| 7°C Dublin

tensions high Deputy First minister criticises cops after Sean Graham massacre victim arrested at commemoration

Mark Sykes, who was shot several times in the attack, was arrested on suspicion of disorderly behaviour before being taken to Musgrave Street police station, before being released later in the day.

Close

Mark Sykes being arrested at the Sean Graham bookies massacre commemoration

Mark Sykes being arrested at the Sean Graham bookies massacre commemoration

Mark Sykes being arrested at the Sean Graham bookies massacre commemoration

Deputy First Minister, Michelle O’Neill, has hit out at the PSNI following the arrest of one of the victims of the Sean Graham bookies massacre at a commemorative event yesterday.

Mark Sykes, who was shot several times in the attack, was arrested on suspicion of disorderly behaviour before being taken to Musgrave Street police station, before being released later in the day.

In a statement, the Chief Constable said the crowd had initially been approached by police to talk about Covid-19 regulations.

Videos and images of Mr Sykes’ arrest circulated widely on social media yesterday sparking anger from people from all communities in Ulster who criticised the police’s handling of the situation.

Michelle O'Neill said that she has requested a meeting with the Chief Constable to discuss the response to the "awful scenes".

She added: “The man was arrested at an event to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the Massacre, in which five people including a child were killed by loyalist gunmen using weapons brought into Ireland by a British agent.

“The arrest by the PSNI of this man who was at a wreath laying ceremony attended by family members of those killed has caused unprecedented anger and distress across the community.

“The PSNI’s response tonight (Thursday) is inadequate. It further adds insult to injury to the families of the victims who have been waiting almost three decades for truth about the deaths of their loved ones.

“I have also contacted the families and am seeking to meet with them as soon as possible.

“The Chief Constable needs to understand the damage that the actions of his officers today has had on community confidence in policing.

“This standard of policing is not acceptable and should not be acceptable to any section of this community.”

Yesterday marked the 29th anniversary of the attack.

On February 5, 1992, two men wearing boiler suits entered the Ormeau Road bookies shop armed with an assault rifle and pistol.

They fired 44 shots into the packed room, murdering five people.

They were William McManus (54), James Kennedy (15), Peter Magee (18), Christy Doherty (52) and Jack Duffin (66).

The UDA later claimed responsibility for the attack saying that it had been in retaliation for the IRA's Teebane bombing in County Tyrone a few weeks earlier in which six Protestant tradesmen were murdered as they made their way to work.

After he was released from Musgrave Street police station Mr Sykes’ lawyer said that the incident had "wreaked havoc on community relations both on the Ormeau Road and in the wider community".

In a statement, justice minister Naomi Long said: “This was always going to be a painful and difficult day for the survivors and the families of those murdered at Sean Graham’s bookmakers. Our thoughts are with them as they continue to grieve the loss of their loved ones on this 29th anniversary.

“I understand why the events this afternoon have left emotions running high. However, we now need calm and cool heads to prevail.

“As I have said publicly many times, funerals and memorials are particularly sensitive when it comes to enforcement of the Coronavirus regulations which, at their core, are designed to keep people safe and save lives.

“Policing is an incredibly difficult job at the best of times but is even more so during this pandemic. It is therefore important that as a community we all continue to try our best to work together through these challenges.

“Where there are concerns or frustrations in relation to police actions, those should be channeled through the Patten accountability structures of the Policing Board and the Police Ombudsman, designed specifically to ensure impartial and independent oversight.”

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors


Privacy