Unionist fury over celebration bid for IRA terrorist

INFURIATED Unionists have voiced their determination today to put a halt to a Sinn Fein celebration of the life of an IRA member gunned down by the SAS in Gibraltar from being held at Stormont.

Ulster Unionist deputy leader Danny Kennedy believes a proposal by Sinn Fein West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann for an event to be held in the Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings is "grotesque and completely unacceptable".

Mr Kennedy, who is the chairman of the Committee for the First Minister and Deputy First Minister, has written to the Stormont Events Office asking to have the function blocked.

Ms McCann is sponsoring the proposed event honouring Mairead Farrell - a convicted IRA terrorist who was among three killed by the SAS in Gibraltar in 1988.

The event on March 7, Mr Kennedy, said was cynically being billed as a Celebration of International Women's Day.

"The use of the Long Gallery to 'celebrate' the life of a convicted terrorist is both grotesque and completely unacceptable," Mr Kennedy said.

"It represents in my view an abuse of privilege on behalf of any member, to use the surroundings of public buildings for such a controversial purpose."

He said to promote the event in the name of International Women's Day was "entirely inappropriate and misleading and should not be allowed".

The Ulster Unionist man has written to the Events Office at Stormont officially setting out his objections.

He said: "I do not believe that this event is appropriate for the Long Gallery or Parliament Buildings and I would request that this application be reviewed urgently and refused on that basis."

Mr Kennedy has been supported in his opposition by Democratic Unionist MLA Nelson McCausland who said: "For Jennifer McCann to claim that an event celebrating the life of such a criminal has anything to do with International Woman's Day is quite frankly ludicrous."