Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein MP Hazzard's move into building named after Provos angers victims’ relatives

By Rebecca Black

There has been anger after Sinn Fein's South Down MP set up his office in a building named after two IRA men.

Victims of the Provos have questioned how Chris Hazzard can serve the entire constituency when his office "glorifies" terrorists.

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald was among the guests at the official opening of the office in Castlewellan at the end of last month.

Now a new sign has been erected for the McNulty-Magorrian Advice Centre, in honour of local IRA men Peter McNulty and Paul Magorrian.

Sammy Heenan, whose father William (51) was murdered in 1985 outside his home just five miles from the town, said he was disgusted.

He queried how an MP can serve everyone in his constituency from an office with a sign bearing the name of terrorists, and challenged Mr Hazzard to condemn all paramilitaries and stop holding "double standards".

Mr Heenan said that recently Mr Hazzard had condemned the UVF's Loughinisland massacre on one page of a local paper, while on another he "was giving a eulogy at a terrorist shrine in Castlewellan".

"What message does that send out to a vulnerable Protestant community in that town?" he asked.

"Sadly, using this office named after two terrorists shows selective condemnation of terrorism. I have challenged Chris Hazzard twice publicly and he has ignored them both. It appears he is not prepared to represent everybody in the constituency."

Mr Heenan was 12 when his father was shot dead. No one has ever been convicted.

"I have demanded that Chris Hazzard speak out and condemn the murder of my father, but so far he hasn't responded. The murder of my father is an uncomfortable truth for the Provisional movement because he was not a member of the security forces," he said.

"I have no doubt that Chris Hazzard would not have to travel too far to find someone who knows something about the murder of my father."

Sandra Harrison, whose brother was killed by the IRA 30 years ago, and chairs a local victims group called MAST (Mourne Action for Survivors of Terrorism), said many who live in Castlewellan were disgusted.

"We feel like our noses are being rubbed in it. We are being reminded again and again every time we drive past that centre about the terrorists," she said.

"This does not feel like equality - Mr Hazzard is the MP for South Down, but operating out of that office, there will be many people who would not feel comfortable walking through that door.

"My brother was murdered 30 years ago last week. You try to get on with life, but seeing signs like that really brings the trauma back."

Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, added: "We have been contacted by several IVU families based in South Down who are deeply hurt by what has happened. A Member of Parliament for all? What a sickening insult".

DUP MLA Jim Wells said: "Sinn Fein speak of 'reaching out' to their unionist neighbours whilst erecting a sign which will cause enormous offence to the families of the 70 innocent victims of terrorism in South Down.

"What makes this development even more appalling is that when he was elected as the MP for South Down, Hazzard promised that he would work for all the people of the constituency.

"How could anyone who is not a republican feel comfortable going into a constituency office so obviously dedicated to two IRA terrorists?"

Mr Wells has made a complaint about the name of the office to both Westminster's Commissioner for Standards and the Assembly.

An official from the Assembly responded to Mr Wells in an email telling him that his concerns will be investigated, and "if necessary, any appropriate action taken".

The Commissioner for Standards told the Belfast Telegraph that it was not currently investigating the matter, adding that the funding of MPs' offices was a matter for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA).

However, while IPSA confirmed it does pay some expenses to Sinn Fein MPs, which can include the running of the offices of the party's MPs, it does not have any specific rules over the naming of these offices.

McNulty (47) was killed in a premature bomb explosion during an attack on Castlewellan RUC base on January 26, 1972, while Magorrian (21) was shot dead by the Army in Castlewellan on August 14, 1974.

Sinn Fein said: "The Sinn Fein advice centre in Castlewellan - which is currently being used as the constituency office by Chris Hazzard MP - has been named after Peter McNulty and Paul Magorrian for 25 years. Under the Good Friday Agreement, everyone, including Irish republicans, have the right to remember their dead with dignity and respect."

Belfast Telegraph

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