Belfast Telegraph

O'Neill's tributes to IRA dead staggering, says UUP man

By Suzanne Breen

Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie has said Michelle O'Neill will never be able to successfully reach out to his community while she continues to attend IRA commemorations.

He was speaking after the Sinn Fein vice-president told the Belfast Telegraph she did not foresee a day when she wouldn't attend such events.

"We all have a right to remember our dead," she said.

The Upper Bann MLA said he didn't disagree with Ms O'Neill on that.

He added: "The reality is that these commemorations are not just about remembering the dead, they are about glorifying what they did and romanticising those deeds.

"It is staggering that Michelle O'Neill is still standing over the actions of people who went out to murder men, women and children.

"If a politician from any other political party went to a commemoration for UDA or UVF terrorists at which those terrorists were praised for killing Catholics, Michelle O'Neill would be outraged and rightly so. Sinn Fein just doesn't seem to see what the rest of us are seeing."

Mr Beattie said that while Sinn Fein politicians continued to attend "commemorations which glorify terrorism", he could never trust them.

"Sinn Fein engages in gesture politics. Michelle O'Neill is meeting Prince Charles, but nothing will change so long as Sinn Fein keeps glorifying those who butchered the people of this country," he said.

TUV leader Jim Allister said: "Comments by the Sinn Fein leader in Northern Ireland in the Belfast Telegraph underscore the reality that the republican movement has not and will not change.

"O'Neill puts dead IRA men in the same category as the innocents they went out to slaughter when she says, 'We all have a right to remember our dead'.

"There will be countless relatives of IRA victims who will find her claim that she 'will never fail to stand beside a mother who has lost her child in the conflict' galling.

"While republicans demand that every scrap of records relating to the deaths of terrorists at the hands of the state is released, they continue to deny any truth or justice to those who lost their lives at the hands of the wicked IRA."

Meanwhile, the DUP has challenged Ms O'Neill's claim that its confidence-and-supply deal with the Tories is to blame for the absence of devolution.

South Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford said: "Michelle O'Neill is attempting to re-write history. The collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive occurred five months before the general election. Sinn Fein alone made the decision to bring down the Stormont Executive in January 2017.

"Sinn Fein has spurned every overture and opportunity presented to get back into government to serve all the people of Northern Ireland.

"In the meantime, the DUP has used our position of influence in London to secure an addition billion pounds for public services which can benefit everyone.

"Whether £150m for broadband in rural areas, £50m for mental health services, £200m for roads or a cash injection to help keep GP practices and Daisy Hill Hospital open, the DUP has delivered."

Belfast Telegraph

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