16/08/2019

Outrage As SF Mayor Praises IRA Killer

A tweet posted by the Mayor of Causeway Coast & Glen's Council in which he appears to eulogise an IRA killer has sparked outrage from the unionist community.

Councillor Sean Bateson praised the convicted murderer and hunger striker Thomas McElwee on the 38th anniversary of his death.

He posted: "Oh gallant South Derry you are forever blessed. In the struggle for freedom you have given your best. There's Hughes and there's Bateson, Sheridan & Lee and inscribed with their names now brave Tom McElwee."

Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann hit out at the Mayor for implying that McElwee, who planted a bomb in Ballymena in October 1976 that murdered a young woman, is "brave".

The north Antrim MLA called for Mr Bateson's resignation. He said: "McElwee was caught, tried and imprisoned and whilst in jail he joined the 1981 Hunger Strike.
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"To see a Mayor praise the actions of such a man is yet another example of Sinn Fein mocking and disrespecting innocent victims. He has proved he cannot be a Mayor for all the citizens of Causeway Coast & Glens and should step down from the post before he causes any more offence.   

"Tom McElwee was many things, but brave was not one of them. We must never forget that Thomas McElwee got to choose the timing and manner of his death, Yvonne Dunlop, like the rest of the IRA's victims, was given no choice."

The issue is expected to be debated at the next meeting of Causeway Cost & Glens Borough Council.

Mr Bateson, a history teacher in the area, defended his tweet as his right to commemorate the dead from his community.

"There will never be a one size fits all narrative of our conflict," he said today.

"It is exactly this understanding which allows me to respect those that hold a Unionist and British interpretation.

"However, the same applies for myself. My interpretation is from a republican perspective. I attend and will continue to attend republican commemorations which honour and remember those men and women who I believe died in the cause for Irish Freedom. They are held with the utmost dignity and respect."



(JG/CM)

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