Tom Elliott: ‘Father Sean McManus is in no position to lecture me’

The IRA were not freedom fighters but terrorists
The IRA were not freedom fighters but terrorists

I was intrigued to read a letter published in your paper (August 8) whereby Father Sean McManus called on me to repudiate the “awful bigotry” of the Rev John Gray.

I personally find it rather ironic the Father McManus is the person lecturing me on how I should respond to ‘anti-Catholic’ statements considering his long and well known history and links to support for the IRA and the republican movement.

Father McManus has a history of making comments surrounding the United Kingdom security services, however he fails to mention all of the atrocities committed by the IRA during the Troubles.

Indeed, I recall Father McManus’ words from the past: “I want to state publicly and unequivocally that I am in sympathy with the IRA – indeed sympathy is too weak a word ... The oppressors of Irish freedom call the IRA terrorists and murderers, but I call them by their proper titles; I call them freedom fighters, I call them heroes; and I venerate their dead as martyrs for Ireland.”

This is the same IRA who murdered many Irish as well as British citizens.

To me, these sort of comments show that Father McManus is in no position to direct me on how to respond to statements from another person, his words speak for themselves.

Given that both the citizens of the United States and the United Kingdom have suffered grievously at the hands of terrorists, I think it’s about time that Father McManus put his own house in order by retracting his past comments in support of the terrorism of the IRA before lecturing others.

Tom Elliott, Ulster Unionist MP Fermanagh and South Tyrone

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