UUP attack John McCallister over Sinn Fein event

John McAllister pictured on the steps of Stormont
John McAllister pictured on the steps of Stormont

South Down UUP councillors have slammed their former party colleague John McCallister MLA for co-sponsoring a Sinn Fein event at Stormont.

Newly-elected MP for Mid Ulster Francie Molloy chaired the Easter Rising commemoration in one of his last duties as an MLA while Sinn Féin Vice-President Mary Lou McDonald TD was guest speaker.

The Banbridge Leader reported a statement from Ulster Unionist councillors Glenn Barr, Elizabeth Ingram, John Hanna, Harold McKee, David Taylor, Andy Moffett, Robert Burgess, Walter Lyons and Dessie Patterson, which said: “Not long ago Mr McCallister rightly criticised the SDLP for rowing in behind Sinn Fein over matters such as the naming of a children’s playpark in Newry after Raymond McCreesh, but here he now rows in behind Sinn Fein to enable them to celebrate their warped version of history.

“The Ulster Unionist Councillor group were all equally surprised and deeply disappointed to learn that John McCallister co-sponsored a Sinn Fein event to commemorate the Easter Rising.

“It seems strange that a so-called unionist would give their signature to enable an event to take place in Stormont featuring songs and poems celebrating rebellion and attacks on British Soldiers.”

Mr McCallister, an independent MLA who left the UUP in February, responded that every event in Parliament Buildings needs a unionist and nationalist MLA sponsor.

“I am proud of the very wide range of groups I personally have hosted at Stormont, including South Down UUP events. On each occasion I have required the sponsorship of a nationalist MLA to facilitate this. The co-operation of these nationalist MLAs have allowed me to host local Royal British Legion, UDR Associations and various award-winning bands at Parliament Buildings.”

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Banbridge Leader