SDLP hit out at DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly after she hosts constituency surgery in loyalist band hall

Ballynafeigh Band Hall was the location for a constituency surgery hosted by Emma Little-Pengelly on Friday afternoon
John Monaghan

THE SDLP has hit out at DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly after she hosted a constituency surgery in a loyalist band hall.

The South Belfast MP held the advice surgery in Ballynafeigh Band Hall yesterday afternoon.

In recent years the hall has been the starting point for an annual march commemorating the deaths of two UDA men who were linked to numerous murders during The Troubles.

Joe Bratty and Raymond Elder, who were shot dead by the Provisional IRA in 1994, were reportedly involved in a series of attacks including the killings of five Catholics at Sean Graham's bookmakers on the nearby Ormeau Road in 1992.

The march has previously been banned by the Parades Commission from several streets including the Ormeau Road, although loyalist paramilitary flags have been flown along the route and two photographers were last year threatened and told to leave the area.

Ms Little-Pengelly's constituency office is based on the Cregagh Road, on the boundary with east Belfast.

In addition to advice surgeries, the DUP MP has often made house calls during visits to other parts of the constituency and in a post on social media about the Ballynafeigh clinic wrote: "House calls available too."

Her party colleague, South Belfast MLA Christopher Stalford - whose office is in Sandy Row - regularly holds advice clinics at various locations in the constituency, including at Taughmonagh Social Club, which contains a UDA/UFF memorial in its grounds.

One social media user who replied directly to Ms Little-Pengelly's post commented: "Ballynafeigh Band Hall? Very inclusive."

SDLP councillor Dónal Lyons said that MPs are "supposed to represent everyone in the constituency" and that venues should be "open and accessible".

Mr Lyons said: "The fact is however that this band hall is the focal point for an annual march which celebrates the actions of two terrorists who are widely perceived to have been involved in the murders at the Sean Graham bookmakers on the Ormeau Road.

"The annual sprouting of UDA and UFF flags around the band hall, the blood and thunder approach of the bands in a quiet mixed area, and the harassment and intimidation of local residents and journalists has been a source of serious concern for the last number of years. Ms Pengelly must be aware of this."

The DUP did not respond to a request for comment.

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