QUB Students Union President in row over IRA Facebook posts
Students at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) have described feeling ‘saddened and unwelcome’ after finding the incoming Students Union (SU) President has endorsed or made a series of Facebook posts about the IRA.
Grian Ní Dhaimhín was this week elected to be the new President of the QUB SU.
However politics student Calvin Reid from Markethill told the News Letter that what he found on her Facebook site made him feel that nothing has changed since QUB law lecturer and UUP MLA Edgar Graham was murdered by the IRA near his office in 1983.
Screenshots from Ms Ní Dhaimhín’s Facebook account show that she had;
* Posted an article about a rap band which chanted, ‘Get the Brits out now’. She commented: “Thank f*** I was there....Tiocfaidh ar la”.
* Wrote “Hup Strabane” over a photo of graffiti which said: “Xmas is balls, F*** Santa, IRA”.
* ‘Liked’ a post put on her page by a friend which showed a photo of a masked woman with an Armalite.
* ‘Liked’ a post put on her page wishing her good luck for the election, which carried a motiff entitled ‘women of Ireland’ with a silhouette of women holding Armalites.
* Shared on her own Facebook page a post by the Tyrone Sinn Fein Commemorations Committee for three IRA members shot by the SAS.
Mr Reid said he and his friends were “very concerned and saddened,” by the revelation. “I think it is totally insensitive for somebody in such a position to so flagrantly endorse something that causes so much hurt in my community,” he said.
He is involved in the Edgar Graham memorial ceremony and is also chair of the QUB Orange Society.
“When Edgar Graham was shot it was well documented that there was shouts and cheers in the SU when the news came through. For me it just suggests that nothing has changed over the last 40 years. It seems to me that resentment and hatred for my identity is still prevalent within the university,” he added.
Nathan Horbury, a politics student from London said he had been courted to study at QUB. “So I came with a really open mind and I was really excited by it. But there are certain things that I have seen that genuinely make me feel really unwelcome. The first was the ‘Brits Out’ poster displayed by QUB Sinn Fein at the Freshers Fair. And now we have the election of this new SU President.”
Ms Ní Dhaimhín did not offer any comment after being contacted by the News Letter.
The current President of the QUB SU said he had no comment to make about the incoming president’s comments relating to the IRA.
Connor Veighey, who was sent copies of Ms Ní Dhaimhín Facebook posts by email, said the university had issued a statement instead of the SU.
The News Letter put it to him that an English student felt very hurt that the SU did not condemn the ‘Brits Out’ poster displayed by QUB Sinn Fein at the last Freshers Fair.
Mr Veighey responded that the SU had released a statement about the ‘Brits Outs’ poster at the time. But when the News Letter put it to him that the SU statement had not condemned the poster, he replied: “That story was six months ago. I don’t see why you are bringing it up now?”
The News Letter put it to him that both matters appear to display support for the IRA. At that point he hung up.
TUV leader Jim Allister said: “For some time I have been concerned about the chill factors when it comes to encouraging students from a Unionist background to come to QUB. When the SU president glorifies the actions of the Provisional IRA - an organisation which slaughtered people for no other reason than the fact that they were Protestants - are we really surprised that Queen’s has difficulty attracting Protestant students?”
Despite Ms Ní Dhaimhín penning a number of posts on the QUB Sinn Fein blog, Sinn Fein insisted she is not a member. A party spokesman said she had been elected by the student body “and has a mandate to represent the interests of all members of the Students Union. We congratulate her on her election and wish her every success in the year ahead.”
A QUB spokeswoman said Ms Dhaimhín will take up her post on 1 July: “Once in post, the SU President, as with all Student Officers, is required to adhere to a Student Officer Protocol, detailed in the Constitution of the SU, which details responsibilities and conduct relating to their role.”