Paramilitary figures ‘defile’ remembrance events: Enniskillen victim

Martin McGuinness (centre) stands as the National Anthem is sung at the Stormont service on Wednesday. Picture: BBC
Martin McGuinness (centre) stands as the National Anthem is sung at the Stormont service on Wednesday. Picture: BBC

The attendance of paramilitary-linked figures at remembrance events “defiles” the occasion.

That is the claim from Aileen Quinton, whose mother was killed in the 1987 IRA Poppy Day bombing.

She was speaking in the wake of the Remembrance service at Stormont, which was attended by Sinn Fein but which also saw an impromptu rendition of the National Anthem sung.

She said this week’s events had been “ridiculous”.

She added: “The fact is that Martin McGuinness was standing in remembrance for many service personnel, including those killed by the organisation he led – the IRA.

“Sinn Fein’s presence at such events could be taken much more seriously if they were to clearly state that their terrorist campaign was completely wrong.

“I feel exactly the same way about Billy Hutchinson attending remembrance events, and UDA wreaths being laid. It is all the same – they all defile the occasion.”

Kenny Donaldson of campaign group Innocent Victims United said that until loyalists and republicans stop justifying terrorism, victims “will not applaud them” attending remembrance events.

Trevor Ringland, former co-chairman of the NI Conservatives, said the event at Stormont had been “badly choreographed”, and that nationalists should have been given time to exit before the National Anthem if they so desired.

“I always stand for the Soldiers Song at every GAA match I am invited to, which I also did many times when playing rugby for Ireland,” he said.

The former British and Irish Lion said neither Sinn Fein nor the SDLP have yet come up with “a definition of Irishness which would respect and preserve my Britishness within a united Ireland”.