by the SAS in 1986. Subsequently, a motion was put forward in Fermanagh and Omagh District Council by Ulster Unionist councillor Howard Thornton calling for Mr McCann to retract his comments, or for Sinn Fein’s leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill, to replace him in his position at the head of the council.

As the largest party in the chamber, Sinn Fein was able to defeat the motion that was supported by the UUP and DUP.

Speaking about the 30th anniversary commemoration of the Enniskillen bomb that is due to take place later this year, Mr Gault said it was unlikely Sinn Fein would be represented at the commemoration.

Responding, a spokesperson for Sinn Fein said Mr McCann had attended Sunday’s event “to remember the republican patriot dead in a respectful and dignified manner and to stand in solidarity with the families who have been bereaved”.

“Republicans have the same right as any other section of the community to remember our loved ones. It is a right that is recognised in the Good Friday Agreement,” she said.

“Our pain is no less and no more than anyone else’s.”

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