Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein told to 'catch a grip' over recent decisions - victims' campaigner hits out a 'double standards'

Martina Anderson
Martina Anderson

By Gillian Halliday

Sinn Fein has been urged to "catch a grip" of itself following a series of high-profile decisions made by the party in recent days.

Yesterday the Police Federation of Northern Ireland (PFNI) defended the PSNI after Sinn Fein criticised police for their handling of a security alert in west Belfast.

Last Saturday, a bomb alert in Dunmurry forced the PSNI to impose a security cordon.

During the subsequent four-day operation, a school was closed and residents were evacuated from their homes.

West Belfast MLA Orlaithi Flynn said she was set to meet the PSNI to raise the concerns of residents.

However, the PFNI said in a tweet that "protecting people should not be the basis for political point scoring" in response to the criticism.

On Tuesday, Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson - a convicted IRA bomber who was jailed for her part in a series of explosions in England during the 1980s - was caught up in the Strasbourg Christmas market terrorist attack which left three dead.

In the immediate aftermath, Ms Anderson expressed sympathy for those injured and affected by the attack which she said had "shocked" the city.

The development came days after it was announced that former Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff will stand as a candidate for the upcoming council elections - 11 months after he quit amid controversy.

In January, Mr McElduff posted footage on Twitter of himself posing with a Kingsmill-branded loaf on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre - an IRA atrocity which saw 10 Protestant workmen lined up and shot by gunmen.

He said he did not realise the date and denied it was intended to offend.

Kenny Donaldson, a victims rights campaigner with South East Fermanagh Foundation, said yesterday the party's actions in recent days showed a complete lack of "self-awareness" and "double standards".

"To hear Martina Anderson, a convicted Provisional IRA bomber speak of the horrors of Strasbourg, to hear her speak of the fear and sense of distress experienced by those caught up the incident is absolutely sickening for those who were the innocents of her comparable actions and those of her terrorist comrades," he said.

"Let Martina Anderson and her colleagues belatedly recognise the terror, fear and intimidation they caused when they carried out acts of terror similar to that carried out in the Strasbourg Christmas markets."

He added: "Sinn Fein really needs to catch a grip. Is it committed to playing its part in building a peaceful and fully democratic society where there is support for the rule of law or will it continue to offer succour to terrorism through deflecting responsibility upon these seeking to keep the community (inclusive of their supporters) safe?"

He also challenged Orlaithi Flynn on her remarks over the security alert in west Belfast.

"Protection of life must always be the priority. The responsibility for the west Belfast security alert rests with those terrorists concerned and anyone who is in receipt of information which could lead to their apprehending."

After McElduff announced his candidacy, Mr Donaldson said: "Sinn Fein talks the language of equality, the language of respect, the language of peace-building - but talk is all it ever is."

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