Alliance party slams Sinn Fein over pictures of young people posing with replica weapons

Whiterock Leisure Centre in Belfast
Whiterock Leisure Centre in Belfast

The Alliance Party has slammed a Sinn Fein event in which young people posed with paramilitary regalia and weapons.

The party believes the ‘Women in the struggle’ event took place in a west Belfast social club on Saturday night.

Alliance justice spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA raised concerns after seeing a number of photographs of the event.

He accused Sinn Fein of “glorifying terrorism”, adding that the party’s European election candidate Martina Anderson appears to have attended.

Mr Dickson said: “I am totally opposed to these types of events that glorify terrorism.

“It sickens me that anybody would seek to commemorate any paramilitary organisation.

“It is deeply disappointing to see these young people being encouraged to wear paramilitary regalia and to hold replica weapons.

“It is doubtful that any of them could remember much before the Good Friday Agreement, so it is depressing to see them involved in this type of paramilitary display.

“I believe that Martina Anderson may have been at this event.

“The public must question whether a European candidate thinks this paramilitary display is acceptable.”

One photo showed five young women standing on a stage, dressed in black with long military-style olive green coats and hats.

One stood behind a lectern which had a ‘vote Sinn Fein’ placard on the front.

Another young woman held a replica wooden rifle with magazine and another a replica pistol, possibly a revolver, while a third held a flag in a marching harness.

A selection of republican flags were leaning against the back of the stage in the background .

A second photo showed Ms Anderson in front of the same stage holding the ‘vote Sinn Fein placard’. Around her were over a dozen young people.

A Sinn Fein spokesman insisted that the people in the photographs were not children but adults.

He declined to offer any further comment about the nature or location of the event.