Belfast Telegraph

Councillors walk out in protest at Sinn Fein chair's Enniskillen bomb comments

SDLP, DUP and UUP councillors have walked out of a meeting of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council in protest at comments made by its new Sinn Fein chairman Stephen McCann.

In an interview with the Impartial Reporter earlier this month Mr McCann said that he would not "go down the road of condemning" the Enniskillen bombing, the thirtieth anniversary of which will be marked in November.

In the interview he also praised former IRA volunteer Seamus McElwaine saying that he had "set the tone for a peaceful resolution to where we are going".

DUP councillors Errol Thomspon, Keith Elliott, Raymond Farrell, and Paul Robinson this evening issued a statement saying that they "refuse to sit under the chairmanship of Sinn Fein's Cllr Stephen McCann".

"It was widely publicised how Mr McCann refused to condemn the Enniskillen bomb and pledged support to the actions of local IRA terrorist Seamus McIlwaine. Tonight our party challenged Mr McCann on his comments and he refused to provide immediate clarity nor an apology," the statement read. 

"We have walked out and withdrawn from tonight's meeting. Our protest recognises the huge hurt and anger felt by many innocent victims following his comments. We are encouraged that our protest was supported by fellow unionists and other nationalist members. We are forever indebted to those men and women from across Northern Ireland who stood against republican terrorism."

Councillors from the UUP cited similar reason's for their withdrawal, saying that their councillor Howard Thornton had made a formal proposal asking for an apology and retraction of the comments made - something that McCann refused.

In the statement, Cllr Thornton said: "In not condemning terrorism, Cllr McCann appears to many people to be supporting the actions of the Provisional IRA in Enniskillen on Remembrance Day in 1987, when 11 people were murdered.

"Cllr McCann failed to demonstrate any rejection of the brutal, callous actions of Seamus McElwaine, the cross border-serial assassin."

The statement ended with: "Is this really the respect, honesty and integrity agenda we are really getting from Sinn Fein? No respect has been shown by Cllr McCann to the innocent victims of the Provisional IRA terrorism. The buzzword agenda from Sinn Fein has been shown to be nothing more than a bare faced farce.

"Our thoughts this evening are with all innocent victims of terrorism both in County Fermanagh and further afield."

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