Belfast Telegraph

Manchester attack: IRA victims slam Sinn Fein's 'faux sympathy' as nauseous hypocrisy

Michelle O’Neill signs book of condolence at Belfast City Hall
Michelle O’Neill signs book of condolence at Belfast City Hall

By Noel McAdam

IRA victims have hit out at the "faux sympathy" of Sinn Fein for those affected by the Manchester atrocity.

Their attacks came after Belfast Telegraph commentator Eilis O'Hanlon accused the party's Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill of "hypocrisy" after she signed a book of condolence at Belfast City Hall.

Mrs O'Neill unequivocally condemned the Manchester Arena bombing - a move that prompted a wave of criticism, as the IRA bombed the English city twice in the 1990s.

Ann Travers, whose sister Mary was killed in an IRA attack after Sunday Mass in a Belfast church, described Sinn Fein as: "Hypocrites and faux sympathy the lot of them."

One republican politician asked by a reporter to condemn the IRA bombings was told to ask about it "next week".

But Ms Travers said that "for them to tell journalists to concentrate on Manchester and ask them next week is disingenuous and disgusting".

Ms O'Hanlon wrote in this newspaper yesterday that Mrs O'Neill's condemnation of Monday's atrocity came "only weeks after attending yet another commemoration for Provisional IRA members killed on so-called active service".

"Defending that decision, the Co Tyrone woman described those who died at Loughgall as 'Irish patriots'," Ms O'Hanlon wrote.

"The terrorists that Michelle O'Neill proudly celebrates murdered children too, and far more than were killed in Manchester. "The 'patriots' whose memory she venerates indiscriminately slaughtered people quietly going about their business in public places.

"Just because the men she celebrates did it for a united Ireland, and the Manchester bomber most likely for a worldwide Islamic caliphate under Sharia law, doesn't make it any more acceptable."

