KILREA Apprentice Boys have reacted angrily to claims they have a convicted terrorist in their ranks.
Categorically denying that convicted Greysteel murderer Torrens Knight is a member, they accused Sinn Fin of attempting to demonise their organisation and say they will be looking to the Deputy First Minister to discover the reasons behind the slur.
Sinn Fin councillor Billy Leonard issued a statement alleging that the infamous loyalist killer had laid a wreath in Kilrea on behalf of the Apprentice Boys on Saturday morning.
He claimed that Knight accompanied the parade and then stepped forward at the town's war memorial to lay the single wreath on behalf of the area's Apprentice Boys' Club. The act prompted a lot of concern in Co Derry, scene of some of Knight's most notorious acts, Leonard claimed.
The Coleraine Sinn Fin councillor said: "People who witnessed the act were absolutely amazed that someone like Torrens Knight could be given this role. It puts the Apprentice Boys in a very precarious position when they entrust the laying of a wreath to an icon of loyalist murder gangs who colluded with the security forces.
"People in Greysteel, Kilrea and other parts of Co Derry who lost relatives because of that infamous UFF group will be disgusted that the so called progressive minded Apprentice Boys are associated with Knight and integrate him in such a central way at one of their parades.
"The organisation would really need to look hard at future arrangements if they are to help move things forward in the Kilrea area."
A spokesman for the Kilrea Branch of the Walker Club was clear in his response to the allegation. He told the Times: "The Kilrea Branch of the Walkers Club have never had, and do not have, any loyalist terrorists in their ranks.
"On Saturday morning, as is our tradition, we laid a wreath at the cenotaph in Kilrea in memory of our brethren who died in the wars.The wreath was laid by our branch president, Mervyn Moore, our president for the past five years.
"The Apprentice Boys have been demonised Sinn Fin in the past but on this occasion we are demanding answers. We will be demanding an apology and an explanation for this extraordinary claim from the Deputy First Minister and Sinn Fin."