Sinn Fein mayor turns down parade invite
Mayor refuses Milk Cup invite in bid to sidestep controversy
The controversial Sinn Fein mayor of Limavady has declined an invitation to take part in a parade that passes the spot where a bomb he planted exploded, killing six people.
Sean McGlinchey is a former IRA prisoner who served 18 years in jail for his involvement in a 1973 bomb atrocity in Coleraine.
He has since apologised for his involvement in the attack, and while some relatives of victims have publicly forgiven him, others have called for him to step down
Despite his apology, his appointment as mayor sparked anger among unionist politicians, one of whom has disrupted two council meetings as part of a protest against him.
The DUP's Gregory Campbell has also spoken out against Mr McGlinchey.
Later this month a parade to mark the official opening of the world-famous Milk Cup youth soccer tournament will pass by the spot on Railway Road where the bomb went off.
As mayor of Limavady, Mr Glinchey automatically received an invitation to take part in the parade.
Yesterday he confirmed he will not be attending to try and defuse any controversy.
Deputy mayor Orla Beattie will represent the council in his place.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Mr McGlinchey said he did not want to detract from the positive message of the Milk Cup with the political storm his joining the parade would have generated.
"I don't think it would do the Milk Cup any good or the victims any good, so that's the main reason (I'm not going)," he said.
"I'm not playing politics with any other parties.
"I think it's important that the Milk Cup is kept separate from these issues.
"People are coming over from different countries and they don't want to be involved in these issues.
"So my decision was to let the Milk Cup keep working away for tourism rather than make an issue of it."
He said the international football competition was important as a "sporting and major tourism event" which he and Limavady Borough Council are happy to support.
Mr McGlinchey said he wanted the tournament to speak for itself and not become embroiled in a political furore.
Teams from around the world descend on the north west every year to take part in the youth soccer competition.
In the past the tournament has seen future footballing stars like David Beckham, Wayne Rooney and Joe Cole, as well as Northern Ireland's Kyle Lafferty, show off their skills on the pitch.