Dismay as Mairead Farrell commemoration is banned

A memorial for Mairead Farrell, one of three IRA Volunteers shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar 20 years ago, has been banned.

The Sinn Féin-backed commemoration was due to take place in the Long Gallery at Stormont Parliament Buildings tomorrow [Friday] as part of celebrations to mark International Women’s Day.

Mairead Farrell was shot dead in March 1998 along with Danny McCann and Sean Savage.

Their deaths sparked a series of events that marked one of the bloodiest periods of the Troubles.

Just over a week later, during funerals for the three IRA members, unionist paramilitary Michael Stone launched a gun and grenade attack on mourners in Milltown cemetery killing a further three people and wounding 50 others.

Three days later, at the funeral of one of Stone’s victims, two British corporals were seized by mourners and later killed by the IRA.

The Sinn Féin Assembly member who planned the event, Jennifer McCann, was angry. She said: “The decision is unfair and undemocratic. The building at Stormont is supposed to be a shared public space for everyone.”

She said the party was very disappointed. “All of the other parties on the Assembly Commission, the SDLP, the Alliance Party, the UUP and the DUP all blocked this event to mark International Women’s Day.”

Ms McCann added: “If the building at Stormont cannot be a shared space that reflects the history and culture of all the people in society then it must become a neutral space. “It cannot continue to reflect one tradition and one culture.”

Earlier in the week, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams unveiled a mural in memory of those who died in Gibraltar and Milltown cemetery.

Speaking on the site of the former Andersonstown barracks, just yards from the gates of Milltown cemetery, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams said the intention of the event was “not to give offence.”

“We genuinely do not believe in any hierarchy of victimhood,” the Sinn Féin leader said.

“We are thinking of the families of the two British undercover soldiers who died as well.

“It was never our intention to involve Mairead’s name in what, in my view, has more to do with the state of unionism today than anything else.

“We cannot lead unionism, only unionists can lead unionism. There’s a need for all of us to put ourselves in the shoes of others.

“Essentially these events are about remembering, not just looking back into the past but making sure it doesn’t happen again,” he said.

Sinn Féin would be meeting in the morning to consider their response to the decision, Ms McCann said. However the party was expected to try to press ahead with the event in its own private office at Stormont Buildings.

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