Belfast Telegraph

DUP attack Michelle O'Neill's speech at memorial for IRA men killed by SAS at Loughgall - an 'insult to victims'

Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987.
Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987.
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Family members of those killed, along with bands and a Republican colour party parade from Atlone to Cappagh before the commemoration. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Alan Lewis - PhotopressBelfast.co.uk 30-4-2017 Republican memorial ffeaturing the names of some of the eight man IRA gang killed in an SAS ambush at Loughall police station in County Armagh on 8th May 1987. The eight died in a hail of bullets after they had exploded a bomb in a mechanical digger which they had driven through the gates of the heavily fortified police base. A ninth man was shot dead in a vehicle that had been travelling behind the IRA gang.
Photographs of the eight IRA members and bystander Anthony Hughes who were killed in an SAS ambush in Loughgall, Co Armagh, are held by people taking part in a march to Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 30, 2017. The IRA members killed were Jim Lynagh, 32; Padraig McKearney, 32; Gerard O'Callaghan, 29; Tony Gormley, 25; Eugene Kelly, 25; Patrick Kelly, 32; Seamus Donnelly, 19; and Declan Arthurs, 21. See PA story ULSTER Loughgall. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Marchers commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting dead of eight IRA members and bystander Anthony Hughes in an SAS ambush in Loughgall, Co Armagh, make their way towards Cappagh, Co Tyrone, for a memorial event. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 30, 2017. The IRA members killed were Jim Lynagh, 32; Padraig McKearney, 32; Gerard O'Callaghan, 29; Tony Gormley, 25; Eugene Kelly, 25; Patrick Kelly, 32; Seamus Donnelly, 19; and Declan Arthurs, 21. See PA story ULSTER Loughgall. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
PACEMAKER BELFAST MAY 1987 JH/MW MONTAGE PIC OF THE 8 IRA MEN WHO WERE SHOT DEAD BY THE SAS AS THEY TRIED TO BLOW UP LOUGHGALL RUC STATION. FROM TOP LEFT-PATRICK McKEARNEY, TONY GORMLEY,JIM LYNAGH, PADDY KELLY. FROM BOTTOM LEFT-DECLAN ARTHURS, GERARD O'CALLAGHAN, SEAMUS DONNELLY AND EUGENE KELLY. 388/87/BW
Sinn Fein leader for Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill takes part in a march to Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting dead of eight IRA members and bystander Anthony Hughes in an SAS ambush in Loughgall, Co Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 30, 2017. The IRA members killed were Jim Lynagh, 32; Padraig McKearney, 32; Gerard O'Callaghan, 29; Tony Gormley, 25; Eugene Kelly, 25; Patrick Kelly, 32; Seamus Donnelly, 19; and Declan Arthurs, 21. See PA story ULSTER Loughgall. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Sinn Fein leader for Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill addresses a memorial event in Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting dead of eight IRA members and bystander Anthony Hughes in an SAS ambush in Loughgall, Co Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 30, 2017. The IRA members killed were Jim Lynagh, 32; Padraig McKearney, 32; Gerard O'Callaghan, 29; Tony Gormley, 25; Eugene Kelly, 25; Patrick Kelly, 32; Seamus Donnelly, 19; and Declan Arthurs, 21. See PA story ULSTER Loughgall. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Photographs of the eight IRA members and bystander Anthony Hughes who were killed in an SAS ambush in Loughgall, Co Armagh, are held by people taking part in a march to Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 30, 2017. The IRA members killed were Jim Lynagh, 32; Padraig McKearney, 32; Gerard O'Callaghan, 29; Tony Gormley, 25; Eugene Kelly, 25; Patrick Kelly, 32; Seamus Donnelly, 19; and Declan Arthurs, 21. See PA story ULSTER Loughgall. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
A flag-bearer carries the Irish tricolour during a march to Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting dead of eight IRA members and bystander Anthony Hughes in an SAS ambush in Loughgall, Co Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 30, 2017. The IRA members killed were Jim Lynagh, 32; Padraig McKearney, 32; Gerard O'Callaghan, 29; Tony Gormley, 25; Eugene Kelly, 25; Patrick Kelly, 32; Seamus Donnelly, 19; and Declan Arthurs, 21. See PA story ULSTER Loughgall. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
PACEMAKER BELFAST THE BULLET RIDDLED VAN IN WHICH 8 IRA MEN WERE KILLED BY THE SAS AT LOUGHGALL RUC STATION IN 1987
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Family members of those killed, along with bands and a Republican colour party parade from Atlone to Cappagh before the commemoration. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Family members of those killed, along with bands and a Republican colour party parade from Atlone to Cappagh before the commemoration. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Family members of those killed, along with bands and a Republican colour party parade from Atlone to Cappagh before the commemoration. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Family members of those killed, along with bands and a Republican colour party parade from Atlone to Cappagh before the commemoration. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Family members of those killed, along with bands and a Republican colour party parade from Atlone to Cappagh before the commemoration. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Family members hold pictures of the eight men who were killed. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Family members of those killed, along with bands and a Republican colour party parade from Atlone to Cappagh before the commemoration. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Family members of those killed, along with bands and a Republican colour party parade from Atlone to Cappagh before the commemoration. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Family members of those killed, along with bands and a Republican colour party parade from Atlone to Cappagh before the commemoration. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Family members of those killed, along with bands and a Republican colour party parade from Atlone to Cappagh before the commemoration. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. A Republican colour party ion front on an IRA memorial in Cappagh. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. A Republican colour party ion front on an IRA memorial in Cappagh. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Family members of those killed, along with bands and a Republican colour party parade from Atlone to Cappagh before the commemoration. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Michelle O'Neill prepares her speech before getting up to speak. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
Press Eye Belfast - Northern Ireland 30th April 2017 Sinn Fein's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill speaks at a commemoration held in Cappagh, Co. Tyrone, for eight members of the IRA who were killed by the SAS as they were about to attack Loughgall RUC station in May 1987. Family members of those killed, along with bands and a Republican colour party parade from Atlone to Cappagh before the commemoration. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye.com
PACEMAKER BELFAST MAY 1987 JH/PF/MW SCENES OF LOUGHGALL RUC STATION WHERE 8 IRA MEN WERE SHOT DEAD BY THE SAS AS THEY TRIED TO BLOW UP THE RUC STATION BY PLACING A BOMB ON A JCB DIGGER. 384/87/BW/C
PACEMAKER BELFAST 08/04/98 General View of the Loughgall ambush in 1987 when 8 IRA men were shot dead by the SAS.
PACEMAKER BELFAST 1988 Aerial view The bullet riddled Hiace van (blue at bottom) in which 8 IRA men were shot dead by the SAS outside Loughgall RUC station in 1988.
Sinn Fein leader for Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill addresses a memorial event in Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting dead of eight IRA members
Sinn Fein leader for Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill addresses a memorial event in Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting dead of eight IRA members

