Belfast Telegraph

Funeral row MLA leaves his justice post at Stormont

An SDLP MLA who took part in a republican funeral with paramilitary trappings has been replaced on Stormont’s justice committee.

Ex-Derry mayor Colum Eastwood carried the flag-draped coffin of ex-paramilitary Seamus Coyle while flanked by a paramilitary colour party.

A masked Real IRA man later fired up to a dozen shots from an automatic rifle over the INLA man's coffin in the Rosemount Gardens area of Londonderry.

The Foyle MLA stressed he was not present when this happened.

Mr Coyle had been a member of the Official IRA and INLA, but is understood to have backed the peace process for some time.

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan also attended. A party spokesman said both attended in a personal capacity. On Twitter, Mr Eastwood responded: “Sad now that in NI politics you have to judge your friend’s background before you are allowed to attend their funeral #friendshipmeansnothing.”

The SDLP said the replacement of Mr Eastwood with Patsy McGlone had already been planned.

On Twitter last night, Mr Eastwood said: “Just for clarity, the reshuffle was announced last week before the story about the funeral broke on Friday,” he added.

Mr Eastwood said he attended Tuesday’s funeral “to mark the passing of a friend and to show support and compassion for his extended family”.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph