Massereene murders: Unionists voice disgust at judge’s ‘insult’

Marian Price seen buying the phone later used to claim RIRA responsibility for the murder of two soldiers in Antrim in 2009.
Marian Price seen buying the phone later used to claim RIRA responsibility for the murder of two soldiers in Antrim in 2009.

Support for the families of murdered sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar was last night extended by unionist politicians after Marian McGlinchey received a suspended sentence for an offence related to the murders.

DUP MP for South Antrim, William McCrea, said the “miserable sentence is an insult to the people who have suffered as a consequence of the murders of Sappers Quinsey and Azimkar”.

He said he felt “an absolute sense of injustice” at the case, adding that he intends to speak to the sappers’ families “to consider how this sentence can be challenged”.

“In the past, the Director of Public Prosecutions has raised his concerns about the sentencing of criminals,” he said.

“I hope he will show the same speed in demanding tougher sentences for those involved in republican criminal and terrorist activity. It is frankly outrageous that a person can be convicted of involvement .... and be awarded a suspended sentence.”

TUV MLA for North Antrim, Jim Allister, said: “I am dismayed that for the vile crime of aiding and abetting terrorism Marian McGlinchey has received a paltry suspended sentence.”

The TUV leader said that the Quinsey and Azimkar families “deserve justice”.

“It is a sad reflection on our society when victims of terrorism cannot be assured that such justice as is obtained will result in meaningful punishment,” he added.

Ulster Unionist MLA, Tom Elliott, said: “The judge’s reasoning – that the risk of reoffending was low, that McGlinchey’s health was now ‘poor and deteriorating’ and if she returned to prison she faced a significant risk of severe depression – will be utterly rejected by many people.

“Prison time should not be easy or something people look forward to.

“I would certainly have preferred it if the judge had paid more attention to the health of the two murdered soldiers rather than that of Marian McGlinchey.”

Mr Elliott said that as sappers Mark Quinsey and Patrick Azimkar “were the victims in this my sympathies are with them and their families, not a woman who was convicted for the terrorist bombing of the Old Bailey in 1973 in which one man died and 200 were injured, who was released on licence, and chose to involve herself in terrorism once again”.

He added that McGlinchey’s and Sinn Fein MLA Gerry Kelly’s sentence for clinging on to a PSNI Land Rover last summer are “in stark contrast to the heavy sentences handed down to many non-republicans in recent months”.

He said such sentences have led to community perception that the justice system is “very lenient towards republicans”.

NI Conservatives’ spokesman Mark Brotherston said: “The public prosecutor needs to consider appealing this decision.”