Anger at ‘lack of consideration towards Bellaghy Unionists’ ahead of IRA hunger striker memorial

Bellaghy Unionists feel 'intimidated' by the posters says MLA Sandra Overend
Bellaghy Unionists feel 'intimidated' by the posters says MLA Sandra Overend

A Mid Ulster Unionist MLA is calling on Sinn Fein to show some leadership on the treatment of Bellaghy’s unionists in the run up to a memorial event for IRA hunger striker Thomas McElwee.

Sandra Overend has said the erection of event posters at the entrance to the Presbyterian Manse and now beside the Presbyterian and Church of Ireland churches “shows a lack of consideration towards the unionist population of Bellaghy”.

Hunger striker memorial poster next to Bellaghy church entrances

Hunger striker memorial poster next to Bellaghy church entrances

The event, due to take place this Sunday, is to be attended by Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and with this in mind, Mrs Overend is asking that Sinn Fein have the “intimidating” posters removed.

“I have been contacted by fellow unionists in Bellaghy expressing concern at the display of posters advertising a memorial event for IRA hunger striker Thomas McElwee,” Mrs Overend said.

“These posters are prominently displayed in the village but unionists feel particularly aggrieved at their position again at the Presbyterian Manse entrance and now beside the Presbyterian and Church of Ireland Churches.

“At best this shows a lack of consideration towards the unionist population of Bellaghy, at worst it could be considered intimidatory.

“I note that the event is to be addressed by deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness: I would therefore call on Sinn Fein to show leadership on this occasion, and take action to move these posters as soon as possible,” she continued.

“If these commemorations are to be held, community relations would be helped if they were promoted in a more respectful way.

“I know for a fact that there are people from Bellaghy and surrounding who are keen carry out and promote cross community work in Bellaghy, but these genuine efforts are undermined by the actions of a section of the nationalist community that appear to have no regard for the feelings of their unionist neighbours.”