Gerry Adams' eulogy for former Provo full of 'hatred and madness', says UUP MLA
Gerry Adams' graveside oration praising IRA chief Kevin McKenna demonstrates the "madness and malevolent hatred" that fuels militant republicans, an Ulster Unionist MLA has said.
Kevin McKenna, who died on Tuesday, was the leader of the Provisional IRA from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s.
Speaking at his funeral, Mr Adams told mourners that the IRA was "right" to fight against British rule in Ireland.
"I think the IRA was right, not in everything that it did, but it was right to fight when faced with the armed aggression of British rule," he said.
The Louth TD described the IRA leader as "a decent man doing his best in very difficult times".
At the funeral, men and women dressed in black trousers, white shirts and black ties formed a guard of honour as his coffin entered the church.
The coffin was draped with a tricolour and had a black beret and black leather gloves sitting on it.
Yesterday Doug Beattie, a former soldier, hit out at Mr Adams' remarks.
"Adams' comments at the funeral of mass murderer Kevin McKenna highlighted perfectly the madness and malevolent hatred that drives physical force republicanism," he said.
"Sinn Fein at Stormont and in the Dail will talk about partnership, rights and respect, and try to tell us that unionists have nothing to fear in any future united Ireland; then in the next breath they gather to venerate one of the most brutal mass murderers Western Europe has seen since 1945."
Mr Adams was reported to have also said at the funeral: "All children need iconic figures that they can depend upon. Kevin McKenna was very dependable.
"And tell them before they were born that he fought for them and for their future so they will grow old in a free and united Ireland.
"Tell them that granda was in the 'Ra. Tell them he was a rebel. Tell them he was a freedom fighter."
Mr Beattie said McKenna brought shame on Irish republicanism.
"That may well be what Gerry Adams comforts himself with. The rest of the world and anyone with a grasp on reality knows differently," he said.
"He also needs to tell them that Kevin McKenna and the violence he promoted brought nothing but shame on Irish republicanism, and destroyed the prospects of reconciliation, let alone a united Ireland."
Describing the deceased as a "terrorist and a mass murderer", Mr Beattie added: "He justified the murder of babies and pensioners - Protestant and Catholic alike - in the pursuit of a goal that his own actions ensured he would never live to see."
Sinn Fein was approached for a response to Mr Beattie's criticism of the Louth TD, but had not provided one by the time of going to press last night.