Sinn Fein hunger strike sign '˜beyond sickening'

A victims' campaigner has called for the removal of a hunger strike commemoration sign close to the scene of a massacre carried out by the IRA almost 40 years ago.

Tuesday, 31st July 2018, 6:50 pm
Updated Friday, 31st August 2018, 5:03 pm
UUP South Down representative Alan Lewis beside a sign erected at Narrow Water to advertise Sinn Fein's National Hunger Strike Commemoration in Castlewellan.

South Down Ulster Unionist Alan Lewis said he was “disgusted” to see Sinn Fein had fixed a sign advertising a controversial hunger strike commemoration event to a fence at Narrow Water, Co Down.

The location is not far from where the IRA ambushed and killed 18 British soldiers in two roadside bomb attacks on August 27, 1979.

The National Hunger Strike Commemoration in Castlewellan on Sunday, hosted by South Down Sinn Fein, will mark the 37th anniversary of the hunger strikes in the Maze Prison and is due to be addressed by party president Mary Lou McDonald.

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Mr Lewis accused republicans of “sinking to a new all-time low” and branded the sign and the event it advertises as “grotesque triumphalism”.

“It’s beyond sickening that Sinn Fein have fixed this type of sign at this location,” he added.

“It almost seems as if they are gloating and engaging in the lowest form of coat trailing. Have republicans no shame or compassion?

“There are elements within the republican movement that seem to glorify their murderous campaign.

“What type of message do these signs send out? How will tourists view our district if at every turn they are greeted by republican terrorist propaganda.

“There is no justification for stoking community tensions while insulting the memory of those brave men who were brutally murdered at Narrow Water.”

Mr Lewis said he has raised his concerns with police and is now calling on organisers to remove the sign.

However, while police confirmed they had received a report regarding the sign, a PSNI spokesperson told the News Letter: “No crime has been committed.”

Mr Lewis said he was “disappointed” by the PSNI’s response.

Following the UUP man’s remarks, Sinn Fein councillor Mickey Ruane said: “The names of the hunger strikers are internationally recognised as an inspiration to people struggling for freedom, rights, and human dignity across the world.

“The parade in Castlewellan will remember the unquestionable courage and sacrifice of the hunger strikers with respect and dignity. That is our right under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.

“Alan Lewis needs to accept that the UUP’s Orange state is gone and is never coming back.”