An IRA victim’s son has accused Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill of “dancing on victims’ graves” by speaking at an event commemorating the eight terrorists killed in Loughgall three decades ago.
In May 1987 the IRA tried to blow up Loughgall police station in Co Armagh.
Members of the East Tyrone/Monaghan brigade loaded a bomb into a stolen digger which smashed through the gates of the station.
The SAS was lying in wait and opened fire killing all eight members of the IRA unit.
An innocent civilian Anthony Hughes was also shot dead during the ambush.
Thirty years on Sinn Fein’s leader in Northern Ireland Mrs O’Neill sparked fury after it emerged she will be the guest speaker at a memorial event for the IRA men in Co Tyrone on Sunday.
The move has provoked anger from victims, including Alan Dallas, whose father was murdered by the IRA in March 1989.
Leslie Dallas, Austin Nelson and Ernie Rankin were mown down by the IRA as they stood outside Dallas’ garage in Coagh, near Cookstown.
Alan told the News Letter: “It is sickening that Michelle O’Neill is speaking at an event such as this, in which Sinn Fein is seeking to rewrite history in an attempt to turn these terrorists into heroes.
“These people set out to commit murder, and one of our politicians is seeking to glorify those actions.
“Glorifying what these men did is wrong and only serves to drag up all the hurt and pain of IRA victims’ families all over again.
“My dad was just standing at his garage, where he earned a living, when he was murdered by cowards.”
At the time, the IRA claimed Leslie Dallas was a member of the UVF, but his family have denied this. He is listed as a civilian in the online archive of Troubles-related deaths, CAIN.
“The IRA said he was involved with paramilitaries, but there was no connection whatsoever,” Alan added.
“He was an innocent man who was killed while having a conversation with two other innocent men.”
Describing Mrs O’Neill’s intention to take part in Sunday’s commemoration as “mind-boggling”, Alan said: “She is dancing on victim’s graves and causing more hurt to families who suffered at the hands of the IRA.”
The News Letter asked Sinn Fein to comment on Mrs O’Neill’s planned presence at the event, but they did not respond.