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.
News Image
"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)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

12 March 2019
IRA Claims Responsibility For London & Glasgow Parcel Bombs
A group calling itself "the IRA" has claimed responsibility for multiple parcel bombs sent to major transport hubs in England and Scotland last week. The packages which contained devices designed to start a small fire were posted to Waterloo railway station, offices at Heathrow and London City airports and the University of Glasgow.
30 January 2019
'The IRA' Claim Responsibility For L'Derry Car Bomb
A group calling itself "the IRA" has claimed responsibility for the bomb attack in L'Derry on Saturday 19 January, in a statement branded "a relic from the past" by the city's Deputy Mayor. The group said it planted the car bomb which detonated in Bishop Street shortly after 8pm, moments after police secured the area.
29 September 2017
Former IRA Members Could Face Prosecution Over Bloody Sunday
Two former members of the Offiicial IRA could face prosecution for their role in the events of Bloody Sunday in L'Derry. A file from the police has been forwarded to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) on one former Official IRA member and another file is being prepared on another ex-member.
15 January 2019
Loyalist Killer Michael Stone Must Spend Longer In Prison
Notorious loyalist killer Michael Stone is to remain in prison until 2024 before he can be considered eligible for release, according to a new High Court ruling. Judges held that the Department of Justice (DoJ) had wrongly determined that the bomber would now be eligible to seek freedom from jail.
22 October 2018
UUP MLA Mocked By DUP For Attending Pope Event
The actions of DUP politicians who mocked an Ulster Unionist MLA for his attendance at a reception for the Pope earlier this year have been condemned.