Belfast Telegraph

Ex-members of IRA can never be held up as role models, insists Frazer

By Rebecca Black

The row over a Londonderry school hailing convicted IRA bomber turned Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson as a role model for pupils continues to rumble on.

The dispute began after a post appeared on the Twitter feed of St Cecilia's College in Derry naming Ms Anderson as "past pupil of the day" and quoting the school's motto: Aspire, Endeavour, Achieve.

Protestant victims' campaigner William Frazer said until the IRA apologised for its terrorist campaign, its members should not be held up for admiration.

"The republican movement has yet to apologise or accept that there was no justification or excuse for the use of violence to further their political aims," he said.

"Sinn Fein need to send a clear message that violence was wrong; it is entirely legitimate to seek to change the political position of Northern Ireland, however all morality was lost when they adopted the armalite and ballot box approach.

"Martina Anderson is no role model, she is a convicted terrorist who has never apologised for her actions or admitted that the actions of the IRA were morally corrupt."

Alliance leader Naomi Long said Ms Anderson had made a positive contribution, but it did not excuse her IRA activism.

"We do have to respect what Martina Anderson has achieved in terms of her political career, I wouldn't dismiss it, she has a huge vote and huge mandate, she has made a positive contribution to Northern Ireland, but that does not eclipse or excuse the conduct that she was involved in during the Troubles, and part of the issue with moving on is that we have never in Northern Ireland, as they did in South Africa, had any kind of reconciliation process where people can acknowledge what they did caused pain, and apologise and show remorse," she told BBC TV's Top Table programme.

Ms Anderson is one of Northern Ireland's three MEPs after topping the poll in 2014 with 159,813 first-preference votes.

Yesterday fellow Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy lambasted those criticising the school as "disgraceful".

He said: "We are in a pressurised political situation at the moment especially in the north. But this shouldn't allow the public discourse to return to dehumanising individuals or communities.

"To suggest, as some unionist politicians have done, that her successes in politics, which include holding ministerial office in an Executive with the DUP, cannot or should not be celebrated by the school she attended, runs contrary to the spirit of the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process."

St Cecilia's College has refused to comment.

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