Belfast Telegraph

Unionists hit out at Sinn Fein for 'romanticising murder' over IRA commemoration

By Mark Edwards

Unionists have accused Sinn Fein of "romanticising attempted murder" after commemorating the 30th anniversary of the death of IRA man Seamus Woods.

Woods died from his injuries after a mortar exploded prematurely during an IRA attack on Pomeroy barracks in 1988.

No members of the security forces were injured in the attack.

On Saturday former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams tweeted: “I’m in Pomeroy, County Tyrone for the 30th anniversary of the death of IRA Volunteer Seamus Woods who was killed in an attack on Pomeroy barracks in 1989. Beautiful evening for the event and Woods Family. A great crowd in attendance.”

Sinn Fein have said under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement everyone has a right to remember their dead with dignity and respect.

Ulster Unionist Councillor Chris Smyth said:  “It is deeply regretful and will anger many people, including myself, that Sinn Fein continues to attempt to romanticise attempted murder, and in this particular case an attempt to inflict mass murder on people serving the community.

“Let me be clear, attempting to fire a mortar into a Police Station represents the actions of a man with cold-hearted murder in his heart. I will however not sit silently by as actions which are clearly morally unjustifiable are celebrated by those who claim to be ‘reaching out to Unionists’.

“By attempting to romanticise the murderous attempts of Seamus Woods, Gerry Adams sends out a very dangerous message, that mass murder of your fellow man is justified and to be celebrated."

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UUP's Chris Smyth

Cllr Smyth said that during the Troubles everyone had a choice of whether to engage in murder if they had "perceived injustice in the world" and said the consequences of these actions "were empty chairs at dinner tables across our community".

He added: “Thankfully Northern Ireland has a wealth of people who made the right choice. Those who chose politics, community activism and other avenues to help Northern Ireland get through the dark days. They are the people we should celebrate, not a terrorist like Seamus Woods.

“Sinn Fein have a simple choice ahead of them, continue to romanticise terrorism in an effort to sanitise the dark deeds of the IRA for selfish political gain, or they can reject terrorism in all its forms and allow this country to move forward to a new age of peace and prosperity.

“Recent actions regarding the Newry Playpark, the H block escape roadshow and now this, fill me with a feeling they will choose selfish political gain.” 

A Sinn Fein spokesperson said: "Sinn Féin will continue to remember our Republican patriot dead and stand in solidarity with their families.

"If we are to reconcile this society then there is an onus on everyone to accept that we have different histories, allegiances and different narratives on the recent conflict in Ireland and British wars across the globe.”

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