The Ulster Unionist Party’s Mid Ulster candidate, Sandra Overend, has hit out at Sinn Fein’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill over her appearance at an IRA commemoration in Clonoe near Coalisland.
Sandra Overend said:
“Shortly after being installed as Sinn Fein’s new leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill said.
I have a job to do and the job I want to be concerned with is the job of leadership, showing leadership in terms of reconciliation, genuine meaningful reconciliation and healing the hurt of the past.”
“These fine words ring rather hollow today, with the news that she is to be the main speaker at an event in the village of Clonoe near Coalisland, as republicans gather to commemorate four IRA men who were killed by the SAS in February 1992.
“It is only to be expected that republicans would wish to remember their dead, but Michelle O’Neill’s presence at such an event is hardly sending a signal to the unionist community that she is some kind of new departure for Sinn Fein. 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.
“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.”