Belfast Telegraph

Call for PSNI probe following Anderson’s speech

Controversy: Martina Anderson
Controversy: Martina Anderson
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

A leading victims' campaigner has called on the PSNI to investigate Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson over "venomous language" used at a recent republican commemoration.

Ms Anderson used the stage at a hunger strike commemoration in Strabane to tell Boris Johnson's Government that "your days in Ireland are numbered".

She ended her speech with the IRA slogan 'tiocfaidh ar la'.

Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, called for a police probe into the remarks after Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill urged the leadership of the main unionist parties to condemn the "deliberate goading of victims" which took place at last week's Apprentice Boys parade in Londonderry.

Mrs O'Neill said: "The inclusion of Soldier F and British Army Paratrooper emblems have been seen in Derry as a deliberate attempt to goad and antagonise the Bloody Sunday families.

"The decision of senior DUP representatives wearing Apprentice Boys regalia to pose for photographs under a Paratrooper regiment banner is seen in exactly the same light.

"However, instead of confronting this mocking of victims, both main unionist parties have sought to deflect and criticise the policing operation instead. Once again that is an abdication of leadership from the DUP and the UUP. Instead of defending disrespect and pandering to the lowest common denominator they should come out and clearly condemn this deliberate goading of victims."

The DUP's Emma Little-Pengelly said she was "astounded" at Mrs O'Neill's comments. "You literally speak at and commemorate IRA terrorists on a regular basis. You actually appointed convicted IRA terrorists as junior ministers with responsibility for victims," the MP said on Twitter.

The Clyde Valley band said they were entitled to their expression of support for Soldier F, a member of the regiment who is to stand trial for the murders of two men on Bloody Sunday.

The PSNI has said that displaying the Parachute Regiment emblems could have led to a breach of the peace.

Mr Donaldson said that if the PSNI were concerned about a breach of the peace, they should also examine the content of Mrs Anderson's speech. "Martina Anderson appears immune from prosecution for the words and actions she engages, the impact of her premeditated and divisive outbursts amount to incitement and hatred," he said.

"She has no concept of what it is to offer political or community leadership. We ask that the PSNI examines the speech she made in Strabane and indeed other similar speeches she has delivered.

"Glorification of terrorism and seeking to further psychologically terrorise those who have been impacted by her criminal actions and those of her 'comrades' is intolerable and must cease.

"Martina Anderson does not enjoy freedom of speech at all costs. When that freedom is abused for the purpose of agitating and inciting division then the authorities have a duty to call time on it."

The DUP met the Apprentice Boys yesterday. Afterwards, the party said: "For our part we have been, and will continue to be, sensitive to issues around parades in Londonderry and will continue in this vein.

"Success will be achieved and a better way forward for Northern Ireland charted when all sides share this outlook.

"Unfortunately in republican parades this does not seem to be the case as demonstrated most recently in Strabane. Republicans cannot escape their responsibilities given repeatedly offensive behaviour at their commemorations and parades."

A PSNI spokesman said that to the best of their knowledge they had received no complaints over Mrs Anderson's remarks in Strabane.

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