South Down Ulster Unionist Alan Lewis has slammed a Sinn Fein organised terrorist commemoration event taking place in Castlewellan. The South Down town will host the annual Hunger Striker Commemorations from Sunday 28th July, culminating in a parade on Sunday 5th August. Sinn Fein president Mary Lou MacDonald is due to give the key note address.
Mr Lewis said:
“I call on the organisers to reflect upon the feelings of innocent victims. Fifty five percent of Troubles related killings within South Down were attributed to the Provisional IRA. Such commemorations belong in the past. Surely republicans are aware that many local victims will be retraumatised by such an event. It seems that equality and respect are political buzz words adapted as part of the trojan horse charm offensive, the reality is very different. What we are seeing in Castlewellan is the true face of republicanism, the unpolished reality and glorification of unrepentant terrorism.
“I ask what has Chris Hazard actually done for South Down since he has been elected? We all know he doesn’t take his seat in Westminster and it seems he allocates his time to attending events and memorials which glorify acts of terrorism. I trust the nationalist voters of South Down will reflect on their vote come the next election. It’s not surprising that Sinn Fein president Mary Lou MacDonald will give the key note address - her time would be better spent apologising to the innocent victims of Provo terrorism. The electorate in the Republic of Ireland must face the uncomfortable reality that Sinn Fein aren’t socialist revolutionaries; they’re unashamed terrorist apologists.”
“Many murals, banners and distorted literature portray the hunger strikers as great Irish warriors, but this narrative is far displaced from the actual brutal reality of their terrorist convictions. Bobby Sands the bomber, Raymond McCreesh the gunman, Francis Hughes the murderer, the list goes on. The activities of all ten men are far from heroic, certainly nothing that should be celebrated in a busy town on a Sunday afternoon.
“Newry, Mourne & Down Council have a comprehensive plan to boost tourism in our district. The hospitality sector relies on summer trade and increased tourist footfall. However it’s an unfortunate reality that many local traders are dreading the fact that South Down is playing host to this type of grotesque event. I call on the organisers to reflect, remove this type of triumphalist signage and scale back planned events and demonstrations for the greater good of all within our district.”