Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin calls for removal of banner supporting Soldier F who is facing Bloody Sunday prosecution

The banner was erected in Portadown on Tuesday night

SINN Féin has called for the removal of a banner supporting a soldier facing prosecution for killings on Bloody Sunday.

The banner, which states 'Portadown stands with Soldier F', was erected on Tuesday night and stretches across the town centre. The message is accompanied by a parachute regiment emblem.

The soldier, known as 'Soldier F', is to be charged with murdering two people when soldiers opened fire on civil rights demonstrators in Derry in January 1972.

Last month, the Public Prosecution Service said there was enough evidence to prosecute the soldier for the murders of James Wray and William McKinney.

Some relatives of the 13 people killed have campaigned for their prosecution, while others argue that 'Soldier F' should not face trial.

Over the weekend, around 80 bikers rode to Stormont in protest against the prosecution of the soldier who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Around 11,000 bikers also met on Park Lane in London, before travelling to Parliament Square and on to Trafalgar Square.

In recent days, Parachute Regiment flags have also appeared in Carrickfergus and east Belfast in support of 'Soldier F'.

Sinn Féin assembly member John O’Dowd last night called for the removal of the banner in Portadown, which he said was "designed to cause hurt to the victims of Bloody Sunday and cause community division".

He said the banner was "not appropriate".

"The victims of Bloody Sunday deserve the truth just as much as any victim of the conflict," he said.

"The banner should be removed immediately."

However, DUP councillor Darryn Causby criticised Mr O'Dowd's comments.

"John O'Dowd is very quick to seek the removal of flags and symbols representing the unionist community but consistently remains silent on illegal monuments to IRA terrorist and Irish tricolours adorning lamp post across his constituency, his comments are nothing short of rank hypocrisy," he said.

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