Community relations fears as politicians row over Pomeroy

SERIOUS concerns about the future of community relations in Pomeroy has been expressed by Ulster Unionist MLA Sandra Overend.

The Mid Ulster MLA said there was an ‘overwhelming sense of discontent’ among the local unionist community following the decision to demolish the police station and relocate the rubble to Pomeroy Plunketts GAA club.

“I am very concerned about the future of community relations in the area especially following the comments of Cathal Mallaghan as Sinn Fein Councillor for the area,” said Mrs Overend.

“His reference to a quote glorifying revenge stands in stark contrast to the very terms of the Belfast Agreement and all that Sinn Fein claim to be progressing towards, namely a committed partnership based on equality, tolerance and mutual respect.

“That these negative comments were so inextricably linked with the Pomeroy Plunketts GAA club and grounds, merely reinforces concerns that there was a sectarian motivation and intent to cause offence and distress behind the use of the rubble,” she said.

“I have written to the President of the Ulster GAA asking his organisation to distance themselves from the comments associated with the actions of their club, to disallow any further terrorist commemorations at their premises and furthermore, to define what actions they propose to take to improve community relations in the Pomeroy area. I await his response with interest.”

And Mrs Overend continued: “For the future benefit of community relations in Pomeroy village, and indeed throughout Mid-Ulster, it is my view that Cathal Mallaghan’s comments were far from helpful.

“The tragedies of the past have left a brutal and unsightly scar upon this country, one which cannot be ignored.

“If people are serious about working toward peace and reconciliation then the Unionist community in Pomeroy and throughout Mid-Ulster is ready to reciprocate. But meaningful peace and reconciliation require tolerance and mutual trust and a genuine commitment to ensure the protection of human rights for all.”

In response to the MLA’s statement, Sinn Fein Councillor Cathal Mallaghan said: “It is good to see Sandra Overend taking an interest in community relations in Pomeroy. And the reason I find it interesting is because in the summer of 2011 local protestants in Pomeroy were surveyed and they were asked what did they know of their political representatives and the broad response was ‘little or nothing’.

“I am very proud of any affiliations that my party and I have with any organisations and the importance is their inclusivity.

“And out of all the organisations I am involved in, I know that if I go to a church service of a different denomination I wont be summoned to a hearing of my peers unlike Sandra’s single minister in the Assembly and her party leader,” said the Sinn Fein councillor.

“In conclusion if Sandra wants to lecture anybody on inclusivity and respect she needs to take a look at her own party and the Orange Order,” councillor Mallaghan said.