Belfast Telegraph

Dissidents remove snowman with rocket launcher from Derry HQ

By Suzanne Breen

Dissident republicans have removed an image of a snowman armed with a rocket launcher and the message 'Wishing you an explosive Christmas' from the window of their Londonderry headquarters.

The painting appeared last week in the window of Junior McDaid House, where the Irish Republican Prisoners' Welfare Association, dissident republican party Saoradh, and the youth group Eistigi Doire are based.

The PSNI had been investigating the window display.

It was removed on Friday and it is understood that it will be replaced by another image highlighting prisoners' issues.

In a statement on social media, Junior McDaid House said the painting was "dark humour" and had been created to show that "political censorship is alive and well".

It added: "Junior McDaid House are glad to say Mr Frosty has done his job. Our window display will now reflect the ongoing maltreatment of Irish republican political prisoners."

The premises on Chamberlain Street are named after IRA member James 'Junior' McDaid, who was shot dead by the British Army in 1972.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell had condemned the image of a snowman armed with an RPG as "a highly offensive display" which would be condemned "by all right-thinking people".

He said: "Most people look on Christmas as a family time and republicans are equating it with terrorism.

"An image of a snowman with a rocket launcher to mark the season of peace and goodwill borders on the obscene.

"Terrorism has already caused enough heartache in Northern Ireland without these people compounding the hurt."

The East Londonderry MP said the painting had been "considered as propaganda by those behind it and their supporters" but had been "seen in a poor light by everyone else".

DUP councillor Drew Thompson said the painting had sent out "a message to everyone, not just unionists, that there are those within the city intent on causing destruction over the festive period".

He had notified police in Strand Road about the display. Superintendent Gordon McCalmont had said the PSNI recognised "the hurt and offence caused by this window display. We are currently investigating and assessing the matter".

During the conflict, calendars featuring armed and masked IRA men and Christmas cards showing Santa with a sack of armalites and explosives were sold by Sinn Fein.

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