A UNIONIST Coast Road councillor claims she has been subjected to a “campaign of personal vilification” by Sinn Fein.
Cllr Maureen Morrow declined to respond to East Antrim MLA Oliver McMullan’s demand for an explanation of comments about the Twelfth of July parade in Carnlough in 2007.
The Braid District demonstration is due back in the village this year and Sinn Fein has urged the organisers to enter into dialogue in the coming months.
As previously reported, unionists and republicans are at odds over whether the parade six years ago was subjected to nationalist protest. Mr McMullan’s latest statement amounted to a challenge to Cllr Morrow, asking here to say where a protest had taken place. He contended: “There was no protest. There were people standing on the bridge, but it certainly was not a protest and the police were comfortable with them standing there. Will Cllr Morrow come out publicly and tell me what the problems were with the local people in Carnlough on the day?”
He went on to claim that Cllr Morrow had been “noticeably quiet” about events in Glenarm, including an attack on the GAA club at Feystown and weekly Union flag protests.
Cllr McMullan also took exception to Cllr Morrow’s assertion that his Sinn Fein colleague, Cllr James McKeown, did not attend meetings of the Glenlough project steering group, saying: “How dare she come out with that statement when Cllr McKeown has been the driving force of that from the start? Cllr McKeown was pivotal in getting that project up and running and having it funded.”
Sinn Fein was unhappy with the direction the project had taken and would lobby for change, he added.
Asked to respond, Cllr Morrow issued a short rebuttal, claiming: “The motivation for this campaign of personal vilification is presumably because I work for everyone in the community. However, I am confident the majority of the people in the borough of Larne know this, and can see through this negative bluster.”
Meanwhile, after DUP councillor Gregg McKeen suggested that Sinn Fein’s stance on the Orange parade raised questions about the party’s commitment to a shared future, Mr McMullan replied: “I welcome the fact that the councillor is talking about a shared future. Sinn Fein are asked if we want a shared future with members of the Orange Order: we have no problem with that, but you can’t put a parade through without dialogue. Can Cllr McKeen and Cllr Morrow now get the Orange Order to sit down and talk with Sinn Fein and discuss the way forward? Because this could be the start of a bright future.”
This week Cllr McKeen replied: “The parade organisers are already speaking to local people - because they are local residents. Sinn Fein needs to acknowledge that these people are from the community as well. The lodge and band have been part of the Carnlough community for high on 100 years.
“If he (Mr McMullan) really wants to get into a mud-slinging episode, the Orange have suffered as well, such as when the Orange hall was burnt.
“The DUP has made moves in the borough to accommodate the minority tradition, such as when Bobby McKee, as mayor, welcomed the Ancient Order of Hibernians to the parlour. Sinn Fein have to accommodate the minority tradition in Carnlough as well.”