'controversial' | 

UUP MLA says Michelle O'Neill ‘should withdraw’ no alternative to IRA violence remarks

‘One day Michelle O’Neill is speaking about being a First Minister for everyone. The next she is apparently standing over sectarian and cold-blooded atrocities like Enniskillen, La Mon and Kingsmill.’

Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill's comments have attracted criticism

Kurtis ReidBelfast Telegraph

UUP MLA Tom Elliott has called for Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neil to withdraw her controversial remarks about IRA violence or step back from her political role.

Mr Elliott’s comments come after Ms O’Neill faced criticism from political leaders and IRA victims after she said whilst speaking on the BBC's Red Lines podcast, there was no "an alternative to conflict" when asked about the actions of the Irish Republican Army during The Troubles.

Her remarks were met with a backlash, with DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson saying ‘there was never a justification for violence”

"Even in Northern Ireland’s darkest days the overwhelming majority of our people respected democracy, the rule of law and - where they felt passionately about a particular cause - took part in peaceful protest. Sinn Fein can pretend there was no alternative but they are condemned by the facts," he said.

"One day Michelle O’Neill is speaking about being a First Minister for everyone. The next she is apparently standing over sectarian and cold-blooded atrocities like Enniskillen, La Mon and Kingsmill. The mask has well and truly slipped."

While the DUP leader stopped short of calling for action to be taken against the First Minister designate, Mr Elliott said in a statement “comments and actions as those of Ms O’Neill cannot and should not be accommodated.”

“I’ve considered the comments of the Sinn Fein Vice President, Michelle O’Neill where she said there was ‘no alternative’ to the terrorist murder campaign in Northern Ireland.

"At a time when we hear young people from the nationalist community chanting pro IRA slogans at events and even when passing band parades this is extremely dangerous actions from the now senior Sinn Fein figure.

“When you speak with anyone who has been the subject of a terrorist murder campaign, some of those may have been seriously injured or had a close relative or friend murdered, you understand the unnecessary brutality and waste of innocent life that such campaign brought about.

“For such comments, by what is essentially the First Minister in waiting of Northern Ireland how can the community have confidence in someone who holds such views, which defends that brutal murderous campaign and potentially incites the younger generation into unsavoury actions, or even believe that it is right to be involved in such murder and destruction” said the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA.

He continued to say “unless there is a genuine retraction of those comments Ms O’Neill should step back from her senior political role in order to provide assurance to the innocent victims of terrorism that the terrorist campaign of murder and destruction in Northern Ireland was wrong and cannot be justified.”

Sinn Fein has been contacted for comment.


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