Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein MP McCallion's video tribute to IRA angers bomb survivor

By Leona O'Neill

A pensioner who survived the Claudy bomb has slammed a Sinn Fein MP for sharing a video commemorating IRA members online.

Elisha McCallion has been accused of 'promoting terrorism' after she posted a slideshow on her Facebook page of 46 IRA members from the Londonderry area alongside their interests and details of their death.

She shared the video - first posted in 2016 by the local branch of her party - on Tuesday on her Facebook page, writing: "As the Easter season comes to a close we remember with pride 'ordinary people in extraordinary times'."

Ulster Unionist Party councillor Mary Hamilton was badly injured when three IRA bombs ripped through Claudy village on July 31, 1972 killing nine people, including eight-year-old Kathryn Eakin.

She says the posting of the video by an elected political representative has caused 'much hurt' in her community.

"For someone who is a Member of Parliament to support such things, all she is doing is glorifying terrorists and hurting so much the people who are still seeking justice," she said. "I feel very, very hurt by this.

"I saw a man blown to bits in front of my eyes in the Claudy bomb. I saw dead children.

"Many of us here in Claudy have never got over it and never will. And the IRA also killed my brother-in-law. We have never got over those losses.

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The post shared by Sinn Fein MP Elisha McCallion

"People like Elisha McCallion don't understand the hurt something like this causes.

"The families of those IRA men feel hurt at their loss, because they are only human.

"Everybody's grief is the same. Why can they not understand the hurt we feel?

"I would urge her to stop and think of the pain that we, the victims of IRA violence, have carried all our lives before posting such things."

UUP MLA Doug Beattie said he was shocked at what he described as a 'shameful' video.

He has called on the House of Commons' Committee on Standards to look into the matter.

"I'm absolutely disturbed that an MP would post anything that glamorises terrorism," he said.

"And without a doubt Sinn Fein have endorsed and justified terrorism over the years. This is just another example of that.

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Mary Hamilton

"What struck me when watching it on Facebook was that many of those terrorists were killed accidentally when the bomb they were making or about to deploy detonated prematurely.

"And therefore the question has to be asked, who would have been the recipients had that not happened? Would we have seen mass civilian casualties, innocent men, women and children? I think there is a place for Westminster's standards committee to look at this.

"Here we have an elected Member of Parliament who is openly promoting terrorism. If that happened anywhere else in the UK then that person would be hauled over the coals, not just by the court of public opinion, but by calls to step down.

"It doesn't matter that she is an abstentionist. She is promoting terrorism and she shouldn't be doing that."

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said the video was re-traumatising victims and was an attempt to 'rewrite history'.

"What she has in essence done is take this video which elevates and lauds killers and tries to present them in a very humane light," he said.

"If it wasn't so serious it would be laughable. The video talks of them as being poets, loving music, dance, football and animals.

"It totally glosses over the fact that many of them were killers and died as a result of their own actions or the actions in trying to take the lives of others. She is trying to glamourise and reinvent what the IRA were about."

In response to the criticism, a Sinn Fein spokesperson said: "Easter is a time when Republicans commemorate our patriot dead.

"Under the Good Friday Agreement everyone has a right to remember their dead with dignity and respect.

"It's well past time that unionists recognised that right despite our different histories and allegiances and different narratives on the recent conflict in Ireland and British imperialist wars of aggression across the globe."

Belfast Telegraph

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