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DUP MEP Dodds slams top republican's Strasbourg invite

By Allan Preston

A DUP MEP has said she was outraged to learn a senior republican who served 12 years in jail for explosives offences was asked to speak at the European Parliament.

Sean 'Spike' Murray addressed a seminar this month in Strasbourg about post-conflict justice access in Ireland.

The event was hosted by European United Left/Nordic Green Left (GUE/NGL), an umbrella group of Left-wing political parties that includes Sinn Fein.

The official Twitter page of GUE/NGL posted a picture of Mr Murray with the quote: "Some families have been waiting 46 years for justice."

Murray is one of Sinn Fein's most senior officials in Belfast.

He was linked to an alleged gunrunning operation in Florida recently.

Last year the PSNI had convinced US gunrunner Mike Logan to fly to Belfast to testify against Murray.

But he died at his home in November before he could make the trip.

Murray has always strenuously denied the accusations.

Diane Dodds said the decision to host him in Strasbourg was an insult to all of the victims of IRA violence. "Most people would think it's outrageous that a convicted terrorist, who served 12 years in prison for explosives offences, comes to Strasbourg to pontificate on justice," she said.

Accusing Sinn Fein of attempting to "rewrite history", she added: "I suspect that Sean Murray's talk did not focus on the justice denied to many victims of IRA terrorism.

"When Sinn Fein speak of justice what they mean is prosecuting our soldiers and security forces."

Sinn Fein dismissed Mrs Dodds' comments, describing them as "faux outrage or rank hypocrisy".

"Sean Murray is one of the party's negotiation team on the issue of legacy," it said.

"He has engaged regularly with the DUP and the British and Irish Governments on legacy issues, from the Haass-O'Sullivan talks right through to the present day."

It added that the DUP had "regularly engaged with and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the representatives of loyalist paramilitaries".

And it said: "A key part of the Stormont House Agreement was how we deal with the legacy of the past, and structures were agreed to give all victims access to truth recovery.

"The British Government has a responsibility to fund those structures and the mechanisms required to allow victims and their relatives to access truth and justice."

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