A DUP councillor has challenged the Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast to explain his presence at a funeral for a member of the women’s wing of the IRA.
The funeral took place on Friday of Ardoyne republican Margaret McClenaghan, who died earlier in the week. Republican News said her coffin was draped with “both the Tricolour and the Cumann na mBan standard”.
Cumann na mBan is the women’s wing of the IRA.
Republican News said: “Senior republicans such as Gerry Kelly, Seán Murray, Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane, Bairbre de Brún, Sue Ramsey and Mairtín Ó Muilleoir, as well as many sitting and former Sinn Fein councillors, acted as pall bearers, carrying Margaret’s coffin which was flanked by a republican guard of honour.” It added that Gerry Kelly gave the graveside oration.
DUP Councillor Lee Reynolds said yesterday: “There is widespread disgust that senior Sinn Fein representatives, including the Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir, participated in a funeral which included the promotion of a terrorist organisation.
“For a section of the funeral the coffin was covered with a flag for the Belfast Brigade of Cumann na mBan including the image of a gun. The coffin was also flanked by a republican guard of honour in uniform.” He added: “For any elected representative to participate in such a glorification of terrorism is highly inappropriate and anti-democratic. For the current lord mayor to attend and participate in the funeral calls into serious question his claim to be a man who can represent what is best for our capital city.
“He can have no credibility in condemning the terrorist threat facing Belfast today whilst he participates in the glorification of terrorism. He must give a full public account of his attendance and participation at this display.
“‘Cumann na mBan’ is a proscribed terrorist organisation which played an active role in many killings and acts of republican violence over recent decades. It is untenable for Sinn Fein to claim to be a party of law and order whilst carrying coffins bedecked with images of terrorist guns.”
North Belfast Sinn Fein councillor Gerard McCabe responded: “It is not the place of Lee Reynolds to tell republicans or indeed any other family how they should conduct the funeral of a loved one. His remarks regarding the recent funeral of former political prisoner and Sinn Fein Councillor Margaret McClenaghan are ill-informed, offensive and arrogant.
“Margaret McClenaghan gave a lifetime of service to the people of North Belfast. She was a proud republican and a significant supporter of the peace process. It is quite shameful that the DUP would seek to try and score cheap political points on the back of her death and funeral.”
He questioned DUP responses to the UVF’s alleged violence at Ardoyne, recent attempted murder of a young woman in east Belfast and an alleged annual UVF commemoration parade in Coleraine.