Councillor is target of tabloid witch-hunt
Councillor is target of tabloid witch-hunt

A former Sinn Fein councillor who refused to condemn the current armed campaign by breakaway IRA groups has apparently become the subject of a high profile media hate campaign.

A Belfast-based tabloid published a front-page denunciation of County Down councillor Martin Connolly on Tuesday.

Printing a giant photograph of Mr Connolly on its front page under the headline ‘You beggar belief’, it vilified the Kilkeel man after he refused to condemn armed actions against the Crown forces.

Councillor Connolly had been asked to comment on an attack by Oglaigh na hEireann against a Catholic member of the PSNI, who was related to him through marriage. A device, which was discovered at the woman’s home at the weekend, had failed to explode.

Pressed on the incident, Mr Connolly who left Sinn Fein in 2007 and is now an independent republican councillor, said he did not want to get into ‘the politics of condemnation’.

“The reality is that the politics of condemnation have never served any purpose,” he said.

“I can understand and appreciate the frustration, anger and hurt of the family involved but me indulging in condemnation will serve no useful purpose.

“If you are asking me do I condone an attack on an extended family member then the answer is clearly no but neither will I indulge in simple soundbites to suit certain political agendas.

“What I would rather do is have an informed debate as to why such actions are still occurring.

“Without addressing the root cause of the issue then this sad scenario will befall another family in the future.”

The North’s political establishment is increasingly keen to demonise the disparate dissident groups ahead of next year’s Assembly elections, triggering the return of the 1980s-style media witch-hunt.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams also criticised Connolly’s position. He said his former colleague was “an eejit”.

“There’s no other way to put it,” Mr Adams said. “Let him go forward at the next election.

“At the time when he left the party, it was on a bogus run against our psition about policing but the electorate will have their say on that in due course.”

Mr Connolly said he was “taken aback” by Mr Adams’s remarks.

“As a republican for over 30 years I can well remember Gerry Adams taking a similar stance to myself and refusing to engage in condemnation.

“The only person making an eejit of himself is Gerry Adams with his rank hypocrisy.

“Perhaps he should look more closely at how he dealt with his own family matters as opposed to lecturing others on how to deal with theirs.”

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