Comments made by PUP leader Billy Hutchinson about two innocent West Belfast men that he murdered in the 1970s have been described as “disgraceful”.
Mr Hutchinson said this week that the 1974 murders of Edward Morgan and Michael Loughran in the lower Falls helped prevent a united Ireland.
He also suggested that he had “intelligence” on the half-brothers before setting out to murder them.
Edward, 27, and Michael, 18, were shot by the UVF at the junction of the Falls Road and Northumberland Street in October 1974 as they made their way to work. Billy Hutchinson served 15 years of a life sentence for the murders.
Jim McVeigh, Sinn Féín Councillor for the Cupar Street area, where the murdered men were from, slammed the comments as “sectarian”.
“These two young fellas had nothing to do with the IRA,” he said. “They were totally innocent, just two young men on their way to work. The fact that Billy Hutchinson is hinting that he had ‘intelligence’ on these two fellas is disgraceful. They were not involved in any way, it was a random attack, they were on the road because they couldn’t get transport that day, that’s the reason they were killed, just because they were there and they were Catholic.
“Billy Hutchinson is trying to justify the murder of two innocent Catholics from the Court ward, the ward Hutchinson is standing in in May’s election.
“I am a republican who spent time in jail but I can say the murder of innocent civilians, Protestant or Catholic, can never be justified. To try and justify it is simply sectarian.”