Row erupts over Sinn Féin '˜Craigavon Two' '¨prison visit

A political row has erupted over a visit by a Sinn Fein delegation with Brendan McConville, one of two men convicted of the murder of police constable Stephen Carroll.

Tuesday, 13th September 2016, 5:22 pm
Updated Tuesday, 4th October 2016, 2:08 pm
Brendan McConville

The murdered man’s widow hit out at the visit as did local DUP representatives.

Kate Carroll said: “Whenever I heard the news about it, I just felt that even after seven and a half years we are still being terrorised as a family,

“It has been ongoing since Stephen’s murder and it is as if something is popping its head up every month and it is soul destroying for us as a family.

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David Simpson.

“We just think when is Stephen going to be allowed to rest in peace? When are we ever going to get peace?

“At the minute it looks as if Sinn Féin are trying to placate the dissidents by standing by them and the victims of the so-called cause we seem to be at the bottom of the pile.”

While Sinn Fein highlighted concerns over the conviction of McConville and co-accused John Paul Wooton, DUP MP David Simpson had his concerns over the visit itself.

Sinn Féin Justice Committee members Michaela Boyle, Pat Sheehan and Declan Kearney visited Maghaberry prison to get what they described as ‘an insight in relation to the current prison environment’.

David Simpson.

A spokesman said: “We also met Brendan McConville who provided us with an update on the Justice for the Craigavon Two campaign. We discussed the serious concerns, which exist in relation to the convictions of Brendan and his co-accused John Paul Wootton.”

However, Upper Bann DUP MP David Simpson expressed ‘disgust’ at the visit: “This news will be traumatic for the family of Constable Stephen Carroll. These men are in prison for the murder of an innocent man who was simply doing his job.

“I would raise concerns that Sinn Fein has visited these men in prison, as it only endorses what they have done. Murder is murder. McConville and Wootton cause pain to the victims’ families on a daily basis, as the Carroll family in particular, come to terms without having Stephen at their side.”

Responding to the criticisms Sinn Féin said it ‘believes that the killing of Constable Stephen Carroll was wrong and unjustifiable’.

They said: “We acknowledge and understand the deep loss Kate Carroll has experienced and our sympathies are with her and her family. We support her right to justice.

“However, those who have been convicted, and their legal representatives have raised serious concerns and questions over the reliability of their convictions.”