EDUCATION Minister John O’Dowd has come under attack from his fellow Upper Bann MLA Sydney Anderson for accompanying the killer of two policemen to a funeral.
The Sinn Fein minister collected Martin Corey from Maghaberry prison to escort him to the funeral mass of his brother in Lurgan.
Corey was jailed for life after being convicted of the double murder of Constables Raymond Wylie and Ronald MacAuley who were killed in an ambush at Aghagallon in 1973.
The move has been widely condemned by unionist politicians, with Mr Anderson, a member of the Assembly’s justice committee, this week joining in the fray by stating, “The decision of Education Minister to act as guarantor for multiple police murderer Martin Corey so that he could attend a funeral constitutes a public failure for every school child in Northern Ireland.
“Corey was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murders of two brave police officers. And even though he was released on licence, his licence was subsequently revoked by the Secretary of State in April 2010 after he was deemed to be a security risk.”
Mr O’Dowd defended his action by saying, “This was a humanitarian gesture from the justice minister to a man who had lost his brother.
“I went along as an MLA, I offered reassurance to the justice minister that Martin would adhere to the conditions of his humanitarian parole, Martin did adhere to those conditions and was returned to jail.”
A Sinn Fein party spokesman claimed: “We have nothing to apologise for and we are not embarrassed. We are happy to facilitate Martin’s ability to attend his brother’s funeral.”