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Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan said he doesn't consider Isis 'terrorists'

Sinn Féin MLA Phil Flanagan was reported saying he does not consider Islamic State as "terrorists"
Brendan Hughes

A SINN Féin MLA has been criticised for saying he does not consider Islamic State as "terrorists", claiming the term "demonised organisations".

Phil Flanagan faced calls on Friday night to consider his position over the remarks, which were described as "ridiculous" and "offensive".

Speaking to the Impartial Reporter, the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA said he does not believe bombing Syria is the solution to last week's Paris attacks that killed 130 people.

Mr Flanagan was quoted as saying he does not consider Islamic State (Isis) as "terrorists," but appeared to change his mind last night tweeting that "Isis are terrorists."

He told the newspaper: "I am not comfortable with the approach by the British establishment and other countries involved in invasion and colonial activities in the past in labelling organisations terrorists," adding that the term "demonised organisations".

When contacted on Friday morning by The Irish News, Mr Flanagan claimed he had been "misquoted" and referred any further questions to the Sinn Féin press office.

A statement issued by Sinn Féin on behalf of Mr Flanagan said: "Clearly ISIS is engaged in terror and responsible for countless atrocities in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and most recently in Paris along with being linked to groups who carried out the attacks in Mali," he said.

"Those targeted posed no threat to anyone but were targeted without cause, without justification or without mercy."

It added: "We know from our own troubled history that there are no purely military solutions.

"Diplomacy, negotiations and political resolution of conflict is key."

Mr Flanagan later posted on Twitter: "For those chasing headlines let me be clear Isis are terrorists."

A Sinn Féin spokesman added: "People who are engaged in these acts are terrorists. It's very clear that these people are engaged in terrorist acts."

TUV leader Jim Allister described the initial remarks as "shocking" and accused Sinn Féin of viewing the IRA and Isis as "brothers in arms".

Former Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott said Mr Flanagan should "consider his position as a public representative" over the "offensive" comments.

"It is totally outrageous for him to say he does not consider Islamic State to be terrorists," the Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP said.

"Islamic State have slaughtered people as they ate dinner and attended music gigs, raped and enslaved women and thrown gay men off buildings. If this is not terror I don't know what is."

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