Outcry grows as Sinn Fein's Mary-Lou McDonald pays tribute to IRA bomber McNulty
Sinn Fein President-elect Mary-Lou McDonald has come in for further criticism after attending a commemoration to IRA bomber Peter McNulty in Castlewellan.
She was joined by South Down MP Chris Hazzard and Newry and Armagh MP Mickey Brady at the commemoration on Friday.
Wreaths were laid and a piper played a lament to mark the 46th anniversary of the death of McNulty, who was killed by a device he had been attempting to plant at Castlewellan RUC station on January 26, 1972.
Local Ulster Unionist councillor Jill Macauley said she was contacted by a number of residents in the area who were concerned about the event.
"I too feel very disappointed at this commemoration event happening in Castlewellan. After such a furore about 'respect' from Sinn Fein leadership, it seems that they have a very short memory or even selective memory as usual service resumes in another opportunity to glorify terrorism locally," she said.
"This man (McNulty) whom they sought to commemorate wanted to cause maximum death and destruction to innocent people in Castlewellan, but it went wrong for him. That was his choice when he set out on his mission that day in 1972."
Speaking in response to the criticism, a Sinn Fein spokesperson said: "Republicans recognise that there was hurt throughout all the community as a result of the conflict and the Good Friday Agreement affirms that everyone has a right to remember their dead in a respectful and dignified manner. There is no hierarchy of victims. Peter McNulty's death was a huge personal loss for his family and the nationalist community in the area. Republicans will continue to honour our patriot dead and show our solidarity with their families, friends and neighbours as we respect the right of all others who suffered as a result of the conflict to remember their loss."
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's northern leader Michelle O'Neill was poised to become Ms McDonald's deputy last night as she was the sole nominee as nominations closed. The position fell vacant earlier this year after Ms McDonald was confirmed as the only person nominated for the role of Sinn Fein President, after Gerry Adams stepped down.