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Lewis reports South Down Sinn Fein Office to the Equality Commission

Newry Mourne and Down Ulster Unionist Councillor Alan Lewis has written to the Equality Commission’s Chief Commissioner Geraldine McGahey to request that the Commission consider and advise if it is appropriate for a publicly funded Sinn Fein parliamentary advice office to be named in dedication of and display signage honouring the memory of two IRA terrorists.

Councillor Lewis said:

“I accept that this issue has been going on for some time and I am conscious that it has been in the news on a number of occasions. However, for the people of South Down and especially the innocent victims of the IRA, this issue hasn’t gone away. The signage stands as an ever-present insult to the memory of their loved ones and a glorification of terrorists who bombed, shot and maimed their way around this constituency.  As a local Councillor it isn’t within my gift to simply ignore this blatant attempt to glorify terrorism.

“The majority of ordinary, decent, law abiding residents consider Chris Hazzard’s Office to be out of bounds as they rightfully see its naming as an abhorrent abuse of power, and not in keeping with the values and responsibilities which come with his elected position as a Member of the Westminster Parliament.

“The office located at 2 Circular Road, Castlwellan, has been named after terrorists Peter McNulty and Paul Magorrian, both of whom are recorded on the IRA’s so-called ‘roll of honour.’ McNulty blew himself up on 26th January 1972 while attempting to bomb Castlwellan police station, Magorrian was shot by an army unit as he lay in wait to ambush them at Bunkers hill, also in Castlwellan, on 14th August 1974. The circumstances of their deaths are neither debatable nor relevant and I draw your attention to the fact both are described in republican circles as having died on ‘active service.’

“I note that the Equality Commission seeks to provide protection to individuals against discrimination on the grounds of political opinion. The Commission also has responsibilities arising from the Northern Ireland act 1998 in respect of the statutory equality and good relations duties which apply to public authorities. I contend that Mr Hazzard is paid, funded and supported from the public purse in his role as an elected MP and therefore his office and duties should fall under the remit of the Commission and the above referenced legislation.

“As a Member of Parliament Mr Hazzard’s constituency office should be (as any public place) free from paramilitary regalia, and provide an open and neutral environment. I refer to comments from previous Chief Commissioner Mr Michael Wardlow, broadcast on 1st August 2019 on BBC Radio Ulster, when he told the Nolan Show “His office had identified some emblems and symbols which could be considered "sensitive" such as football shirts or paramilitary regalia”. This clearly demonstrates that items linked to paramilitarism are considered under the remit which this office should consider.

“The Equality Commission needs to take decisive action to remedy this matter.” 

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