During a finance committee meeting last week, Sinn Fein MLA Maolíosa McHugh interrupted proceedings to ask the assembly clerk if he would investigate whether it was permitted for TUV leader Jim Allister to have the UDR book on display, Conspicuous Gallantry by Anthony Leask.
“Workplaces should be neutral spaces,” Mr McHugh said of the incident last week. “Nobody should be made to feel uncomfortable in their workplace. The role and record of the UDR is one of violent state-sponsored sectarianism. Mr Allister’s prominent display of this book during a Committee meeting had the very real potential to cause offense to the many victims of this now disbanded force.”
Reference work Lost Lives says the UDR was resposnible for eight deaths during the Troubles while the IRA murdered 1781.
Mr Allister responded that as he was working remotely “frankly the contents of my study are none of his business”. However, over the weekend several images have emerged apparently showing Sinn Fein representatives making video calls with non-neutral backgrounds.
One image appears to show Mr McHugh with a republican display on the wall behind him while another appears to show Belfast City Sinn Fein Councillor Seanna Walsh with a photograph of high profile IRA bomber Mairead Farell on the wall behind him.
Commenting on the images, Mr Allister claimed that Sinn Fein were not holding to their own standards of neutral backgrounds.
“It is rank hypocrisy for someone who himself has apparently displayed overtly republican memorabilia during a zoom call to complain about a book detailing the valour of the UDR in Jim Allister’s study,” he said of Mr McHugh.
“Mr McHugh’s objection to a copy of Conspicuous Gallantry by Anthony Leask’s being in my study seems all the more outrageous and bizarre when one considers Seanna Walsh’s choice to have a picture of convicted IRA terrorist Mairead Farrell on his wall, who was convicted of attempting to bomb a hotel before she was shot because of attempt to attack soldiers in Gibraltar.
“It is telling that while Sinn Fein have no difficulty displaying their so-called ‘heroes’ on a zoom call yet object to a book which contains a truthful account of their blood-soaked past and shameful record against the gallant men and women of the UDR.”
“While on one level I understand the reaction of those who would roll their eyes at Mr McHugh’s conduct last week it is a telling insight into how Republicans want to control the narrative of what happened during their terrorist campaign. Sinn Fein, Mr McHugh and Mr Walsh were all invited to respond.
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