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Martina Anderson's place on Executive Committee 'untenable' after tweet

Martina Anderson apologised for her 'clumsy' tweet. Picture by Brian Lawless/PA Wire

MARTINA Anderson's seat on the Stormont committee that deals with a range of legacy issues is now "untenable", according to the Ulster Unionist Party.

But a Sinn Féin spokesman has insisted that the Foyle MLA will not be resigning either her seat or her place on three Stormont committees.

Executive Committee deputy chair Doug Beattie said the former MEP's tweet about Troubles' victims meant she was an unsuitable member of the scrutiny committee. However, the Upper Bann MLA last night conceded that Ms Anderson's resignation is unlikely given that "she is there because Sinn Féin appoint her".

The veteran Sinn Féin MLA was forced to issue an apology yesterday for a social media post in which she claimed the Troubles' pension scheme was "mainly for those who fought Britain's dirty war".

The tweet prompted a storm of criticism and was deleted five hours after being posted following an intervention by Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill.

Ms Anderson said she "apologised unreservedly for the hurt and offence caused by my tweet to people who suffered serious harm during the conflict here".

She described her comments as "clumsy" and said it was not her intention to cause hurt.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said yesterday that Ms Anderson's comment were "appalling and deeply insulting".

He said Sinn Féin needed to agree to the immediate implementation of the Victims' Payment Scheme.

"Will they give up this attempt to rewrite history to suggest that anyone who didn’t engage in violence was complicit in Britain's dirty war?" he said.

"And will they hold their public representative accountable for comments they make that cause such immense hurt? That’s the real test now."

Mr Beattie said victims' goodwill had already been "stretched" by having Ms Anderson on the committee, given that she had convictions for bombing offences.

"I believe that her position on that committee is now untenable," he said.

"Legacy is already a contested enough area to deal with without having to factor in Martina Anderson’s latest outburst – and when you look closely at the apology it is clear that she only apologised ‘for the hurt and offence caused’ but she very pointedly did not apologise for the content or the sentiments that caused the hurt and offence."

A Sinn Féin spokesman told The Irish News: "We do not expect Martina Anderson to resign".

An Alliance spokesman said Martina Anderson and the Sinn Féin leadership "did not comprehend the hurt that was caused" by the tweet and that the party needed to do more "to address the damage".

"Martina Anderson's comments are something that can and should be considered by the incoming standards commissioner," the spokesman said.

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