Belfast Telegraph

Willie Frazer joins chorus of anger over 'Strictly IRA' dance night

By Rebecca Black

Sean 'The Surgeon' Hughes should be hanging his head in shame - not taking part in a glitzy dancing event - a prominent victims' campaigner has said.

The Belfast Telegraph revealed yesterday the bizarre spectacle of the ex-IRA chief featuring in the promotional video to advertise a Sinn Fein Strictly-themed fundraiser this weekend.

Hughes has been named under parliamentary privilege as one of the IRA leaders who authorised the murder of Paul Quinn in 2007. He has not been charged with any offence in relation to that murder and is deemed innocent until proven guilty.

Mr Quinn's family told this newspaper of their disgust at the spectacle of seeing Hughes in the video.

"My son will never dance again," said Paul's mother Breege. "He will never be able to get dressed up, go for a night out, see his friends, have a bit of fun.

"The IRA robbed Paul of all that and more. It makes my blood boil to think of Sean Hughes out enjoying himself at a dance competition while Paul lies in a grave." The event in Jonesborough is aimed to raise money in the run-up to elections on both sides of the border. The party is charging £15 into the event, with 1,000 people expected to attend.

Sinn Fein said it was part of "centenary events to commemorate the Easter Rising" in Newry and Armagh, adding: "Couples from right across the constituency have been shaking, jumping and jiving all winter in order to claim victory at what promises to be a fantastic event."

Now Protestant victims' campaigner William Frazer, who represents scores of victims of the IRA in south Armagh, has added his condemnation.

"I am disgusted. For them to talk about it being a fundraiser, it is basically dancing on the graves. The man should be hanging his head in shame."

Hughes is a close associate of Thomas 'Slab' Murphy and has been linked under parliamentary privilege to numerous murders and bombings.

In December 2002 the DUP's Peter Robinson accused Hughes under parliamentary privilege of being on the IRA Army Council and linked him to the 1996 Canary Wharf bombing that killed two and ended the IRA ceasefire.

Mr Robinson also claimed Hughes was responsible for the Warrenpoint bombing in which 18 soldiers were killed; a mortar attack on Newry RUC station that killed nine officers, and the murder of Lord Justice Gibson and his wife Lady Cecily. Again, Hughes has not been charged with any offence in connection with these incidents.

When Belfast High Court froze assets belonging to Hughes in 2009, Sinn Fein's Conor Murphy defended him.

Belfast Telegraph


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