English victims of IRA atrocities have spoken out against the appearance of Martin McGuinness at a rally against austerity held in London this weekend.
Approximately 25,000 people descended on Westminster, Central London on Saturday for the March Against Austerity, at which millionaire celebrities including Russell Brand and Charlotte Church whipped up indignation at the government’s plans to cut excessive public sector spending.
One of those to address the crowd was the Irish republican Martin McGuinness. A former Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) leader, Mr McGuinness is now a Sinn Fein member of Parliament and deputy first minister of Northern Ireland.
He used his speech to accuse “Cameron’s cabinet of millionaires” of being “the real spongers”, adding: “We said no to the coalition government and we are saying an unambiguous, unqualified and uncompromising ‘no’ to this new Tory government.”
But his appearance has been branded “disgusting” by the sister of an IRA bombing victim. Julie Hambleton, whose 18-year-old sister Maxine was one of 21 people killed in the 1974 Birmingham pub bombings has told Northern Ireland’s News Letter: “They now want pensions for terrorists who injured themselves while trying to kill other people.
“There just aren’t words to describe the madness. He then has the audacity come over here to protest about austerity when he doesn’t want to give money to victims, who have been put in wheelchairs by people that he knows.”
She said it was hypocritical of Sinn Fein to criticise ‘austerity’ when they draw public salaries as Westminster parliamentarians without taking up their seats. “What we find insulting is that he belonged to a terrorist organisation – something he has never denied – but they have got away with it, and now they are more than happy to take the money from the very same people that they have been trying to kill for years,” she added.
And she accused Mr McGuinness of further hypocrisy for criticising governmental policies when he refuses to pass on information about the activities of the IRA, saying: “Everyone else we have written to in Northern Ireland has responded, but as far as Sinn Fein are concerned they have never responded to the correspondence.
“Gerry Adams is quoted as saying it’s time for the truth, but if they want to be treated like statesmen then they need to start behaving like statesmen. As such, they need to give up information.”
Also speaking out was Jonathan Ganesh, a survivor of the IRA bombing of Canary Wharf in 1995. Mr Ganesh, a representative of the Docklands Victim’s Association said: “I find Mr McGuiness’s attendance at this anti-austerity march very concerning for all victims of terrorist violence.
“The mainland disabled victims are being denied a pension and many victims are campaigning for justice – and absurdly perpetrators may receive a pension. However, he has chosen not to speak up against these issues and has ignored the pleas of the innocent victims.”
The march, organised by the People’s Assembly, received the backing of a number of organisations which support terrorism. Amongst the list are War on Want, who, as well as campaigning on poverty issues, lobby for “justice for Palestine”.
They are calling for Israel to be boycotted and the subject of embargos to end what the refer to as the “occupation” of the Palestinian territories.
Another supporter of the march was the group ‘Friends of Al Aqsa’ (Al Aqsa being the mosque located on Temple Mount in Jerusalem). The group accuses Israel of killing children, and also refers to the Palestinian territories as “occupied territories.” It too has called for boycotts, divestment and sanctions.
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