An ex-Sinn Fein councillor has attacked his town as “far right” amid local opposition to accepting thousands of Syrians, claiming the migrants would be better treated in Syria.
Padraig McShane is a representative for Coleraine, County Antrim. He was unimpressed when graffiti appeared on the wall of the Salvation Army Community Church in the town over the weekend, directly below an official sign reading, “all welcome.”
McShane, who resigned from Sinn Fein in 2010 and has links with Islamists and members of Hamas, was accused of “threaten[ing] to shove a glass bottle down the throat” of the husband of a Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) member inside the council chamber in 2014.
— Sam McBride (@SJAMcBride) September 20, 2015
He told The Belfast Telegraph: “I condemn this action outright but I am not surprised. Coleraine is famous for having a far-Right connection.”
Coleraine is a peaceful, affluent town, which is home to the one of the largest Polish communities in Northern Ireland.
McShane added: “While everyone else is responding positively to the terrible situation these people find themselves in, it is very sad to see this. I’m glad it has been removed.”
“It’s a total disgrace that anyone could write such a thing on a church wall – especially when these people have gone through so much and have been forced to leave their own homes and their own country.
“I would advise the refugees that they would be better off in Syria rather than coming to Coleraine.”
However, Democratic Unionist (DUP) councillor George Duddy was less alarmist about the developments:
“It is unfortunate that this message appeared on the wall of a church, but there is growing concern about bringing refugees to the town. A number of local people have been on waiting lists for houses for a long time, and they are concerned that if refugees are brought here they will get preferential treatment.
“We also have waiting lists building in our hospitals, and again anger is starting to build that refugees could receive priority again.
“There are better ways of getting this message through than painting something on the wall of a church, though.”