Northern Ireland

DUP candidate says Facebook post on parade for UVF commander was liked 'inadvertently'

An East Belfast UVF mural featuring an image of Robert 'Squeak' Seymour (left).
An East Belfast UVF mural featuring an image of Robert 'Squeak' Seymour (left).

A DUP election candidate has said he "inadvertently" liked a social media post announcing a loyalist band parade commemorating a UVF commander.

It comes as the DUP have criticised Sinn Féin MP John Finucane over his plans to attend an IRA commemoration event in south Armagh on Sunday.

The annual East Belfast Battalion Memorial Parade, which is taking place next weekend, is held to commemorate senior UVF man Robert 'Squeak' Seymour, who was shot dead by the IRA in 1988.

Seymour, who was the commanding officer of the UVF in east Belfast at the time of his killing, had previously been convicted of murdering IRA member James Burns at his west Belfast home in 1981.

Following his conviction in 1983, Seymour's life sentence was overturned on appeal, but he was later jailed for arms offenses and released from prison the year before his murder.

A Facebook post announcing this year's parade on June 17 commemorating the UVF man was liked by an account linked to Bangor DUP member Dean McSorely.

Mr McSorely stood in the Bangor Central DEA during last month's council election, but was eliminated on the fifth round of ballot counting after receiving 361 first preference votes.

The Facebook account, 'Dean McSorley - Bangor Central DUP' was among 110 to like the post by the East Belfast ACT Initiative account announcing the parade to commemorate Seymour.

Former Sinn Féin director of publicity, Danny Morrison, highlighted the liking of the post on Thursday.

The DUP has hit out at John Finucane for planning to attend the South Armagh Volunteers Commemoration this Sunday in Mullaghbawn, where the North Belfast MP is billed as the main speaker.

The event is being held to commemorate IRA members, but DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has criticized the event for "building a fun day" around IRA members in south Armagh, whom he described as "one of the most dangerous and feared killing machines in Northern Ireland during the Troubles".

Mr Donaldson said the event "reopens the wounds" for IRA victims.

Sinn Féin has defended Mr Finucane's attendance at the event, with vice-president Michelle O'Neill saying it is "right and respectful to remember our dead".

Responding to the Irish News, Mr McSorely, a member of the Bangor Protestant Boys Flute Band, said: “This post was about road closures affecting the local community and I inadvertently liked it. There is no place for paramilitaries. I condemn all forms of terrorism.”

UVF commander Robert 'Squeak' Seymour was shot dead in 1988.
UVF commander Robert 'Squeak' Seymour was shot dead in 1988.

Speaking to the Irish News, Danny Morrison said the social media activity suggested "hypocrisy and double standards" by some within unionism over commemoration events.

"What is going on with unionists is, in my opinion, the continuation of the war with republicans by other means," he said.

"We have seen many unionists, in both the DUP and UUP over the years, attending events linked to loyalists even as far back as sitting with the UVF and UDA during the Ulster Workers Strike."

Victims campaigner Kenny Donaldson, of the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) group, recently said Mr Finucane's attendance at this weekend's event was "particularly poor form from a political representative who is himself an innocent victim/survivor of terrorism".

Speaking of the Seymour parade, Mr Donaldson said: “There is no absolute right to remember dead terrorists in whatever way people decide. There needs to be a set of standards in all of this or we are going to face a very difficult future with young people being propagated romanticised nonsense and being shielded from the horrors and ugliness of political ideologies when taken to their extreme."