Sinn Fein community safety rep calls for ‘return of IRA’

Londonderry and Strabane PCSP member Martin Connolly
Londonderry and Strabane PCSP member Martin Connolly

A call for the return of the IRA, made by a community representative in Londonderry, should be investigated by the Policing Board, leading DUP figures have said.

A Facebook message posted by Martin Connolly, a member of the local Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP), slammed those responsible for placing Sinn Fein posters on a bonfire in the Bogside, and ended with the line: “Bring back the IRA.”

The message appeared on the page of Willie McGuinness – a brother of Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Mr Connolly declared himself to be a member of Sinn Fein when he joined the PCSP as an independent appointee in 2008. The body is funded by the Department of Justice and the NI Policing Board to help reduce crime and enhance community safety.

In the controversial Facebook message, he said: “The photographs of republican leadership on this bonfire is a bloody opinion, bring back the IRA.” The post has since been deleted.

DUP MLA and Policing Board member Joanne Bunting said an investigation was needed, but said such a call is “totally irresponsible” and “incompatible with the aims of the PCSP”.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said Mr Connolly should retract the comments and explain himself, of he should be removed from his post.

“There is a total and utter inconsistency between membership of a Police and Community Safety Partnership and asking for a vicious and brutal terror machine to be brought back,” Mr Campbell said.

Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton added: “Mr Connolly must make a full apology for the comments he made. No right minded person should seek the return of any proscribed organisation.”

When contacted by the News Letter, Mr Connolly declined to comment, other than to say: “I made the comment on Facebook, so I will just be putting a response back on Facebook over the weekend.”