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Sinn Fein event for Official IRA members shot dead by British Army causes DUP outrage

Posters advertising the event, and a ‘Tyrone Volunteers Day’ were put up over the weekend in Pomeroy, angering DUP MLA Keith Buchanan

The Sinn Fein poster

Keith Buchanan

Official IRA member John Patrick Mullan

Hugh Heron, who was in the Official IRA, was also shot dead by soldiers

Ciaran BarnesSunday Life

A Sinn Fein commemoration for two republicans shot dead by the British Army in Co Tyrone has been criticised by the DUP.

The memorial for Hugh Heron and John Patrick Mullan will take place in the village of Ardboe on October 15. The pair were killed while sitting in a car outside St Patrick’s Hall.

At the time of their deaths the men were members of the Official IRA, which has a fraught relationship with Sinn Fein and which has violently feuded with the Provisional IRA.

Posters advertising the event, and a ‘Tyrone Volunteers Day’ were put up over the weekend in Pomeroy, angering DUP MLA Keith Buchanan.

Keith Buchanan

He said: “To erect posters for this event in Pomeroy where the PIRA systematically targeted Protestants under the Jim Lynagh / Paddy McKearney strategy is heartless and offensive to those families who still mourn their loved one’s death.

“The PIRA in Tyrone which Sinn Fein is celebrating at this event, is single-handedly responsible for the deaths of more Tyrone people than any other organisation.

“Scores of people of all faiths and none are in their graves today because the East Tyrone brigade either murdered them or sent them to their death.”

Official IRA member John Patrick Mullan

Mr Buchanan accused Sinn Fein and its Northern leader Michelle O’Neill, an MLA for the area, of “attempting to rewrite history in an effort to immortalise terrorist killers as heroes”.

He added: “The irony of Sinn Fein celebrating people like Jim Lynagh, is that Lynagh met the SAS because he was betrayed by very high-level informers in the republican leadership.”

A Sinn Fein spokesperson accused the DUP of attempting to deflect attention from the party's boycott of the Stormont Executive during the cost-of-living crisis.

They added: “Everyone has a right to remember their dead with dignity and respect under the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Fein will continue to honour our patriot dead.”

Meanwhile a Dungannon councillor who wrongly claimed a Gaelic football tournament was linked to an IRA hunger striker has said he will “not be apologising to the GAA”.

Hugh Heron, who was in the Official IRA, was also shot dead by soldiers

Clement Cuthbertson was speaking at a meeting at Mid-Ulster District Council, and was subsequently cut off by the council’s chair, Sinn Fein councillor Cora Corry.

At the council’s monthly meeting this week, Mr Cuthbertson was invited to apologise for remarks he made on social media in August claiming “the GAA still idolises convicted terrorists”.

His comments were made in relation to the Francie Hughes Memorial Tournament for young children. The tournament is named after the highly-regarded former chairman of Coalisland Na Fianna who shares his name with a 1981 IRA hunger striker.

But Mr Cuthbertson said he would not be apologising and referenced footage from two years ago, shared on social media, which appeared to show people in Dungannon Thomas Clarkes GAA tops flouting social distancing guidelines in place at the time and allegedly using sectarian language.

“I will not be apologising to the GAA. The GAA continually idolise terrorists, should that be in recent years, or 100 years ago,” said Mr Cuthbertson.

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