Banner featuring Claire Hanna and Shankill bomber Sean Kelly erected in south Belfast
A banner featuring SDLP election candidate Claire Hanna and Shankill bomber Sean Kelly has been erected in south Belfast.
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The banner, which appeared at the junction of Oak Street and Donegall Pass on Thursday, bears the question: "Will the Shankill bomber be campaigning for the Sinn Fein/SDLP joint South Belfast candidate.
An SDLP spokesperson said the party has already made it clear Sean Kelly will not be canvassing for any of its candidates. A party spokesman said Ms Hanna would not be commenting on the banner.
Colum Eastwood said the suggestion Kelly would be part of their campaign trail was "absolutely and totally offensive and nobody believes it".
Sean Kelly, who is part of Sinn Fein's election team in north Belfast, planted an IRA bomb at Frizzell's fish shop on the Shankill Road in 1993, killing nine people.
Kelly himself was severely injured when the bomb exploded prematurely.
Many victims of IRA violence have criticised Sinn Fein's use of the convicted bomber as a canvasser, stating it causes needless distress.
It is unclear who erected the banner featuring Kelly and Claire Hanna.
Sinn Fein have stood aside in South Belfast in a bid to maximise the vote for Remainer Claire Hanna, who is expected to amount a strong challenge against DUP incumbent Emma Little Pengelly.
This has prompted the DUP's Lagan Valley Westminster candidate, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, to ask: "Sean Kelly has been canvassing for Sinn Fein in North Belfast, but will he now be canvassing on behalf of the SDLP too?"
"I accept everyone can have a past and can change, but Sean Kelly has shown no remorse for murdering nine innocent people, including two children.
"Do the SDLP endorse his involvement in support of their pact? Given the SDLP-Sinn Fein electoral pact, will Sean Kelly be welcomed in South Belfast by Claire Hanna? Mr Eastwood must clarify."
In response, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood accused the DUP of consorting with loyalist paramilitaries.
“The DUP have been cosying up to loyalist paramilitaries when the SDLP have been facing down republican paramilitaries and loyalist paramilitaries from any hue in any place because that’s what we do,” he told the BBC.
“So I’ll not take any lectures from the DUP or anyone else about our involvement with paramilitaries.
“It is absolutely and totally offensive and nobody believes it.”
Belfast Telegraph Digital