THE SDLP on Monday night voted for a Stormont motion which supported Sammy Brush – just weeks after voting for a motion which backed his would-be killer.
Last night’s Assembly debate came after weeks of unionist anger at a decision by SDLP and Sinn Fein councillors in Dungannon to vote through a motion in support of the man convicted of attempting to murder Cllr Brush, despite the fact that the DUP representative is their council colleague.
But, in a move which surprised observers, Alasdair McDonnell’s party voted with unionists, the Alliance Party and Green MLA Steven Agnew to back a DUP motion supporting Cllr Brush and expressing “revulsion at those who side with would-be murderers rather than an innocent public servant”.
The motion was passed overwhelmingly, by 66 votes to 27, after a heated debate in which SDLP and Sinn Fein MLAs again called for former IRA man Gerry McGeough, who shot Cllr Brush in 1981, to be released from jail.
Cllr Brush, who sat in the public gallery during the debate, told the News Letter that it was “hypocrisy” for nationalist MLAs to condemn the dissident republican murderers of prison officer David Black but call for his attempted killer to be released.
And, in another sign that anger about Troubles atrocities lies just beneath the surface in Northern Ireland, it has emerged that the family of Mr Black has asked Martin McGuinness not to attend his funeral today.