Northern Ireland news

SDLP councillor 'flabbergasted' by McCrea letter proposal

Billy Wright with the DUP's William McCrea in 1996

AN SDLP councillor whose father was killed by loyalists has said she was “flabbergasted” by a DUP proposal to send Rev William McCrea a letter of congratulations for being nominated to the House of Lords.

Denise Mullen spoke out after the chair of Mid Ulster District Council, Kim Ashton, made the proposal at a meeting this week.

It is understood that both the SDLP and Sinn Féin opposed the move.

A former MP for Mid Ulster and South Antrim, Rev McCrea was criticised when he stood on a platform alongside former UVF commander Billy Wright in Portadown in 1996 after the notorious loyalist fell out with the organisation.

Wright later went on to form the LVF.

Ms Mullen's father Denis was shot dead by the UVF's infamous Glenanne Gang in 1975, which also included members of the RUC and UDR and was responsible for dozens of sectarian murders.

She said the issue has caused upset.

“To have this thrown around a council chamber and the thought of a letter of support going out to this man, I find extremely upsetting and stressful,” she said.

Sinn Féin councillor Ronan McGinley said the council chair has the discretion to send letters without council permission.

“I am confused as to why the proposed letter was put to the floor,” he said.

“This was a matter for the chair to decide.

“However, she chose to put it to the floor and I voted against any letter being sent to show clearly that the council did not endorse this.”

Ms Ashton said: “Throughout my year anything I have sent in the name of the council, I have received council approval.

“It was unfortunate on this occasion that the council chose not to agree issuing the letter.”

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 to get full access

Northern Ireland news