Victims of the Troubles have urged Sinn Fein to distance themselves from a Christmas-themed charity sketch involving the former party president Gerry Adams.
Mr Adams took part in the festive video posted on the Ferry Clever Facebook page, appearing as a carol singer and performing an amended version of the traditional carol Deck The Halls.
Unlike the original tune, Mr Adams sings: “Tis the season to be jolly, Tiocfaidh ar la, la, la”, a reference to the Irish republican slogan which translates from Irish as ‘our day will come’.
Sinn Fein said the video was made to raise funds for charity, while the Ferry Clever company said it was never their intention to offend anyone.
It followed criticism from victims campaigners and bereaved relatives.
Ann Travers’ 22-year-old sister Mary was shot dead and her father Tom seriously injured in an IRA gun attack as the family left Mass at St Brigid's Church in south Belfast on April 8, 1984.
Ms Travers branded the video as “deeply hurtful” and condemned Mr Adams for being “so flippant”, adding that it “reflects really poorly on Sinn Fein”.
She said she felt “reviled, a deep feeling of disgust and a level of hurt” upon first watching the social media video, which has since been shared online hundreds of times.
“He's got little thought or empathy for those of us who lost our loved ones and who have empty chairs at Christmas time,” she told the Belfast Telegraph.
“Easter time is never the same again because my sister was murdered just before Easter in 1984.
“I will never forget our first Christmas without her. For him to be so flippant and then to come out with the Tiocfaidh ar la.
“I mean how often have we heard that said during the times of the Troubles and the connotations of it, what it meant?
“We are now two weeks off from Christmas, families are once again always remembering their loved ones they lost.
“He comes out with this flippant video as if we are all to love cuddly Mr Adams.”
While Mr Adams is no longer Sinn Fein President and stood down as a TD in Louth for the party in 2020, Ms Travers said anyone who is “considering voting for them” should “remember what was said in the video”.
“Look we are never going to get justice for our loved ones, but it seems we can’t even be allowed to get a level of dignity,” she added.
“I know there will be people who will sit and laugh at that video, I would ask them to reflect and think how funny it is for the families of those who have lost a loved one - either witnessed their loved one being murdered or came across the scene, as I did where I saw my sister lying on top of my mother dying and my father having been shot six times.
“If they [Sinn Fein] have any kind of empathy or any sort of sense they would distance themselves from it and acknowledge it was a very unkind video to make and deeply hurtful.”
The brother of one of the 10 workmen murdered by the IRA in the Kingsmill massacre more than 40 years ago said “nothing surprises him” about the video.
Colin Worton lost his brother Kenneth Worton (24) in the 1976 sectarian atrocity in south Armagh and said Sinn Fein and those in the party have “a lot of growing up to do”.
“They [Sinn Fein] talk peace but it is only from the teeth out. They want to be taken seriously but then people in the party come out like that and do things so insensitive, especially at this time of year,” he said.
“I don’t think they understand victims and have the first clue about how victims feel.
“I don’t expect them to distance themselves from it. I think of all the political parties in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein have a lot of growing up to do.”
A Sinn Fein spokesperson said: “The social media video Ann Travers has complained about is a charity video done by Gerry Adams at the request of Ferry Clever in Derry.
“The proceeds are going to Foyle Search and Rescue.”
A spokesperson for Ferry Clever commented: “Whilst our business is based around satirical comedy, it was never our intention to offend anyone, particularly those who have suffered directly as a result of past conflict.”
The spokesperson concluded “As all of our customers will already know we regularly create videos with well known and high profile people for charitable causes specifically to raise awareness and much needed funds for local charities. These initiatives are a very effective way for us to give something back to the local communities we are ultimately here to serve.”