Accusation of ‘double standards’ over IRA commemoration parade

editorial image

Sinn Fein has been accused of ignoring unionist sensitivities in Co Tyrone – while at the same time calling for respect to be shown to nationalist communities in Belfast.

Several unionist representatives in Castlederg have spoken out after plans were revealed to commemorate two IRA men killed by their own bomb near the border town.

The Tyrone Commemoration Committee has applied for permission to hold a parade on August 11 to mark the deaths of Seamus Harvey and Gerard McGlynn.

Sinn Fein’s Gerry Kelly is to give the main address close to where the two terrorist bombers died in 1973.

Castlederg Ulster Unionist councillor Derek Hussey said Sinn Fein have no respect for the Protestant population of the town – who he describes as having “suffered terribly” at the hands of the IRA – yet were calling for unionists to respect nationalist sensitivities elsewhere.

“I suspect double standards are something that Sinn Fein are well used to,” he said.

“With regards to the Castlederg parade, the proposal involves walking over the ground where terrorists murdered two police reservists.

“There is growing trepidation and anger in the town as the parade date gets closer.”

Cllr Hussey added: “People are waiting to see how the Parades Commission are going to deal with this particular event.

“Myself and Ross Hussey MLA have had a face-to-face meeting with the chairman of the commission.

“There will be many representations to the Parades Commission between now and the determination date at the end of July I’ve no doubt.”

When asked if he thought his appeals for the parade to be called off would be heeded, he said: “I wouldn’t hold out much hope regarding the organisers of the event.”

West Tyrone DUP MLA Tom Buchanan said Sinn Fein were trying to rewrite the history of the terrorist campaign in places such as Castlederg.

Mr Buchanan said he would also be seeking a meeting with the Parades Commission.

“Castlederg suffered immensely at the hands of IRA terrorism. The unionist community in this small town was devastated at the hands of republicans during their sectarian murder campaign,” he said.

“This event on 11th August is not just offensive to the victims of IRA terrorism or to the unionist community, but to any right thinking person in Northern Ireland.

“Republican terrorists were not successful in bombing and shooting their way to a united Ireland and attempts now to rewrite this brutal history will not succeed either.”

Mr Buchanan said there have been no convictions for any of the murders carried out by the Provisional IRA in Castlederg and that next month’s parade passes the scene of some of those killings.

He added: “The test now is to see if the commission will take action against a grossly offensive parade to commemorate terrorists killed by their own bomb as they attempted to inflict yet further death and destruction on the community of Castlederg.”

The IRA commemoration parade will leave from Priest’s Lane car park and disperse at Hillview Park.

Around 12 bands and 500 people are expected to take part.

The Parades Commission is due to issue its determination on July 30.

West Tyrone TUV chairman Scott McFarland said the parade was not welcome in the Castlederg area, where the IRA detonated over 50 bombs and killed 28 Protestants.

“This grotesque commemoration would be grossly offensive to many people who lost loved ones at the hands of the IRA and makes a mockery of Sinn Fein’s talk of a ‘shared future’.

“How can people have a shared future when the bloody deeds of the IRA are celebrated anywhere, never mind in a town which suffered so much because of them?” he said.

Sinn Fein declined to comment on the criticism.