Ian Paisley has said he finds it “incredible” that a member of Sinn Fein has tried to defend an IRA terrorist “like he’s a Sunday school teacher”.
His remarks came in response to criticism from Sinn Fein’s Mickey Brady who said the DUP MP’s comments in the Commons about Colum Marks were “crass and disgusting”.
On Wednesday night Mr Paisley had called for the RUC officers who killed the IRA man in 1991 to be given medals. Mr Brady said Mr Paisley’s comments were “an insult to all those who knew Colum and hold him in high regard”.
He maintained that Mr Marks was unarmed on the night he was shot and said the DUP man’s comments were further attempts from his party to “whitewash the past and it is symptomatic of their abject failure to deal with the legacy of the conflict”.
Talking to the News Letter yesterday Mr Paisley said: “There’s no whitewash here at all, in fact what has happened is that the truth has been exposed in Wednesday night’s debate.
“It highlighted the actual calibre of the individual – Mr Marks – and for someone now to come out and defend him like he’s a Sunday school teacher is incredible.
“The comments are almost laughable, but I suppose I shouldn’t expect anything less.”
Mr Paisley said he was heartened by a letter he received yesterday from a senior An Gardai Siochana officer who served during the period when Mr Marks was a prominent IRA member, saying he agrees entirely with the DUP MP’s remarks.
The DUP man continued: “Colum Marks is no figure to be hailed in the nationalist or republican community. He was a disgrace to them. He perpetuated terrible violence.”
It was confirmed in June 2016 that the police ombudsman was launching a fresh inquiry into the killing of Mr Marks in Downpatrick on April 10, 1991 based on a new eyewitness account.
Lawyers for the family are disputing police claims that Marks was armed and refused to stop when an attempt was made to arrest him, when it was believed he was in the midst of a plan to bomb a police station.
Mr Paisley said there had already been three investigations in which the police officers involved in Mr Marks’s killing were exonerated, adding that the current ombudsman’s inquiry would “run into the sand very quickly”.
He added: “Colum Marks is never, ever, ever going to be exonerated. He will never be anything more than a terrorist who was lawfully killed in action in Northern Ireland.”
Mr Paisley said the end of Colum Marks’s ‘reign of terror’ in Downpatrick helped bring about the peace process.
He said: “His death actually perversely created a foundation stone for the peace process, because him being dispatched with by the RUC so bravely that evening meant that there were no more serious IRA murder attempts in that area.
“The IRA lost their ability to produce and launch mortars in that area. These are the skills Mr Marks gave them.”
Mr Paisley added: “The IRA had to sue for peace.
“Their key operators were being taken out.”