The Alliance Party leader has slammed a former would-be MP for the party for an extended string of comments about the IRA’s terror campaign.
Gerard Catney, who stood for Alliance in the 2015 Westminster election, entered into a Facebook debate with Naomi Long about claims from Sinn Fein MEP Liadh Ni Riada that ISIS terrorism cannot be compared with that of the IRA.
Mr Catney said: “Terrorism implies indiscriminate killing.
“The IRA went after specific targets, economic and key personnel, as part of its military campaign...
“The conflict was the result of the systematic and institutional discrimination against Catholics in Northern Ireland.”
But Mrs Long responded: “Is this SDLP policy now, Gerard? Because until now they always made a virtue of the fact that they opposed discrimination by purely peaceful means?”
Gerard Catney’s exact relationship with the SDLP was unclear at time of going to print last night.
Continuing the debate with Mrs Long online, Mr Catney responded: “Naomi, I don’t speak for the SDLP. I oppose all unnecessary violence but I draw the line at labelling Catholic freedom fighters ‘Terrorists’.”
Mrs Long replied: “Was Enniskillen indiscriminate? Bloody Friday? The Abercorn?”
She continued: “Has your account been hacked? Or are you actually defending the IRA campaign?”
She added: “You have a warped definition of freedom if you think blowing innocent people to smithereens isn’t the very definition of terror.”
Mr Catney added: “The IRA killed 1,696 people during the troubles. While mistakes were made, the vast majority were targeted killings... the intent was not to cause Terror in the communities.”
Mr Catney did not respond when contacted. Neither the SDLP nor Pat Catney MLA offered any comment.