SF against Dungannon condolence book

Published Tuesday, 13 November 2012
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Sinn Féin have voted against a book of condolence for murdered prison officer David Black from being opened in Dungannon.

SF against Dungannon condolence book
The funeral of David Black was held in Cookstown last week. (© Pacemaker)

The motion was put forward at Monday evening's meeting by Ulster Unionist Party councillor Kenneth Reid.

It went through with 13 votes in favour and nine against, and the book has now been opened.

Despite Sinn Féin being opposed to the gesture, because such tributes have previously only been given by the council to those from within the borough, Mayor Phelim Gildernew - a Sinn Féin representative - was the first to sign the book on Tuesday morning.

But Cllr Reid said when he approached Mayor Gildernew the day after Mr Black was gunned down, his request for a book of condolence was turned down.

Mr Black, a married father of two from Cookstown, was ambushed by gunmen on the M1 as he drove to work at Maghaberry prison on Thursday 1 November.

He said it was going to come across to the community that we had opened a book for a Protestant member of the security forces and had not done it for a Catholic member of the security forces.

Kenneth Reid, UUP

Cllr Reid said the mayor had claimed he was against the memorial gesture because no book had been opened for Constable Ronan Kerr, who was killed in a bomb outside his Omagh home, or for Corporal Channing Day, who died in Afghanistan.

He added that Mayor Gildernew referred to the appeal from the Black family that Sinn Féin deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness not attend the funeral.

But Cllr Reid said he had asked for the book to be put in place before the family made their request.

"That book would have been in place if it had have been dealt with on Friday, before the announcement was made," the UUP representative said.

It is understood that the council members who voted against opening the book were Sinn Féin councillors and an independent republican representative.

Mayor Gildernew said: "We do not in principle oppose a book of condolence in cases like this, in the appropriate place."

But he disputed whether the town was an "appropriate" place for a book of condolence for Mr Black to be opened.

"In the case of Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council, the precedent has been that such books are opened for people who live in the district - the two previous cases being Michaela Harte and those killed from the area in 9/11," he said.

David Black had no connection to the Borough of Dungannon and South Tyrone as he lived in neighbouring Cookstown. Throughout the conflict, no such books of condolence were ever opened.

Mayor Phelim Gildernew, Sinn Féin

Cllr Reid said the objection "hurt people who are absolutely devastated and ripped to pieces with the brutal taking of their loving husband and loving father".

The UUP councillor said: "I was so sad in my heart that we had to take this to a meeting and put it to a vote to get a book of condolences.

"That should not happen irrespective of who the person is or the circumstances of any sort of life being taken of someone who was doing a public duty."

Cllr Reid added: "If they wear the Queen's uniform and they're doing their job that is to protect the general public they obviously become a legitimate target."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
16 Comments
Rob in Belfast wrote (707 days ago):
sam in londonderry , disagree with your reasoning , It's a disgrace that a book wasnt opened as it should be for any member of the forces murdered by cowardly terrorists
Trevor in Banbridge wrote (708 days ago):
To Sam in Londonderry. You really should take those blinkers off and take that chip of your shoulder before you fall over. People are sick of that same old rhetoric of "oh poor me". Get yourself a life.
jim in belfast wrote (708 days ago):
you people are so bigoted. sinn fein are wrong to oppose this but then again whats new
Sam in Derry wrote (708 days ago):
Rob because catholics are second class citizen in N.I one rule for protestants another for catholics. Nothing has changed in N.I except the name of some organisations RUC/PSNI.....
middle of the road in Ulster wrote (708 days ago):
There is no doubt that a book should have been opened for Const. Kerr, however this was not the case. I agree in principle Mr Black was not from the Dungannon area so really why should a book be opened? For the likes of the Omagh murders and 9/11 yes a book for such a great tragedy.If people from Dungannon council area were so keen to have a book to sign why not the council provide a bus every evening for a week to ferry people to Cookstown to sign a book. Just for information I am very much against Sein Fein and their policies but if we are to move on ???????????? need I say anymore.
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