‘My IRA call was wrong’ says republican on policing body

Londonderry and Strabane PCSP member Martin Connolly
Londonderry and Strabane PCSP member Martin Connolly

A senior Londonderry republican who last week called for the return of the IRA said his remarks were an “inappropriate” and an “angry” reaction to anti-social behaviour in the Bogside.

Martin Connolly, a member of Sinn Fein who sits on the city’s Policing Partnership, posted the comment on Facebook. It has since been removed.

He spoke out after Sinn Fein election posters appeared on a controversial bonfire at Lecky Road.

In his Facebook post, Mr Connolly described the burning of “photographs of [the] republican leadership” a “bloody disgrace”.

He branded the bonfire an “attack on our community” before adding: “My opinion, bring back the IRA.”

His comments provoked an angry reaction from unionists who called for the Policing Board - which says it has already received a complaint - to investigate.

DUP MLA Gary Middleton said Mr Connolly’s comments were “disgraceful”.

“There are times when we can be frustrated but what we don’t do is call for terrorist organisations to be brought back,” he said.

“He was in a position of responsibility and I think the Policing Board urgently need to investigate it,” he said.

Mr Connolly said yesterday that his outburst was “made out of frustration and anger after witnessing the wanton destruction of property and anti-social behaviour caused by a bonfire which was against the wishes of the local community - the community I grew up in.”

He added: “The IRA has gone and is not coming back and I fully support the Sinn Fein peace and political strategy. Anyone who knows me and works with me is well aware that this has been and will continue to be my consistent position.”