PSNI chief Hamilton criticised for sharing stage with Sinn Fein

George Hamilton will share a stage with Sinn Fein chairperson Declan Kearney in Londonderry
George Hamilton will share a stage with Sinn Fein chairperson Declan Kearney in Londonderry

The PSNI chief constable will take his place on a panel in Londonderry on Wednesday evening alongside Sinn Fein chairperson Declan Kearney, amid the continuing fallout from the IRA’s involvement in the murder of Kevin McGuigan.

They will be joined by former Victims’ Commissioner Patricia McBride and victims’ campaigner Alan McBride at the event in Clooney Hall at 7.30pm.

Relatives of two victims have spoken out about the chief constable’s decision to sit on the panel at the Gasyard Feile.

The sister of Robert McCartney, who was murdered by republicans in 2005, said George Hamilton should not attend because of the murder of Mr McGuigan.

Catherine McCartney said: “When the chief constable shared a stage with Sinn Fein at the feile, Kevin McGuigan had not been murdered.

“I think the circumstances now have dramatically changed, I think the police have played along with Sinn Fein’s game long enough.”

She added: “We have a situation where Kevin McGuigan has been murdered so I think the chief constable should have reconsidered the invitation in light of that.”

Ms McCartney said she believed that since 1998, maintaining the peace process has taken priority over the investigation of murders by paramilitaries.

“I would hope that the people in the audience are going to put the hard questions to both Sinn Fein and the chief constable. This is a public opportunity to put these hard questions to both.”

Ms McCartney said the fact that the chief constable and Sinn Fein would appear together didn’t give her confidence that the McGuigan family would be treated any differently to hers.

Paul Quinn from Cullyhanna was beaten to death in 2007 when he was 21. His family have blamed the IRA for their son’s murder.

Paul’s mother Breege Quinn said she believed the chief constable has not been clear about the existence of the IRA.

“He seems to be sitting with Sinn Fein a lot, doesn’t he? At this stage I just don’t know, I can’t make head nor tail of any of them.”

Mrs Quinn said the chief constable seemed to be agreeing with Sinn Fein’s assessment of the IRA, despite admitting that the IRA exists.

“If the IRA were gone away when they were supposed to be gone away, my son would not have been murdered,” she added.