Following her election as Sinn Fein President designate Mary Lou McDonald proclaimed her desire to reach out to the unionist people of Northern Ireland.
These words ring very hollow in South Down as the victims of terrorism in the constituency witness a succession of events aimed at glorifying those who inflicted so much suffering.
The singing of IRA songs in a Mourne GAA club in October was quickly followed by the confirmation of the name of McCreesh Park by Newry, Mourne and Down Council.
Not content with the offence caused by these events, there was a celebration of the Maze escape in a local Community Centre and Ms McDonald recently stood in Castlewellan honouring an IRA terrorist who was killed by his own bomb.
Their latest stunt was last Friday evening’s concert by the band Catalpa in Loughinisland GAA Club. This band’s ‘greatest hit’ is a song which eulogises Bobby Sands.
Do Sinn Fein and their republican ‘friends’ have any idea of the hurt these events and celebrations cause the families of the 70 totally innocent victims of terrorism in South Down? How are the talks to restore devolution going to make progress when republicans plan weekly events which bring back so many painful memories?
This is all in stark contrast to the unionist community who commemorate the memory of those they lost as a result of terrorism with solemnity.
They don’t seek to insult or hurt their nationalist neighbours.
Sinn Fein have told the people of Northern Ireland to ‘move on’ and ‘set aside’ the past. Meanwhile they continue to demand hugely expensive inquiries into the deaths of nationalists and organise a succession of offensive events.
I have no doubt that by the time this letter has been published Sinn Fein will be planning yet another high profile event carefully designed to cause the maximum distress to the community Ms McDonald wants to reach out to.
Jim Wells MLA, DUP, South Down