Mary Lou McDonald unable to lecture on IRA violence, victims’ families say

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Relatives of Republican victims have spoken of their disgust after Sinn Fein chairwoman Mary Lou McDonald said there was “no comparison” between the IRA and criminal gangs.

Reege Quinn, whose son Paul was beaten to death in 2007, said his comments were “simply untrue”.

“Killing is killing, no matter who you are or your so-called reasons,” Ms Quinn said.

Oliver McVeigh, whose brother Columba was murdered and secretly buried by the IRA in 1975, called Ms McDonald’s remarks “disgusting”.

The Sinn Fein leader made the comments in a radio interview on Sunday.

She had been asked about a previous statement in which she said she had ‘no time’ for former Sinn Fein councilor Jonathan Dowdall, while former members of the parliamentary party had already been found guilty of terrorist offenses and that his party had a TD in office who served a prison sentence. on explosive charges.

Dowdall was jailed for four years last month for facilitating the murder of David Byrne at Dublin’s Regency Hotel in 2016.

Speaking to Newstalk’s On the Record With Gavan Reilly, Ms McDonald said: ‘I think if we’re going to talk about things that happened during the conflict, that’s one thing, that’s a discussion.

“As someone who represents North Dublin city centre, and who has seen and sees firsthand the damage, the corrosive damage that so-called gangs have caused to communities, there is absolutely no comparison. “

Paul Quinn was beaten to death by a gang of 10 men in a farm shed in Castleblayney, Co Monaghan, in October 2007.

The Quinn family, from South Armagh, blame the IRA for Paul’s murder, which Sinn Fein disputes.

John Grieve of the now disbanded Independent Oversight Commission said immediately after the murder: “We believe those involved…include people who are members or former members, or who have associations with members or former members of the Provisional IRA. .”

Ms Quinn, who has long campaigned for justice for her son’s murder, said: “The IRA killed my son. They knew what they were doing. They planned it and came out and carried out my son’s murder.

“Once someone comes out and takes someone else’s life, like the IRA did with my son, there is no turning back.

“What [Mary Lou McDonald] said is simply not true. Killing is killing and that’s it. These comments are simply untrue. They are simply wrong.

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald during her keynote address at Sinn Fein Ard Fheis

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald during her keynote address at Sinn Fein Ard Fheis

Columba McVeigh’s family also expressed anger over the comments.

Mr McVeigh’s remains were never found, but the search in the Monaghan bogs is expected to resume in the new year after being halted due to weather conditions.

Oliver McVeigh said the Sinn Fein leader was “not in a position” to lecture anyone about IRA violence.

He said: ‘I think what she said is disgusting.

“She’s from the south, she’s never had The Troubles here.

“Ms. McDonald hasn’t suffered like many families here, like my family.

“What she said is just plain wrong, there’s no two ways about it. These people will never change, that’s how they say: a leopard never changes its spots.

DUP MP Diane Forsythe said every murder committed by the IRA was “just as much a crime as a gang murder”.

“When Sinn Fein praises those who committed such acts, they are celebrating and glorifying the same kind of criminals they are trying to distance themselves from today,” she said.

“The Sinn Fein chairman’s comments also carefully ignore the litany of other IRA criminal activity.

“Whether it’s fuel and cigarette smuggling, racketeering and extortion, or thefts committed by the IRA, these are no different from the organized crime gangs operating today.

“Added to this are the multiple reports of rape and sexual abuse both perpetrated and covered up by the IRA.

“The only difference between today’s gang criminals and the Provisional IRA is that they have not mounted a concerted campaign to sanitize, justify and even glorify their criminal enterprises.

“Nor have they received any state-sponsored help in the form of prisoner releases in 1998 or the current UK government amnesty proposals.”

Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie said Ms McDonald was ‘deceived’ if she believed IRA atrocities were not crimes.

“Mary Lou McDonald’s weekend comments that there is no comparison between IRA violence and gang violence were rightly dismissed, as was her assertion that Jonathan Dowdall would not have not been ‘anywhere near’ Sinn Fein if his party had known he was involved in any form of crime,” he added.

“The whitewashing of the IRA’s role in the slaughter of men, women and children and the continued harm and injury inflicted on families is appalling and what we are witnessing is the Disneyfication of murder, seeking to romanticize the brutal crimes.”

The Sinn Fein leader’s comment comes after the party’s deputy chair, Michelle O’Neill, said in August that there was “no alternative” to IRA violence.

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