By Staff Reporters

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill has been accused of disrespecting IRA victims after she spoke at an event to commemorate the deaths of eight of the terror group's members killed in Loughgall, Co Armagh, in 1987.

The party's leader in Northern Ireland insisted there was no contradiction in commemorating the IRA dead while also reaching out to unionists. She said republicans "are proud of our freedom struggle".

Read More: I'm proud of freedom struggle, says O'Neill at IRA memorial parade

But last night, DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the decision by Sinn Fein's Stormont chief to defend the IRA was "appalling".

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, the Lagan Valley MP said: "While recognising that people have the right to commemorate the dead and their families, I find her remarks an insult to the innocent victims of IRA violence."

"Her defence of the IRA violence is appalling, and demonstrates a complete lack of respect for the innocent victims of the IRA.

"The families of the thousands of children, women and men murdered in cold blood by the IRA will be deeply hurt by these comments, coming from the person who aspires to be the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland."

Ms O'Neill took part in a republican parade on Sunday to mark 30 years since the SAS ambush of the IRA men.

Large crowds gathered at the Church of the Immaculate Conception in Altmore and paraded to the IRA memorial in the village of Cappagh.

The IRA tried to blow up Loughgall police station in Co Armagh in May 1987. Members of the east Tyrone Brigade loaded a 200lb bomb into a stolen digger which smashed through the gates of the station.

PACEMAKER BELFAST MAY 1987 JH/MW
MONTAGE PIC OF THE 8 IRA MEN WHO WERE SHOT DEAD BY THE SAS AS THEY TRIED TO BLOW UP LOUGHGALL RUC STATION.
FROM TOP LEFT-PATRICK McKEARNEY, TONY GORMLEY,JIM LYNAGH, PADDY KELLY. FROM BOTTOM LEFT-DECLAN ARTHURS, GERARD O'CALLAGHAN, SEAMUS DONNELLY AND EUGENE KELLY.
388/87/BW
PACEMAKER BELFAST MAY 1987 JH/MW MONTAGE PIC OF THE 8 IRA MEN WHO WERE SHOT DEAD BY THE SAS AS THEY TRIED TO BLOW UP LOUGHGALL RUC STATION. FROM TOP LEFT-PATRICK McKEARNEY, TONY GORMLEY,JIM LYNAGH, PADDY KELLY. FROM BOTTOM LEFT-DECLAN ARTHURS, GERARD O'CALLAGHAN, SEAMUS DONNELLY AND EUGENE KELLY. 388/87/BW

The SAS was lying in wait and opened fire, killing all eight members of the IRA unit.

An innocent civilian, Anthony Hughes, was also shot dead.

Family members of the dead men carried their photographs to the memorial.

Speaking to the crowd, Ms O'Neill said she had been criticised by unionists and the media for commemorating the IRA.

However she added: "Let me be clear.

"I am an Irish republican. Make no mistake about it - I will always remember and commemorate our patriot dead - and each of our fallen comrades who gave their lives for Irish freedom."

Sinn Fein leader for Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill addresses a memorial event in Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting dead of eight IRA members
Sinn Fein leader for Northern Ireland Michelle O’Neill addresses a memorial event in Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting dead of eight IRA members

She added: "I see no contradiction whatsoever in commemorating our republican dead while reaching out to our unionist neighbours to build the future - Orange and Green together on the basis of full equality and mutual respect."

Ms O'Neill said everyone has a legitimate right to remember their dead without being demonised.

"We are proud of our freedom struggle.

"We are especially proud of our republican patriot dead and each of our fallen comrades with whom we are gathered to remember, honour and whose lives we celebrate here today," she added.

Previously, DUP leader Arlene Foster had said she was disappointed by Ms O'Neill's decision to attend the event.

Mrs Foster met Irish language students in Northern Ireland in a bid to learn more about the language as part of efforts to restore devolved powersharing.

She said: "It is disappointing that when I am trying to make this a shared place for everybody in Northern Ireland that other leaders are doing things that frankly are wrong and backward-looking."

Belfast Telegraph

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