McElduff IRA security tweet ‘a joke’

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A Sinn Fein MLA has stood by a joke he made about the IRA providing security for the G8 summit – only four miles from where republicans murdered 12 civilians in 1987 in the Enniskillen bomb.

West Tyrone Assembly member Barry McElduff said on Twitter: “I hear they’re looking Volunteers to protect the G8 in Fermanagh. A bit ironic, don’t you think?”

For republicans the term ‘Volunteer’ normally refers to an IRA member.

“It was meant as tongue-in-cheek and light hearted,” he told the News Letter later. “I am a bit concerned at the narrative in the media that would criminalise the IRA. I don’t criminalise the IRA. What is the difference between a terrorist and a government? The size of their bombs.”

When it was pointed out that the G8 summit is only four miles from where the IRA killed 12 civilians at the Enniskillen bomb in 1987, he replied that IRA member Sean Lynch, now an MLA, was in Fermanagh when he was shot by the Army in 1986.

Kenny Donaldson of Fermanagh terror victims’ group, South East Fermanagh Foundation, responded: “A tongue-in-cheek attitude like this is disgraceful when you are talking about dozens of innocent people who were murdered by the IRA for no other reason than their perceived nationality or religion.”

Stephen Gault, who lost his father in the Enniskillen bomb, described the comments as “deeply insulting”. He added: “It is not that long ago the IRA would have been bombing the G8.”

Also yesterday Ulster People’s Forum chair Jamie Bryson caused outrage after claiming on Twitter that the UVF were not terrorists. “Loyalists were not terrorists. The IRA were the terrorists,” he said, adding: “I would not view the UVF as terrorists no.”

Media commentator Alex Kane replied: “Try telling that to their victims and the families of their victims.”