Northern Ireland

Stormont department apologises for hunger strike tweet

Mid-Ulster MP Francie Molloy
Mid-Ulster MP Francie Molloy

A Stormont department has apologised after a message in memory of an 1981 hunger striker was retweeted from the popular TrafficwatchNI account.

There was controversy last month after it emerged that the popular traffic updates Twitter account had retweeted an image of a memorial to IRA hunger striker Martin Hurson.

Read More: Investigation launched after DfI Trafficwatch account retweets IRA hunger striker image

The Department for Infrastructure (DfI) later launched an investigation into whether the account was "hacked".

Controversy erupted after the site retweeted a post by Sinn Féin Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy paying tribute to  Mr Hurson, who died after 46 days without food on July 13 1981.

A tweet by MP Francie Molloy
A tweet by MP Francie Molloy

Mr Molloy's tweet included an image of a memorial in the Sperrin mountains, along with a tricolour, and the words: "Our National Flag flying proudly in memory of Martin Hurson on top of Sawel, highest mountain in Sperrins. Died on Hunger Strike 42 years ago today. RIP."

The post was then retweeted by TrafficwatchNI.

In a letter to North Belfast DUP MLA Phillip Brett DfI Permanent Secretary Julie Harrison apologised.

"This should not have happened and I would like to reassure you that we understand the hurt and offence that this has caused many people and I wish to apologise for this," she said.

Ms Harrison added that DfI is continuing to investigate if "this was the result of a hacking of the Trafficwatch NI account or an unauthorised accidental action by someone who had access to the account".

Mr Brett welcomed the investigation adding: ""I hope that this issue can be resolved hastily.”