SDLP ‘refuse to condemn glorification of terror’ in Coleraine

Councillor Trevor Clarke
Councillor Trevor Clarke

Sinn Fein councillors in Coleraine have tabled a motion slamming UVF intimidation of Catholics in Belfast – but the DUP expressed bewilderment that the SDLP declined to support an amendment to include all paramilitary murders in the condemnation.

DUP councillor Trevor Clarke said Sinn Fein brought a motion to a leisure and development committee on Tuesday calling for an end to sectarianism “in the aftermath of the [UVF] intimidation of families from a shared housing development in Cantrell Close Belfast” in October.

Mr Clarke said: “Sinn Fein’s proposal failed to recognise the hypocrisy of an anti-sectarianism motion being presented by a party which in the past was attached to a terrorist wing that carried out some of the vilest sectarian crimes.”

He proposed an amendment affirming the string of rights listed in the original Sinn Fein motion and that “the right to life itself” were denied to thousands of law-abiding citizens “by the sectarian actions of all paramilitaries in unjustified, illegal and immoral terrorist campaigns”. His amendment also called upon everyone in political life to “desist from the practice of eulogising sectarian murderers”.

Mr Clarke said SDLP and Sinn Fein councillors abstained on his amendment, which was carried with the support of all other parties. It goes forward to full council for ratification next week.

“Whilst I’m not surprised Sinn Fein wouldn’t support my amendment, I am bewildered at the refusal of the SDLP to support a call for everyone in political life to desist from the practice of eulogising sectarian murderers,” he added.

But Sinn Fein hit back that it would come as no surprise that political unionism, which ran “an apartheid, discriminatory, sectarian state for over 50 years”, opposed a motion calling for an end to intimidation, sectarianism, intolerance and violence.

The SDLP was invited to comment.