A Sinn Fein MLA has been slammed for attempting to link the Milltown Cemetery attack to the RUC.
Mairtin O Muilleoir made the claim yesterday during a memorial event for Thomas McErlean, who was killed along with two others when loyalist gunman Michael Stone began lobbing grenades and firing pistols at mourners during a triple IRA funeral in west Belfast in March 1988.
In a tweet during yesterday’s service, former finance minister Mr O Muilleoir posted a photograph of Sinn Fein’s Fra McCann addressing the commemoration.
Below the image, the South Belfast MLA wrote: “Thomas, who was just 20, died protecting mourners from the RUC-UDA attack on the funerals of the Gibraltar Three on 16 March 2018.”
Many twitter users expressed their shock at Mr O Muilleoir’s remarks.
In an interview on BBC’s Good Morning Ulster, the Sinn Fein representative stood by his comments and said he always believed there had been collusion in the cemetery attack.
He added: “I was there that day. There wasn’t one person there that day who didn’t believe collusion with the state was behind the attack. To this day 30 years later that remains my conviction .”
Former RUC Assistant Chief Constable Alan McQuillan slammed the tweet as “yet another attempt to rewrite history”.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, he recalled the events of that day as Stone was arrested within minutes of his attack by traffic police on duty on the M1 motorway.
Stone was convicted of the Milltown attack following an RUC investigation and sentenced to life imprisonment.
Mr McQuillan added: “I happened to be watching the helicopter coverage on that day. Police officers got to Stone as quickly as possible and arrested him.
“He started the attack, he was seen immediately. Police officers were sent to try and get to him as police stayed out of the cemetery that day to facilitate the funeral.”