Philip Smith, the Ulster Unionist Party’s Strangford candidate, has responded to comments by Sinn Fein’s new leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O’Neill, in which she said that “there is no hierarchy of victims.”
Philip Smith said:
“Today is the 39th anniversary of the IRA bomb attack on the La Mon hotel, which is situated in the Strangford constituency.
“It was one of the most barbaric episodes of the Troubles, in which a fireball killed 12 people and injured 30 others, many of them attending a dinner organised by the Irish Collie Club. A less offensive gathering, it would be hard to imagine.
“Last night Michelle O’Neill spoke at an IRA commemoration in Clonoe near Coalisland to remember four terrorists who were killed in 1992 by the SAS after they had attacked a Police Station with a heavy machine gun in a bid to murder officers. One of her comments in particular struck me, as she said, ‘there is no hierarchy of victims.’
“39 years ago the IRA bombed the La Mon hotel. I simply cannot accept that the people who were murdered that night as they ate their dinner, and who had no say in their fate, are in any way equal to terrorists who chose to join an illegal organisation and who also chose to set out to try to murder Police officers.
“No amount of clever phrases or hand-wringing can disguise the fact that the victims at La Mon were entirely innocent, and the dead at Clonoe were terrorists.
“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.’
“If Michelle O’Neill is serious, she would be well advised to spare a thought for innocent victims like those at La Mon, rather than those who set out to commit murder.”