Belfast Telegraph

MEP Dodds writes to European Parliament president over Anderson Maze escape post

Diane Dodds of the DUP
Diane Dodds of the DUP
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

A DUP MEP has written to the president of the European Parliament about a social media post by Martina Anderson celebrating the Maze Prison escape.

Diane Dodds sent the letter to David Sassoli asking him to adjudicate on the Sinn Fein MEP's comments.

Mrs Dodds accused Ms Anderson of glorifying the Maze escape, in which a prison officer died, by sharing a tweet by fellow Sinn Fein politician Gerry Kelly which appeared to joke about the 1983 breakout.

In her letter to Mr Sassoli, Mrs Dodds says politicians should not be making such remarks on public platforms.

Thirty-eight IRA inmates escaped from the Maze in September 1983.

Prison officer James Ferris died of a heart attack after being stabbed while attempting to stop the break-out. Another officer, John Adams, was shot in the head, but survived.

On Wednesday Mr Kelly posted a tweet mentioning the Maze escape in an apparent reference to the political difficulties facing Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson
Sinn Fein's Martina Anderson

He wrote: "36 years ago today I was in H Block 7, getting ready to escape from the 'most secure prison in Europe' with 37 other political prisoners. We succeeded. Boris, I'm prepared to give you some advice."

In response to the tweet, Ms Anderson wrote that she remembered "that day with pride" and shared an image with the text "so proud of you".

Speaking on the BBC's Talkback radio show yesterday, Ms Dodds said she was shocked by the post.

"This kind of glorification of violence is wrong. It is inappropriate and we should leave it in the past," she said.

She has how written to Mr Sassoli, the European Parliament president.

Her letter says: "This glorification and pride in an event that resulted in the death of an innocent man and one shot in the head cannot be becoming of a member of the European Parliament and must not go unchecked.

"As MEPs we should all adhere to and uphold the rule of law. The blatant support for such violent actions, and in turn the subsequent injuries and death caused, is not something the youth of today should see a politician supporting on a public platform."

Urging Mr Sassoli to take her concerns into account, she adds: "In the context of Northern Ireland and the current political climate, an MEP cannot be permitted to glorify terrorism and support violence and death in this way."

Ms Anderson, speaking on Radio Ulster's Talkback yesterday, said the Maze Prison escape was a "remarkable day" for republicans.

"Diane does not ask for any apology for the 50 years of unionist misrule, does not ask for any acknowledgement of what happened to our people, how people were treated during those awful times and the causes of the conflict," she said.

"The way to deal with all of this is to implement the Stormont House Agreement and set up the legacy institutions that were agreed by all the political parties.

"The British Government and the Irish Government had been involved in making sure that that would happen.

"The British Government has blocked it. The DUP is supporting them, blocking legacy institutions from being established.

"We should respect the fact that we all have different experiences and we should try to build a better future based on the differences we have and respecting those."

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