IRA slept in SDLP supporters’ houses in city: claim

LONDONDERRY MLA Pat Ramsey has reacted angrily to claims that members of the IRA who were on the run slept in SDLP supporters houses in the city during the Troubles.

UUP MLA Danny Kennedy made the allegation based on a statement by Deputy First Minister and former IRA leader Martin McGuinness, which was aired on a television programme on Friday, November 2.

During a debate on a motion in support of Sammy Brush, a DUP councillor who, while working as a postman, was shot and survived an assassination attempt by Tyrone IRA man Gerry McGeough, Mr Kennedy interupted the local SDLP MLA.

Mr Kennedy stated: “As he waxes lyrical on the SDLP’s record, I am interested in his response to an interview given by Martin McGuinness, now the deputy First Minister, about his previous activities - one presumes his previous activities - to ‘Inside Politics’, which was broadcast last Friday night.

“McGuinness said: ‘We also had a situation in Derry at the time where IRA people who were on the run were actually sleeping in SDLP supporters’ houses. I did so myself on quite a number of occasions.’”

Mr Kennedy asked Mr Ramsey to give his reaction on behalf of the SDLP.

The Londonderry representative said he had been a member of the SDLP for over 30 years and that “under no circumstances would people whom I know to have been in the SDLP in Derry have been associated with or helped to support violence.”

He added: “We stand united with those against whom violence has been used. All victims can be confident today, as they always have been, that the SDLP does not distinguish between victims.

“All victims of the conflict must be treated with equality, dignity, respect and transparency. As the motion states, I extend my and my party’s unequivocal support to all victims, to those who have been made victims as a result of the conflict, whether at the hands of paramilitaries, state agents or the British Army.”

He said the SDLP had through the Belfast Agreement enshrined in the ethos of the political structures the principle that no victims will be forgotten.

“A comprehensive victims strategy must be brought forward to complement and direct those efforts. The lack of clarity from former paramilitaries, the British Government and its agents continues to cause hurt and suffering for those same families and victims who seek the truth about the past.

“Contrary to what some Members have said here, we are committed, as we always have been, to ensuring that those difficult steps are taken to ensure that they receive the truth that they so truly deserve,” he stated.