Sinn Fein has no plans to say sorry for MEP Martina Anderson’s appearance at a library in a loyalist estate in east Belfast on Saturday.
There was considerable unrest in the community when it emerged the convicted IRA bomber had been in Tullycarnet Library for an arts event, a week after she gave an inflammatory speech at a hunger strikers commemoration.
Several windows were broken at the library on Saturday night following the Sinn Fein MEP’s visit. A public meeting to discuss her visit was held on Monday night in the estate.
Yesterday Belfast unionists Tom Haire (DUP), John Hussey (DUP), Jim Rodgers (UUP), Sonia Copeland (UUP) and John Kyle (PUP) demanded an apology.
They said: “Martina Anderson arrived unannounced, accompanied by a camera crew and entered the building quoting Bobby Sands.
“Martina Anderson has a long history of treating unionists and unionist aspirations with contempt. Her behaviour and comments the previous week at the hunger strike commemoration were sectarian and gratuitously provocative. She will have known that her comments were deeply offensive to the community in Tullycarnet but made no attempt to contact community representatives.”
It went on: “Tullycarnet is a proud, cohesive and caring community which, in recent years, has been building cross-community relations. Martina Anderson’s cheap publicity stunt has been deeply damaging. The community feel that they have been used and treated disrespectfully. They are justifiably angry.
“Sinn Fein must provide a full explanation and apology for their actions. Their talk of equality, respect and reconciliation is hypocritical and rings hollow after this incident which has seriously damaged community relations.”
When the party was asked if it would be apologising to the unionist community for Ms Anderson’s actions, a spokesperson replied: “Martina Anderson was invited to an event as part of the Eastside Arts Festival promoting peace and reconciliation and was happy to attend and take part.
“Martina Anderson was democratically elected to the European Parliament to represent everyone in the north and regularly engages with people from all communities and backgrounds.”