Equality Commission asked to probe whether MP breached legislation by naming centre after terrorists

A nameplate honouring two IRA terrorists has been referred to the Equality Commission (ECNI) as being inappropriate for a publicly-funded building.

By Mark Rainey
Saturday, 20th February 2021, 9:15 am
UUP councillor Alan Lewis outside South Down MP Chris Hazzard's advice centre in Castlewellan
UUP councillor Alan Lewis outside South Down MP Chris Hazzard's advice centre in Castlewellan

Ulster Unionist councillor Alan Lewis has written to the chief commissioner, requesting a probe into whether South Down MP Chris Hazzard has breached any equality legislation or guidelines by naming his Castlewellan advice centre after Peter McNulty and Paul Magorrian.

Both men were killed while engaged in terrorist activities in the early 1970s.

The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) has already been in contact with Mr Hazzard to “seek assurance that he has complied with the Scheme of MPs’ Business Costs and Expenses.”

In his letter to the ECNI, Cllr Lewis states: “As a member of Parliament, Mr Hazard’s constituency office should be – as any public place – an open and neutral environment.

“I strongly believe that the commission has input to this issue. I respectfully ask that you as chief commissioner consider and advise if it is appropriate for a publicly funded parliamentary advice office to be named in dedication, and display signage honouring the memory of two proclaimed terrorists.”

Cllr Lewis added: “McNulty blew himself up on January 26, 1972 while attempting to bomb Castlwellan police station.

“Magorrian was shot by an army unit as he lay in wait to ambush them at Bunkers Hill, also in Castlwellan, on August 14, 1974. The circumstances of their deaths are neither debatable or relevant, I draw your attention to the fact both are described (on the aforementioned roll of honour) as having died on ‘active service’.

The IPSA intervention last September was in response to a complaint from the son of an IRA victim who lives a few miles from the McNulty-Magorrian advice centre.

Sammy Heenan, whose civilian father William was shot dead at the family farm in 1985, said: “I, like so many people continue to be rightly appalled at this continued glorification and repugnant eulogising of terrorism which brought immeasurable misery to our constituency.”

A Sinn Féin spokesperson said: “Chris Hazzard MP’s office provides a first-class constituency service to everyone in South Down without fear or favour and its services are widely used by people from right across the political spectrum and right across the community.

“We will continue to provide those services to all who require them.”

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