Young unionist criticises Mary Lou McDonald’s reference to Edgar Graham, the lecturer murdered by the IRA

Ulster Unionist member Stuart Huges from Lisburn in the Peter Froggatt at Queen's University, Belfast, after Mary Lou McDonald TD, president of Sinn Fein, spoke at a civic unionist event at on Monday. Ms McDonald can be seen in the background to the picture. February 18 2019
Ulster Unionist member Stuart Huges from Lisburn in the Peter Froggatt at Queen's University, Belfast, after Mary Lou McDonald TD, president of Sinn Fein, spoke at a civic unionist event at on Monday. Ms McDonald can be seen in the background to the picture. February 18 2019

A young unionist has condemned a reference to Edgar Graham by Mary Lou McDonald in a speech in Belfast.

The Sinn Fein president on Monday mentioned the Ulster Unionist politician Mr Graham, a lawyer and academic who was shot dead by the IRA in 1983 at the edge of Queen’s University.

Edgar Graham, Ulster Unionist MLA and Queen's University lecturer, shot dead at point blank range by the IRA in December 1983 near the university

Edgar Graham, Ulster Unionist MLA and Queen's University lecturer, shot dead at point blank range by the IRA in December 1983 near the university

Mrs McDonald, in her address to ‘civic unionists’ at the university, talked about the killing in a regretful way, but did not condemn it.

The republican TD said: “Queen’s has not been immune from the conflict, pain and loss. It impacted on staff and students.

“Edgar Graham a lecturer was killed by the IRA. Sinn Féin member and Queen’s student Sheena Campbell was killed by loyalists. Her portrait now hangs on the Sinn Féin Offices in Leinster House.

I cannot undo that damage or that loss.”

Mrs McDonald added: “I and my generation of republicans will work tirelessly to build a society in which no other parent is left without a child or a child left without a mammy or daddy.”

It was the latest in a number of incidents in which Sinn Fein politicians have referred to Mr Graham’s murder, but not condemned it. The News Letter has asked a number of republicans if they condemn the shooting, not just regret it, but none has done so (see links below).

Last year, Mr Graham’s sister Anne politely challenged Michelle O’Neill about the murder, after the Sinn Fein MLA gave an address at Queen’s, but she sidestepped the matter of condemnation.

Stuart Hughes, an accountant and member of the Ulster Unionist Party from Lisburn, was in the audience on Monday.

He said: “I think the reference to Edgar Graham was a mere name check in what I thought was quite a meandering address in general.

“You are standing in a building that is a matter of one hundred yards away from the spot where a man who was a respected lawyer, a respected academic and a respected politician was murdered at point blank range, at the age of 29.

“And yet again Sinn Fein have failed to condemn that,”

Mr Hughes added: “And it feels that this is being introduced in a matter of fact way when in fact it is much more important than that.

“Also we constantly see Sinn Fein, indeed last week we saw them meet Leo Varadkar with Pat Finucane’s family, and demand justice for that murder.

“That murder [by loyalists in 1989] was wrong, I’m happy to say that but why can’t Sinn Fein then at the same time condemn the murder of another lawyer and academic, in the same city, who was brutally assassinated.”

• Oct 2018: Sister of Edgar Graham challenges Sinn Fein leader over her brother’s murder by the IRA

• Jun 2017: John Finucane is asked about IRA murder of lawyer

• Feb 2017: Friends of murdered lecturer say SF candidate should clarify stance