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17/02/2017

Michelle O'Neill Attends IRA Commemoration

Sinn Féin's leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill, has attended an event to commemorate four IRA men who were killed by the SAS in Clonoe, Co Tyrone, in 1992.

At the IRA commemoration near Coalisland on Thursday, 16 February, Mrs O'Neill said that there is "no hierarchy of victims".

However, UUP Mid Ulster candidate, Sandra Overend, slammed her appearance at the event and said it is "hardly sending a signal to the unionist community that she is some kind of new departure for Sinn Fein".

Ms Overend said:" Indeed it is just about as far as it is possible to be from 'showing leadership in terms of reconciliation, genuine meaningful reconciliation and healing the hurt of the past'.

"These men were shot after they themselves had opened fired upon Coalisland Police Station with a heavy machine gun mounted on the back of a lorry. These were armed men who had set out to kill any police officers or soldiers who crossed their path. They were by no stretch of the imagination innocent victims, but willing participants in terrorism.
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"If Michelle O'Neill had really wanted to reach out to unionists in a spirit of meaningful reconciliation and attempt to heal the hurt of the past, then the IRA certainly left plenty of victims from one end of this constituency to the other for her to choose from.

"This weekend as always, my thoughts are with the victims of the IRA, not their gunmen."

Meanwhile, DUP Mid Ulster candidate Keith Buchanan accused Mrs O'Neill of "trying to advance a republican agenda".

He said: "One of the key aims of Sinn Fein is to rewrite the history of the past. The current election has been called by Sinn Fein because they think they can exploit the RHI scheme in order to advance Gerry Adams' agenda. That includes the persecution of soldiers and police officers whilst whitewashing the activities of the IRA. It also includes an attempt to increase the number of nationalist MLAs returned to Stormont as an excuse to demand a border poll be called.

"We must not forget that 90% of deaths during the troubles were at the hands of terrorists. Republicans want to exploit the current crisis to see the focus placed entirely on the state and to have soldiers and police officers placed in the dock.

"The election will be close and it is a clear choice between a strong DUP standing up for Northern Ireland and for the victims of terrorism, or a Sinn Fein led government where Gerry Adams will call the shots and push his radical agenda."

(CD)

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