THE SDLP have voted for a Stormont motion which supported Sammy Brush – just weeks after voting for a motion which backed his would-be killer.
Monday night’s Assembly debate came after weeks of unionist anger at a decision by SDLP and Sinn Fein councillors in Dungannon to vote through a motion in support of the man convicted of attempting to murder Cllr Brush, despite the fact that the DUP representative is their council colleague.
But, in a move which surprised observers, Alasdair McDonnell’s party voted with unionists, the Alliance Party and Green MLA Steven Agnew to back a DUP motion supporting Cllr Brush and expressing “revulsion at those who side with would-be murderers rather than an innocent public servant”.
The motion was passed overwhelmingly, by 66 votes to 27, after a heated debate in which SDLP and Sinn Fein MLAs again called for former IRA man Gerry McGeough, who shot Cllr Brush in 1981, to be released from jail.
Cllr Brush, who sat in the public gallery during the debate, said it was “hypocrisy” for nationalist MLAs to condemn the dissident republican murderers of prison officer David Black but call for his attempted killer to be released.
“I’ve got over the shock of it [last month’s Dungannon council vote] and now it’s the aftermath, and to me the fightback, because I intend to have my say at the next council meeting, especially in view of the fact that so soon after we have a murder on the motorway of David Black.
“If I’m going to sit and listen to the people who voted for the release of Gerry McGeough condemning the murder carried out last Thursday morning, then I think that’s hypocrisy of the highest order.
“How can you condemn one shooting and say another one was basically justified?”
Cllr Brush tore into the SDLP for backing the man who attempted to murder him.
He said that Alasdair McDonnell’s party “seem to have lost all sense of justice and respect for victims”.
The former postman, whose health suffered in the wake of last month’s council vote, said that he has still not seen any of the nationalist councillors who voted in his presence to free his would-be killer.
“I’m still on my double medication for blood pressure but it is coming down.”
The former part-time UDR man added: “I’m glad to see that my party has brought this motion to Stormont because it is time that what was passed through council in Dungannon was put to bed for good.
“People that have committed terrorist crimes need to be serving their proper sentences.
“For political parties to call for the courts to be overruled and justice to become a lottery as to who can have the most votes in a debate is a bit ridiculous.
“Law and order is something that we expect: the police do their job, the courts to do their job and basically victims expect that the perpetrators of crimes should be properly brought to book and punished – not released on the whim of some political party or another.”