Cookstown Sinn Féin Councillor Ciarán McElhone has said the three IRA men killed by the SAS in Coagh were victims of the conflict, as he responded to remarks made over the delay of the inquest into their deaths,
Over the last number of days UUP MLA Sandra Overend and the Innocent Victims United group have issued statements, referencing the stalled inquest into the deaths of the three IRA men.
In a stinging response, Cllr. McElhone said the statement were ‘contemptuous’.
“Over the past few days we have seen both Unionist politicians and victims’ groups attempting to capitalise on the frustration of the families of those killed at Coagh 22 years ago.
“Firstly to attack anyone who has been affected by the conflict in the gloating and contemptuous manner in which both Ms. Overend and Mr. Donaldson [Innocent Victims United] did shows great insensitivity at best and shameful political opportunism at worst as both of them only mention the activities of Republicanism.
“Secondly to foster an attitude that creates a hierarchy of victims indicates a lack of willingness to properly deal with past. The IRA volunteers killed in Coagh were victims of the conflict too.
“They did not start it but were products of it in the same way as many other victims. We have seen political Unionism fail in its attempt to deal with the past be it their deflective attitudes regarding Republican commemorations or the on-going fiasco surrounding the Maze Long Kesh site. Instead we have encountered u turns and pandering to the extremes as opposed to any real leadership.
The Sinn Fein councillor added: “All victims of the conflict no matter what their political persuasions and alliances deserve closure and the best way to achieve this is through an international truth and reconciliation process.
“As there is no willingness within Unionism or the British Government, the only mechanism open to these families is an inquest which is a legal requirement due to the circumstances”.