CM – Sinn Féins Eoin Ó Broin feels comfortable commemorating the IRA man whose fire bomb burned a woman alive in front of a child who brought her to safety

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Senan Molony

SINN Féin Housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin is at ease with his celebration to commemorate an IRA man whose fire bomb burned a woman alive in front of the child she left at the last moment to safety.

The party posted a weekend video on social media honoring Thomas McElwee, who died on hunger strike 40 years ago in Maze Prison after being denied food for 62 days.

The video didn’t mention that McElwee was convicted of the murder of Yvonne Dunlop, a 26-year-old mother, when an incendiary bomb destroyed her Alley Katz clothing store in Ballymena. The conviction was reduced to manslaughter on appeal.

Mr Ó Broin said today that all sides should be allowed to honor their war dead, but that any glorification or future defense of future conflict events would be wrong.

But he added that Fenian Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa « invented the idea of ​​urban guerrilla warfare, or as many people would call it, urban terrorism. »

« Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Labor Party all commemorate the people who have actively used violence in the struggle for Irish freedom over the past century.

« All communities, both in the north and across the island, have the right to commemorate those who died during the conflict.

« This poses great challenges, because when a community commemorates a deceased – for example on a hunger strike – it can cause pain and grief for the families who have been victims of the IRA violence.

 » This is m e very aware. And I think if we are organizing memorial services, and that is for everyone, not just Republicans, we have to try to do it in a sensible way. ”But he said families who lost loved ones during the conflict,“ including the families of IRA volunteers, “would have a right to remembrance and commemoration, as would other families.

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“It’s not easy, but I think it’s just a fact of life. So do I feel comfortable commemorating (by Thomas McElwee)? Yes. Have I attended commemorations like this in the past? Yes.

« But I would like to urge everyone who organizes commemorations like this to be aware that comforting one family can harm another, and as a society we have to find a way to balance this appropriately », he said. When asked whether the ranks of the party would in future tolerate people who chanted “Oh, ah, high the Ra” on video, he said: “The people shouldn’t do that. It is on record that I said this because I lived in North Belfast and represented a community that suffered the greatest loss of life during the conflict and worked directly with families who have been victims of IRA violence, state Violence and loyalist paramilitary violence became.

“We have to find suitable ways. So do I think this behavior is appropriate? No, I do not do it. And anyone, whether it is a representative elected by Sinn Féin or anyone else, should not get involved. That does not mean, however, that families and communities should not have the right to remember loved ones who died during the conflict.

“I absolutely believe that we have a right, the hunger striker or any other member of our community to commemorate those who died during the conflict. « 

Mr Ó Broin said he did not mention that President O’Donovan Rossa laid a wreath to be smooth.

 » I say just that it happens regularly, and either we accept that all parts of the community have the right to commemorate and celebrate, or we don’t.

« And if we accept that it does, so I believe that this right extends to, for example, the loyalist paramilitaries who fell during the conflict, British soldiers and members of the RUC, and the majority of civilians killed. « He added: » To pretend I am not starving Commemorating ikenden who are an important part of our political tradition would, in my opinion, be simply dishonest. We have to find a way to deal with these issues sensitively and compassionately. «  » When I say that we have to do these things compassionately and carefully, I mean it sincerely. « 

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