Cookstown Gaza speaker hits back at MLA

THE key speaker at a public meeting aimed at generating support for the people of Gaza, has hit out at comments made by the DUP Assembly Member, Ian McCrea.

The Mid Ulster MLA was critical of the decision to have Tommy McKearney, a former IRA member, speaking at the event in the Greenvale Hotel, Cookstown.

Mr McCrea claimed the meeting was organised “to support a designated terrorist organisation committed to the destruction of Israel”, and added: “The republican campaign of terrorism waged by people like Tommy McKearney had absolutely no legitimacy and support lent by such individuals only reinforces the terrorism perpetrated by Hamas.

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In light of these comments, Mr McKearney has given his reaction to the issues raised by McCrea in a letter to the TIMES.

“Ian McCrea’s personalised attack on myself, and the meeting at which I spoke concerning the people of Gaza’s dreadful plight, smacks more of a politician’s desperation for publicity than of any reasoned analysis”, he writes.

“The undisputable fact is that the civilian population of Gaza was subjected to what the UN described as ‘unprecedented destruction’ during which at least 2127 Palestinians were killed, 577 of whom were children, 260 women and 101 elderly people and a further 10,000 people seriously injured. Against this Israel lost 73 dead, 66 of whom were soldiers. If Mr McCrea is looking for terrorists in that region he should look instead to the government of Israel.

“Moreover, if the DUP’s Ian McCrea is so fixated by my IRA past, he should perhaps consider raising the issue with his party leaders who are currently sitting in coalition with a significant number of former IRA activists. Not, I suspect, that either of these issues is really at the heart of Mr McCrea’s anxiety. With Stormont and Westminster elections due in the next 18 months, the call of the polls is resounding in his ears.

“One piece of good news for Ian, however, is that I shall be speaking at many other public events in my home county and his opportunities for tub-thumping will be manifold.”