Saffie Roussos (8) and Georgina Callander (18) who died in the Manchester Arena terror attack
Saffie Roussos (8) and Georgina Callander (18) who died in the Manchester Arena terror attack
People attend a multi-faith vigil in St Ann's Square, Manchester, to remember the victims of the Manchester terror attack.
Muriel Billington, 85 and her daughters (names not given) during a vigil at St Ann's Square in Manchester, after a suicide bomber killed 22 people leaving a pop concert at the Manchester Arena on Monday night.
Belfast City Hall illuminated in the colours of Union flag after the Manchester concert bomb attack. Pic: David Young/PA Wire
A woman looks at flowers in St. Ann's Square, close to the Manchester Arena where a suicide bomber killed 22 people leaving a pop concert at the venue on Monday night.
A silent vigil took place in Belfast city centre in memory of the victims of the bomb attack in Manchester. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 23-05-2017: A silent vigil took place in Belfast city centre tonight in memory of the victims of last night's bomb attack in Manchester. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Pacemaker Press Belfast 23-05-2017: A silent vigil took place in Belfast city centre tonight in memory of the victims of last night's bomb attack in Manchester. Picture By: Arthur Allison.
Some of the people who gathered at the War memorial in Derry to express their solidarity with people of Manchester. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.05.17
Some of the people who gathered at the War memorial in Derry to express their solidarity with people of Manchester. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.05.17
Some of the people who gathered at the War memorial in Derry to express their solidarity with people of Manchester. Picture Martin McKeown. Inpresspics.com. 23.05.17
People gather for a vigil outside Belfast City Hall, after a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the Manchester concert bomb attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Michael McHugh/PA Wire
People gather for a vigil outside Belfast City Hall, after a 23-year-old man was arrested in connection with the Manchester concert bomb attack. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. The attack killed 22 people, including children, and injured dozens more in the worst terrorist incident to hit Britain since the July 7 atrocities. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Michael McHugh/PA Wire
People gather for a vigil in Albert Square outside Manchester Town Hall in Manchester after attack at concert. Photo credit should read: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
Members of the public gather to attend a candlelit vigil, to honour the victims of Monday evening's terror attack, at Albert Square on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
People from Manchester Sikh Community carry "I love MCR" banners as they arrive to attend a vigil in Albert Square in Manchester, northwest England on May 23, 2017, in solidarity with those killed an injured in the May 22 terror attack at the Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena. Twenty two people have been killed and dozens injured in Britain's deadliest terror attack in over a decade after a suspected suicide bomber targeted fans leaving a concert of US singer Ariana Grande in Manchester. British police on Tuesday named the suspected attacker behind the Manchester concert bombing as Salman Abedi, but declined to give any further details. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
A couple embrace under a billboard in Manchester city centre, Tuesday May 23, 2017, the day after the suicide attack at an Ariana Grande concert that left 22 people dead as it ended on Monday night. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
BERLIN, GERMANY - MAY 23: Flowers lay in shape of a heart in front of British Embassy on May 23, 2017 in Berlin, Germany. An explosion occurred at Manchester Arena as concert goers were leaving the venue after Ariana Grande had performed. Greater Manchester Police are treating the explosion as a terrorist attack and have confirmed 22 fatalities and 59 injured. (Photo by Steffi Loos/Getty Images)
Flowers are left in St Ann's Square, Manchester, the day after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, as an explosion tore through fans leaving a pop concert in Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire
Retail staff hug each other after being evacuated from the Arndale Centre shopping mall in Manchester, northwest England on May 23
Saffie Rose Roussos, (8) was killed in the attack. Collect/PA Wire
First victim to be named - Georgina Callander. She is pictured with Ariana Grande in 2015. Pic: Instagram Georgina.Bethany
Tributes left outside St Ann's Church in Manchester, the morning after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, as an explosion tore through fans leaving a pop concert, at Manchester Arena.
Tributes left outside St Ann's Church in Manchester, the morning after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, as an explosion tore through fans leaving a pop concert, at Manchester Arena.
Police evacuated the Arndale Centre on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England.
A girl wearing a t-shirt of US singer Ariana Grande carrying balloons from the Ariana Grande concert
MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Armed police patrol the Arndale Shopping Centre after the terrorist attack, May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England. An explosion occurred at Manchester Arena as concert goers were leaving the venue after Ariana Grande had performed. Greater Manchester Police are treating the explosion as a terrorist attack and have confirmed 22 fatalities and 59 injured. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
People look out of the windows of a building opposite the Arndale Centre as the shopping mall is evacuated in Manchester, northwest England on May 23, 2017. Twenty two people have been killed and dozens injured in Britain's deadliest terror attack in over a decade after a suspected suicide bomber targeted fans leaving a concert of US singer Ariana Grande in Manchester. / AFP PHOTO / Ben STANSALLBEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney stands alongside team-mates for a minute silence in memory of the victims of the Manchester terror attack during the final training session at the AON Training Complex in Carrington, ahead of the Europa League Final against Ajax.
Prime Minister Theresa May addresses the media in Downing Street, London, after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, as an explosion tore through fans leaving a pop concert in Manchester.
A woman wearing a T-shirt of US singer Ariana Grande near the Manchester Arena in Manchester
Ariana Grande concert attendees leave the Park Inn Hotel where they were given refuge after last nights explosion at Manchester Arena on May 23, 2017 in Manchester, England.
Armed police close to the Manchester Arena, the morning after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, as an explosion tore through fans leaving a pop concert in Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Screen grabbed image taken from the Twitter feed of Ariana Grande after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, as an explosion tore through fans leaving her pop concert in Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. Some 59 people were also injured in the blast when the attacker detonated an improvised explosive device at the Manchester Arena. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Ariana Grande/Twitter/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Mother Amy Trippitt (right) and her daughter Grace, who attended the concert at Manchester Arena last night, leave the Park Inn hotel in the city the morning after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, as an explosion tore through fans leaving the pop concert. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Mother Amy Trippitt and her daughter Grace, who attended the concert at Manchester Arena last night, leave the Park Inn hotel in the city the morning after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, as an explosion tore through fans leaving the pop concert. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Police close to the Manchester Arena the morning after a terrorist attack at the end of a concert by US star Ariana Grande left 22 dead. PA
Greater Manchester Police chief constable Ian Hopkins speaks to the media in Manchester where he said that the death toll from the Manchester bomb attack has risen to 22 with 59 injured. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Police forensic investigators walk along a bridge linking Victoria Station with the Manchester Arena where a suspected terrorist attack at the end of a concert by US star Ariana Grande left 19 dead. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire
Fan leaves the Park Inn hotel in central Manchester, England, Tuesday, May 23, 2017. Over a dozen people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena late Monday evening. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE Picture taken with permission from the twitter feed of @Zach_bruce of people running through Manchester Victoria station after an explosion at Manchester Arena. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: @Zach_bruce/PA Wire NOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder.
Emergency services at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Emergency services at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig. [Photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire]
FILE - In this Aug. 28, 2016 file photo, Ariana Grande arrives at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York. Police say there are "a number of fatalities" after reports of an explosion at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena in northern England on Monday, May 22, 2017.. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File)
A fan is comforted as she leaves the Park Inn hotel in central Manchester, England Tuesday May 23 2017. Over a dozen people were killed in an explosion following a Ariana Grande concert at the Manchester Arena late Monday evening. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
A fan leaves the Park Inn hotel in central Manchester, Britain, Tuesday, May 23 2017. An apparent suicide bomber set off an improvised explosive device that killed over a dozen people at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on Monday, Manchester police said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Fans leave the Park Inn hotel in central Manchester, England Tuesday May 23 2017. An apparent suicide bomber set off an improvised explosive device that killed over a dozen people at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on Monday, Manchester police said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Armed police (left) at Manchester Arena after reports of an explosion at the venue during an Ariana Grande gig. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Monday May 22, 2017. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Flowers left close to the Manchester Arena, the morning after a suicide bomber killed 22 people, including children, as an explosion tore through fans leaving a pop concert in Manchester. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday May 23, 2017. See PA story POLICE Explosion. Photo credit should read: Danny Lawson/PA Wire

Sinn Fein yesterday failed to answer repeated Belfast Telegraph requests for a response article from Mrs O'Neill.

Austin Stack, who has fought a public campaign to find the IRA gunmen who shot his father Brian Stack in 1983, vented his criticism on Facebook.

"The cynical hypocrisy of the Provo movement is unbelievable and needs to be challenged in every level by the media," he said.

"These people found it acceptable to bomb Manchester in 1996 and never condemned that bombing.

"Let's not forget the Provos murdered young people in the Birmingham and Warrington bombs. A terrorist bomb is a terrorist bomb no matter who plants it or what cause they plant it for."

TUV leader Jim Allister also slammed what he called the "hollow words" of Sinn Fein, which he said had left victims with a "sense of nausea."

He added: "Eilis O'Hanlon's article was a welcome corrective to the coverage of Sinn Fein representatives' comments on the most recent Manchester bombing being taken at face value.

"Those who have suffered at the hands of the IRA have rightly felt a sense of nausea having to listen to hollow words from Sinn Fein knowing that they justified, and in some cases engaged in, planting bombs which caused similar damage, injuries and deaths."

The article provoked a widespread reaction and a strong response on BBC Radio Ulster's Nolan Show.

One Sinn Fein source who did not want to be named described it as "a diatribe".

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