Claims made by Sinn Fein that the British Government is treating victims of the Troubles with "contempt" are “absolutely staggering”, an MLA has said.
Doug Beattie, the Ulster Unionist Party’s justice spokesperson, has hit out at Sinn Fein after Gerry Kelly accused the UK Government of being "hurtful" to victims and their families.
Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday that investigating soldiers and police in Northern Ireland for killings during the Troubles was “unfair”.
Sinn Fein MLA, responding to the prime minister’s remarks, said: “What she is saying is shameful and what she is clearly pointing towards is while no one should be above the law, she wants British troops to be above the law. She is being hurtful to victims and families of victims, some who have been waiting up to 50 years for some truth and justice.”
He added: “Remember, victims are at the core of this. They’re the ones who are frustrated and angry at the delay, upon delay and it needs to stop.”
However, Mr Beattie, a former soldier, said he was “staggered” by the hypocrisy of Sinn Fein's comments.
“Firstly, just when did Sinn Fein start to care about the victims of the Troubles, especially the tens of thousands that were created by the IRA’s terror campaign?," he said.
"It was the IRA who showed contempt for victims when they bombed the Abercorn, Claudy, La Mon and Enniskillen, yet there is no Sinn Fein condemnation of these crimes.
“Secondly, Sinn Fein helped write the book in showing contempt for victims. It’s what they do every time they attend commemorations for IRA terrorists at Castlederg, Cappagh or Clonoe. Or name play parks after Raymond McCreesh. Or mock the murder of ten innocent workmen shot by the IRA at Kingsmills.
Any interest Sinn Fein now have the victims of the Troubles has come almost 50 years too late to be of any use. They will not be allowed to re-write history. Doug Beattie, Ulster Unionist justice spokesman
Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said she would be writing to Theresa May about her "inaccurate, misleading and mischievous" comments.
“These remarks are deeply insensitive to the loss and pain of hundreds of families who have been bereaved by the British state forces," she said.
"They have caused deep hurt and offence and could even undermine confidence in the rule of law and the administration of justice.
“They are also demonstrably untrue as has been evidenced by official statistics and statements on legacy investigations."