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'Disgraceful tactic' Martina Anderson's family criticises Sinn Fein over MLA's ‘public humiliation’

The family predicted the party strategy in Derry would backfire as “we do not believe that using a life long Republican as a sacrificial lamb will win back the hearts and minds of republicans in Derry.”

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Derry MLA Martina Anderson.

Derry MLA Martina Anderson.

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson (L) with Michelle O'Neill (R)

Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson (L) with Michelle O'Neill (R)

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Derry MLA Martina Anderson.

The family of Sinn Féin MLA Martina Anderson has launched a stinging attack on her party, after she was told to step down from her Foyle Assembly seat.

In a lengthy post on social media, her family said Ms Anderson had been “publicly humiliated” by the move and that she and fellow MLA Karen Mullan — who was also ordered to stand down — were being unfairly “sacrificed” by her party.

Last week, the two MLAs confirmed they would not contest next year’s Assembly election after a review of Sinn Féin’s structure in Derry.

The decision came from the party leadership following concern over recent disappointing election results in the city.

The statement on Facebook — entitled ‘Breaking the Silence’ — began: “We the Anderson Family in Derry have not commented on the brutal way that our loving sister Martina Anderson MLA has been publicly humiliated and asked to stand down by Sinn Fein, a party she loves and has helped to build.”

It said Ms Anderson had asked her family not to comment on social media on events “that have crushed her”.

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Derry MLA Martina Anderson.

Derry MLA Martina Anderson.

Derry MLA Martina Anderson.

Despite this, the family said that they felt compelled to speak out against their sister’s treatment.

“We believe Martina and Karen are being sacrificed by the party, used by this SF leadership because Martina and Karen are the public face and are being castigated in an attempt to win back support,” it said.

The family predicted the party strategy in Derry would backfire as “we do not believe that using a life long Republican as a sacrificial lamb will win back the hearts and minds of republicans in Derry.”

Referencing the late deputy First Minister and Derry man Martin McGuinness, the Anderson family said “he would never have allowed this disgraceful tactic to be deployed. Martina had the privilege of being his junior minister. He knew her well and valued her worth.”

Recalling Ms Anderson’s lifelong dedication to Sinn Féin, they noted she had been held in four jails; Armagh, Brixton, Durham and Maghaberry.

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“She spent almost 14 years in prison, most of those years in English jails subjected to appalling prison conditions, jailed in a cockroach infested prison and strip-searched six times a day,” they said.

They added that Ms Anderson, jailed for her role in IRA bombings, had also been a fugitive from the authorities for six years before serving as Sinn Féin MEP for over seven years.

“Martina is a workhorse for this struggle and we as a family have watched her put it in front of everyone and everything.”

The Anderson family said they were now calling on the wider republican family in Derry and beyond “to reject the way this SF leadership has publicly (humiliated) our sister Martina and Karen”.

“The British could not do to our Martina what her comrades and friends have done,” the family said.

Responding to the accusations of ill treatment, a Sinn Féin spokesperson said: “Sinn Féin carried out a party review in the Foyle constituency.

“An electoral strategy group is now overseeing preparations for the Assembly elections. Karen Mullan and Martina Anderson have indicated that they will not be running again for re-election.”

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