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Councillor wants to pay tribute to only two

DUP corporals move riles Sinn Féin

One of the corporals tries to exit his car One of the corporals tries to exit his car
DUP councillor Ruth Patterson DUP councillor Ruth Patterson
By Ciara Quinn

A Belfast City Council motion by the DUP to extend sympathy to the families of the two British Army corporals who were shot and killed after driving into an IRA funeral in March 1988 has been described as “crass”.

The DUP’s Ruth Patterson will present the controversial motion at tonight’s (Wednesday’s) full Belfast City Council meeting, stating that the Council “wishes to extend to the families of these victims the assurance that the bravery, restraint and sacrifice of their beloved sons on that day will never be forgotten”.

March 1988 has been described as one of the most violent periods of the conflict. Seven West Belfast people lost their lives, including Volunteer Caoimhín Mac Bradaigh, 27-year-old John Murray and 20-year-old Thomas MrErlean, who were murdered in Milltown Cemetery trying to help others as loyalist gunman Michael Stone opened fire on mourners attending the funerals of the Gibraltar Three. It was during Caoimhín Mac Bradaigh’s funeral that the two British Army corporals drove into the cortege.

Sinn Féin Councillor and Council party leader Jim McVeigh called the DUP motion “a really cynical act”.

“Our party does not expect Alderman Patterson to acknowledge the loss of our five volunteers during the events of 1988, but this motion is nothing more than a very cynical act of focusing on a particular set of victims and ignoring the others who lost their lives during this time.

“It’s very party political and it is heartless to single out people in particular –  what about the innocent mourners who lost their lives while trying to defend those who had come to pay their respect at the graveside from a heavily armed Michael Stone?

“This motion is crass and we will be recommending an amendment to this in Council tonight (Wednesday) that includes and acknowledges all the victims who lost their lives 25 years ago,” added Councillor McVeigh.

SDLP Councillor Tim Attwood said: “March 1988 was a particularly dark period in the history of the Troubles. Thirteen people tragically lost their lives at the hands of the IRA, loyalist paramilitaries and security forces including the brutal killing of the two corporals. These killings left a deep and profound legacy of suffering for all the victims families. The SDLP has consistently condemned all acts of violence and has always been committed to an exclusively democratic and peaceful means of resolving differences on political issues. In the face of recent dissident attacks and the callous murder of Kieran McManus, it is essential that we all reaffirm our total and absolute commitment to non-violence.”

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