Belfast Telegraph

Martina Anderson's east Belfast visit branded "provocative and sectarian"

Martina Anderson in the audience at Saturday's event at Tullycarnet Library
Martina Anderson in the audience at Saturday's event at Tullycarnet Library

A visit by Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson to an event in a loyalist estate in east Belfast has been branded a "provocative and sectarian stunt".

The convicted IRA bomber attended an arts event on Saturday organised by artist Lise McGreevy in Tullycarnet Library showcasing Ulster Scots and Irish heritage.

Sinn Fein posted a video of Ms Anderson's visit on Youtube, where the MEP is heard quoting hunger striker Bobby Sands.

“I was thinking very much about what Bobby Sands had said that the men of art had lost their heart but when I looked at what Lise McGreevy has done with her exhibition. I was delighted, very proud to be there representing Sinn Fein,” she said.

Last week, Ms Anderson provoked controversy for a speech at a rally in which she told the British Government that its "days in Ireland are numbered" and used the slogan "Tiocfaidh ar la".

PUP councillor John Kyle said Ms Anderson's visit to Tullycarnet Library was "childish" and "highly provocative".

"She arrived with a camera crew in tow and entered a building in the heart of the loyalist community quoting Bobby Sands," he told the News Letter.

“Having a few days previously given a highly publicised speech at a republican event that was extremely disrespectful and offensive to unionists, she was going into a community which she knew would have been deeply offended by her speech.”

“Sinn Fein speak about equality, respect and reconciliation and yet at the same time these sorts of stunts are highly sectarian, highly provocative and show a complete lack of respect for the community to which she went. That hypocrisy needs to be called out.

“Both communities need to move beyond this sort of behaviour. It’s not just the republicans who are doing it. Both communities need to move beyond this deliberatively sectarian, provocative behaviour.

“This is childish behaviour, we need to move beyond this.”

A Sinn Fein spokesperson said Ms Anderson had been invited to the event.

In the video of Ms Anderson's visit, she urged members of the public to look at Lise McGreevy's work.

"She is certainly involved with peace and reconciliation and unlike the men of art who had no heart she has got a heart and she is bringing people together through music, song, dance and particularly through the fantastic artwork that she has on display,” she said.

Eastside Arts, who hosted the event, said it was open for anyone to attend.

“EastSide Arts were not party to the attendee list and were not aware of who was attending the event. However, like all of our events, they are open to everyone, regardless of their political views," a spokesperson said.

"We are also aware that as the event was not widely publicised by EastSide Arts, local residents were unaware of the event and did not have the opportunity to attend. This was an oversight on our part for which we apologise.”

A Sinn Fein spokesperson said: “Martina Anderson was invited to an event as part of the Eastside Arts Festival promoting peace and reconciliation and was happy to attend and take part.

"Martina Anderson was democratically elected to the European Parliament to represent everyone in the north and regularly engages with people from all communities and backgrounds.”

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