Belfast Telegraph

Unionist anger at republican 'H Block Escape Night' - 'Immoral attempt to profit from violence'

Maze escapee Gerry Kelly
Maze escapee Gerry Kelly

A local unionist councillor has branded a 'H Block Escape Night' featuring a Sinn Fein MLA as an "Immoral attempt to profit from violence."

Omagh Ulster Unionist Councillor Chris Smyth described the event, held in Carrickmore on Saturday night, as "the height of immorality".

At the event three Maze escapees, well-known republican Bobby Storey, Brendan McFarlane, who headed the escape, and current North Belfast MLA Gerry Kelly promised to give attendees the true story of the mass prison breakout.

The 1983 Maze Prison escape of 38 prisoners was the largest in UK history. Escapees used weapons smuggled into the prison, making their getaway in a food delivery truck.

Prison officer James Ferris died from a heart attack after he was stabbed during the escape while another, John Adams, was shot in the head.

Councillor Smyth said the event glorified violence.

“The event in Carrickmore where three former IRA prisoners – including Gerry Kelly MLA – were due to appear at an evening billed as ‘H Block Escape Night – the story told as it happened’ is the height of immorality," he said.

“During that escape one prison officer died and twenty others were injured, including two who were shot. Now we have the pathetic sight of republicans conducting road shows to boast about their activities in front of a paying public.

“Sinn Fein often demands the truth from others, but republicans have hitherto demonstrated a complete reluctance to tell it themselves. Indeed given previous comments that Gerry Adams was never in the IRA, I wouldn’t be too surprised if last night’s event in Carrickmore was told that the three men advertised as appearing, were never even in the Maze.

Cllr Smyth said attendees were charged £10 for admission to the event.

The poster for the event
The poster for the event

“The IRA holds many secrets. Previously Martin McGuinness told the Saville Inquiry that he had taken an oath to the IRA which he could never break," he said.

“Now we see a road show in Carrickmore where for £10 you can hear about the Maze escape ‘as it happened.’ Perhaps this is some new initiative being rolled out whereby the truth can be told, but only if you pay a tenner to hear it.

“One wonders if this is part of a new campaign for the truth. Perhaps for future events they could consider a night to tell the paying public what happened to Jean McConville and the rest of the Disappeared? That could be followed up by an appearance of the men behind Bloody Friday. Then we could have an event where the Claudy bombers take to the stage. Next up the La Mon bombers could regale an audience with just how – and why - they murdered so many innocent people.

He said the assault was insulting to victims of IRA violence.

“The event in Carrickmore was a grotesque demonstration of republican hypocrisy. It is an insult to victims and an indictment as to how they really feel about the rest of society. It saddens me that Sinn Fein appears to have learned nothing from Barry McElduff’s antics and continues to re-traumatise victims at every opportunity. This is no way to build a shared future,” Cllr Smyth said.

The Belfast Telegraph have contacted Sinn Fein but have yet to receive a response.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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