Belfast Telegraph

Hunger strike parade in Derrylin an affront to IRA's victims: Elliott

By Chris Kilpatrick

The staging of a huge parade to commemorate republican hunger strikers is like walking over the graves of IRA victims in the area, a senior politician has claimed.

More than 10,000 people are set to take part in the contentious event to mark the anniversaries of the deaths of 10 republican hunger strikers, including Bobby Sands.

Sinn Fein, who organised this Sunday’s march in Derrylin, have been accused of lacking leadership and pandering to dissident republicans.

Ulster Unionist MLA and justice spokesman Tom Elliott was scathing of the call for ‘mass mobilisation’ by Sinn Fein Assembly Member Pat Sheehan.

“At a time when unionists are trying to calm tensions around parading, Sinn Fein seems intent on escalating them by calling people out on to the streets,” Mr Elliott said.

“This demonstrates the lack of respect from Sinn Fein for innocent victims.

“They are totally lacking in any compassion for the families of those who were murdered by the IRA, especially the family of Jimmy Graham who was shot dead at the primary school in the village.

“Such vulgar triumphalism is like walking over the graves of the dead.”

Mr Elliott said he raised concerns he had about this weekend’s event with Secretary of State Theresa Villiers.

In response to Mr Elliott’s comments, Sinn Fein MP Michelle Gildernew said unionist politicians should focus their attentions on resolving outstanding issues around contentious parades.

The Fermanagh and South Tyrone representative added: “Fermanagh has a historic connection to the hunger strike as Bobby Sands was elected MP here in April 1981 so it is fitting that it should host this commemoration.

“The sensitivities of the unionist community were taken into account when the venue of this commemoration was decided.

“Rather than hold it in the county town of Enniskillen, the decision was taken to hold it in the predominately nationalist village of Derrylin. The local community was consulted and a formula was agreed to minimise disruption.

“The parade will be respectful with no on street drinking, sectarian banners or flag burning and will take place in a village with the approval of the local residents.” The Belfast Telegraph earlier this month revealed unionist fury that more than 10,000 republicans are expected to attend this weekend’s parade.

Dianne Woods — a niece of UDR soldier Thomas Bullock (53), who was gunned down along with his wife Emily (50) in 1972 — said the parade was “stomach-churning”.

She said the prospect of a march honouring the 10 dead hunger strikers passing so close to the scene of the brutal double-slaying made her “feel sick”.

Belfast Telegraph


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