A former military man has attacked a “vile” remark made by a Sinn Fein figure about the UK military – but has called for him not to face prosecution over it.
Doug Beattie was speaking after the PSNI confirmed it is looking into Francie Molloy’s remark, made on social media on December 1.
The next day MPs voted to authorise RAF bombing raids designed to hit ISIS targets in Syria.
The abstentionist MP for Mid Ulster had said on the website Twitter: “Brits back to what they do best, Murder.”
The PSNI confirmed on Wednesday: “PSNI received a complaint on February 3. Detectives will seek to establish if any offences have been committed.”
Doug Beattie, Portadown UUP councillor and decorated ex-soldier, said: “What Francie Molloy said is exactly the type of comment I would expect somebody like Francie Molloy to say.
“Because he will use any opportunity whatsoever to bash the British military or to bash the British establishment.
“Never mind that we have British servicemen in Sierra Leone fighting Ebola. Never mind that we’re supporting the people in Syria in refugee camps... Never mind that the British are in the Mediterranean helping to pick up those terrible wretched poor people who are trying to escape the conflict [in Iraq and Syria].
“He seems to ignore all of this and pick one angle. And it’s just what I’d expect from Francie Molloy to be perfectly honest with you. And I don’t give it the time of day.”
Although police have not established that an offence has indeed taken place regarding Mr Molloy’s tweet, when asked if the MP should face prosecution for the comments, Mr Beattie said: “I don’t think he should be prosecuted for them, in the same way I don’t think Pastor McConnell should have been brought to court either.”
He said that the remarks had been “vile comments”, adding: “We live in a world where we applaud freedom of speech and people fight for freedom of speech. And therefore he [Molloy] has that freedom of speech.
“It’s all about how you use freedom of speech and some don’t seem to understand how they should use it.”
He said this particularly applied to those “in a position of authority, such as Pastor McConnell in one instance, and certainly Francie Molloy in a different context”.
Pastor McConnell had been acquitted on January 5 of two charges relating to the online broadcast of an allegedly “grossly offensive” sermon which condemned Muslims.