Ulster Unionist justice spokesperson Doug Beattie has hit out at what he has described as “Sinn Fein hypocrisy” over comments made by Gerry Adams at the funeral of former IRA leader Kevin McKenna.
McKenna, a former IRA chief of staff, passed away last week and his funeral took place in Co Monaghan on Thursday.
Speaking at the grave-side, Mr Adams described McKenna as “a decent man doing his best in very difficult times”, and said the IRA had been “right” to fight against British rule in Ireland.
The former Sinn Fein president added: “All children need iconic figures that they can depend upon. Kevin McKenna was very dependable.
“And tell them before they were born that he fought for them and for their future so they will grow old in a free and united Ireland.
“Tell them that granda was in the ‘Ra. Tell them he was a rebel. Tell them he was a freedom fighter.”
Condemning his comments, Mr Beattie MC MLA said: “Gerry Adams’ comments at the funeral of mass murderer Kevin McKenna highlighted perfectly the madness and malevolent hatred that drives physical force republicanism,
“Sinn Fein at Stormont and in the Dail will talk about partnership, rights and respect, and try to tell us that unionists have nothing to fear in any future united Ireland; then in the next breath they gather to venerate one of the most brutal mass-murderers western Europe has seen since 1945.”
Reflecting on McKenna’s violent past, the Upper Bann MLA added: “He (Gerry Adams) also needs to tell them that Kevin McKenna and the violence he promoted brought nothing but shame on Irish republicanism, and destroyed the prospects of reconciliation, let alone a united Ireland.
“He was a terrorist and a mass murderer. He justified the murder of babies and pensioners – Protestant and Catholic alike in the pursuit of a goal that his own actions ensured he would never live to see.”
He said there is another quote from Gerry Adams that should act as a warning to the Government and anyone who thinks that legacy proposals should include some kind of truth commission: “The part played by republicans like Kevin during the long years of war will never be known. The tale will never be told.”
Mr Beattie added: “Let that quote be the end of any fantasy that republicans will ever engage in a truth process. They demand the truth from others, yet have no intention of providing it themselves. It’s long past time the Government stopped indulging this hypocrisy.”