Sinn Fein has been accused of hypocrisy over its calls for the release of John Downey, who has been charged with the murders of two UDR soldiers.
UUP MLA Doug Beattie accused Sinn Fein of “playing fast and loose with the justice system” after several senior Sinn Fein members expressed support for Mr Downey outside Omagh Magistrates’ Court on Saturday.
Downey was first detained in the Republic of Ireland in October 2018 under a European arrest warrant and, after losing an appeal against extradition, he handed himself in to Irish police on Friday.
He is charged with the murders of UDR soldiers Alfred Johnston, a 32-year-old father of four, and James Eames 33, a father of three, in a bomb attack in Enniskillen in 1972.
Sinn Fein MP Francie Molloy, speaking outside the court on Saturday, said: “It’s a very clear act of bad faith by the British government again. He should be in Donegal with his family, at home.
“We now have this vindictive action here by the British government.”
Mr Beattie said: “Sinn Fein is playing fast and loose with the justice system. Given the number of senior Sinn Fein members who came out in regards to the Downey issue, it is absolutely clear to me that they have been ordered to do so by people higher than them.
“It is absolutely clear that Sinn Fein’s call for truth and justice is really a call for truth and justice for those killed by the state while ignoring the majority of victims caused by an organisation – the Provisional IRA – they supported and continue to excuse.”
He added: “If there was ever evidence that Sinn Fein are not to be trusted on legacy then here it is. Every time the spotlight is shone in the direction of their rabid partners, the PIRA, Sinn Fein will come out of their corner swinging.”