TUV condemns Michelle O’Neill’s attendance at IRA commemoration

Jim Allister predicts Republic may follow United Kingdom out of the European Union

The Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) leader Jim Allister has rounded on Sinn Féin's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill over her decision to attend an event on Thursday night honouring four IRA men shot dead by the British army.

When launching his party's manifesto in Belfast on Thursday Mr Allister said it was "appalling" that Ms O'Neill was the main speaker at the event in her native Clonoe in Co Tyrone.

Kevin Barry O'Donnell (21), Sean O'Farrell (23), Peter Clancy (19) and Daniel Patrick Vincent (20), all from Co Tyrone, were killed in an SAS ambush in Clonoe 25 years ago on February 16th 1992.

The IRA members had earlier mounted a machine-gun attack on nearby Coalisland RUC station. No one was injured in that incident. Republicans suspected that the men were set up by an informer.


Criticising her attendance Mr Allister said: “It is dancing on the graves of the innocent victims of the IRA campaign by a Sinn Féin leader and glorifying those terrorists who met their just desserts at the hands of the SAS in 1992 by whose actions many future lives were saved because wicked, violent murderous terrorists met their just desserts.”

It also spoke “volumes of the amoral state of politics that’s betokened by Sinn Féin”, he added.

A Sinn Féin spokesman speaking before the event said the commemoration was being “carried out in a respectful and dignified manner to remember the four young local men and to importantly show community solidarity with their families, friends and neighbours”.

At the TUV manifesto launch Mr Allister also said that it should be the Republic and not Northern Ireland that should be seeking special European Union status because of Brexit.

He said the people of Britain and Northern Ireland would have a “glorious” future out of the EU and predicted that the Republic eventually might follow the UK’s lead.

“I do think that in time, as Brexit proves to be the success that it will be, that our neighbours, though it will be a matter entirely for them, will come to see the wisdom of following us out of the EU and pursuing growth in parts of the world where the trade now is,” said Mr Allister.

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty

Gerry Moriarty is the former Northern editor of The Irish Times