Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill's attendance at IRA commemoration after Time for Truth rally angers Foster

Michelle O'Neill, flanked by Paul Maskey and Francie Molloy, at the Time for Truth March at Divis Street. Pic Press Eye Declan Roughan
Michelle O'Neill, flanked by Paul Maskey and Francie Molloy, at the Time for Truth March at Divis Street. Pic Press Eye Declan Roughan
Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill joined the Time for Truth March at Divis Street. Pic Press Eye - Declan Roughan
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

DUP leader Arlene Foster hit out at Michelle O'Neill for attending a commemoration service for an IRA man just after the Sinn Fein Northern Ireland leader attended the Time for Truth rally in Belfast.

She said those "recasting the IRA's terrorism as a campaign for 'equality and justice' were blind to the truth and to the pain of their victims".

The Sinn Fein MLA attended a commemoration for Peadar McElvanna in Keady on Sunday.

Sinn Fein said McElvanna was killed while on "IRA active service" in Lagan, just outside Keady town on June 9, 1979.

The 24-year-old was shot during a gun battle between the IRA and British Army which erupted after a botched ambush attempt on the soldiers' unit.

The SAS soldier Andy McNab was awarded a military medal for his actions during the gun battle.

Michelle O'Neill told those gathered for the commemoration that Irish unity was now a "mainstream debate in society" and there was an opportunity to end partition and "build a new united Ireland for everyone".

"This is what Peadar McElvanna was committed to achieving," she told those gathered.

Hundreds were reported to have attended Sunday's service.

Pacemaker Press 09/06/19
Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall.
Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Press Eye - Time for Truth March - Belfast - 9th June 2019 Photograph by Declan Roughan Time for Truth March.
Press Eye - Time for Truth March - Belfast - 9th June 2019 Photograph by Declan Roughan Time for Truth March.
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Press Eye - Time for Truth March - Belfast - 9th June 2019 Photograph by Declan Roughan Time for Truth March.
Pacemaker Press 09/06/19 Hundreds take part in a Time for Truth March in Belfast on Sunday. Crowds marched from McGurk's Bar Memorial, Divis Tower, Cromac Square and met at Belfast City Hall. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Press Eye - Time for Truth March - Belfast - 9th June 2019 Photograph by Declan Roughan SDLP's Nicola Mallon attends the Time for Truth March.
Press Eye - Time for Truth March - Belfast - 9th June 2019 Photograph by Declan Roughan Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O'Neill joined today's Time for Truth March at Divis Street.
Press Eye - Time for Truth March - Belfast - 9th June 2019 Photograph by Declan Roughan Sinn Féin Leas Uachtarán Michelle O'Neill joined today's Time for Truth March at Divis Street.
Press Eye - Time for Truth March - Belfast - 9th June 2019 Photograph by Declan Roughan Bloody Sunday relative John Kelly speaks at the Time for Truth March.
Press Eye - Time for Truth March - Belfast - 9th June 2019 Photograph by Declan Roughan Time for Truth March.
Press Eye - Time for Truth March - Belfast - 9th June 2019 Photograph by Declan Roughan Time for Truth March.

"Delighted to join with the family and friends of Vol Peadar McElvanna on his 40th anniversary," Michelle O'Neill added.

"A very dignified and fitting commemoration. Well done everyone."

Earlier Ms O'Neill had joined with families of those killed in the Troubles for the Time for Truth rally in Belfast.

Arlene Foster tweeted: "The #TimeforTruth hashtag was dropped before eulogising someone who went out with the sole aim of causing death and destruction.

"Anyone recasting the IRA's terrorism as a campaign for 'equality and justice' is blind to the truth and to the pain of their victims."

Sinn Fein defended Ms O'Neill's presence at the event saying republicans "have the same right as any other section of the community to remember our loved ones".

"Our pain is no less and no more than anyone else's and the loss of the republican community and the memory of our dead should not be disrespected," the party said.

Several thousand people, including campaign groups, took the streets of Belfast city centre in a call for action on dealing with the legacy of the past at the Time for Truth rally.

It was the second march of its kind which saw victims of the Troubles in three separate groups walk to Belfast City Hall carrying black flags, banners and pictures of their loved ones.

Families of those killed in the Loughinisland massacre, Ballymurphy massacre, Bloody Sunday and the Sean Graham bookmakers shop - as well as several other fatal incidents - took part in the rally.

Michelle O'Neill claimed the families had been denied access to justice.

"They have come together to say that it's time for truth. What they are asking for is very simple," she said.

"It is not good enough, it is not tolerable that these families have been denied access to justice."

Some unionists said there was no representation for those killed by republicans at the event, accusing Sinn Fein of using it to promote their own agenda and wanting "one-sided" truth and justice.

"Victims feel excluded from demonstrations like this because violence is still excused by Sinn Fein, who are the political wing of those who murdered their loved ones," said the MLA Doug Beattie.

"I cannot stand and allow Sinn Fein to call for truth and justice while denying it to multiple victims."

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