Unionist outrage over McGuinness’s posters

Martin McGuinness election boards on High Street, Omagh.
Martin McGuinness election boards on High Street, Omagh.
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ANGRY unionists in Omagh have demanded to know why posters relating to Martin McGuinness’ Irish presidential election campaign have been erected in the Tyrone town.

A number of posters of the Sinn Fein man are attached to lampposts along the county town’s High Street — despite voters in the province being unable to vote in the Republic’s contest.

It is believed the promotional election material was erected last week to coincide with a rally Mr McGuinness held at the nearby Strule Arts Centre.

Slamming the presence of the posters in the town centre, DUP councillor Errol Thompson insisted there was “no call” for them being up.

“At the end of the day it is a foreign election — it has nothing to do with Northern Ireland as far as I am concerned and my party is concerned,” he said.

Asked if they should be taken down, Mr Thompson said: “I do not think they have a place here. The election is in the Republic of Ireland and that is where the posters should be.

“People in the town of a unionist persuasion would not be overly keen (at the posters) being up.”

UUP MLA Ross Hussey confirmed he has contacted Roads Service seeking removal of the “illegal” posters.

The assemblyman said a number of concerned constituents have contacted his office regarding the matter.

He added: “I think it is scandalous that they can do this type of thing and take it for granted that they can get away with it.”

When contacted by the News Letter, a spokeswoman for Mr McGuinness’ election campaign said: “Throughout his campaign, Martin McGuinness has said he hopes to be a president for all the people and as a result there is great support for his presidential bid all over this island.

“Last week, at a rally in the Strule Centre in Omagh, over 600 people turned up to support his election bid and to express their excitement at the idea of a president for the 32 counties of Ireland. The erection of the posters may be another manifestation of support.”

She added: “While Irish citizens living in Omagh do not have a vote in this election, many people who have a vote, work, shop or socialise in the area.”

Voters in the south go to the polls on October 27 to elect their new president.

According to the latest opinion polls, Labour’s Michael D Higgins is favourite to succeed outgoing head of state, Mary McAleese.Mr McGuinness stepped down as deputy first minister last month to focus on his campaign.

l Are your aware of McGuinness posters erected elsewhere in Northern Ireland? Contact the News Letter on 028 9089 7721 or email newsdesk@newsletter.co.uk