Sinn Fein report SAS flag at Loughgall to police

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Sinn Fein has condemned the flying of an SAS flag at Loughgall - where the elite British regiment killed eight IRA men - and reported the matter to the PSNI.

The party’s Newry and Armagh MP Mickey Brady said flying the flag was insensitive and would add further distress to the families of the IRA men who died in the Co Armagh village in 1987.

The van used by the IRA at Loughgall in 1987. Pic: Pacemaker

The van used by the IRA at Loughgall in 1987. Pic: Pacemaker

The eight men were killed as they attacked Loughgall RUC station with a bomb in a hijacked digger. A civilian was also killed in the ambush.

On Sunday, Sinn Fein’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill caused a storm of controversy among IRA victims and unionists when she was guest speaker at an event in Cappagh, Co Tyrone, held for the eight IRA men.

Mr Brady said: “Having recently attended a commemoration to mark the 30th anniversary of the Loughgall massacre, I’m appalled to learn that a British SAS flag has been reported as flying in the village.

“This shameful act of glorification will only serve to add further distress to the families of the nine men as we approach the 30th anniversary.”

THE 8 IRA MEN WHO WERE SHOT DEAD BY THE SAS AT LOUGHGALL. FROM TOP LEFT: PATRICK McKEARNEY, TONY GORMLEY, JIM LYNAGH, PADDY KELLY. FROM BOTTOM LEFT: DECLAN ARTHURS, GERARD O'CALLAGHAN, SEAMUS DONNELLY AND EUGENE KELLY.

PIC:PACEMAKER

THE 8 IRA MEN WHO WERE SHOT DEAD BY THE SAS AT LOUGHGALL. FROM TOP LEFT: PATRICK McKEARNEY, TONY GORMLEY, JIM LYNAGH, PADDY KELLY. FROM BOTTOM LEFT: DECLAN ARTHURS, GERARD O'CALLAGHAN, SEAMUS DONNELLY AND EUGENE KELLY. PIC:PACEMAKER

Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy added: “The tragic events of Friday 8th May 1987 will be forever defined as one of the saddest periods for the Republican family in County Tyrone. This is a sinister and provocative development which Sinn Féin has reported to the PSNI.

“Questions will be asked as to who has been responsible for this act, particularly as to whether former or serving members of the British forces were involved.”

Mrs O’Neill has come in for criticism over her attendance from both unionist politicians and victims of IRA violence for speaking at the event.

But Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie MC also described Sinn Fein complaints about the flag as “the height of hypocrisy”.

Sinn Fein Northern Ireland leader Michelle ONeill participated in and delivered a speech at the commemoration event in Tyrone on Sunday

Sinn Fein Northern Ireland leader Michelle ONeill participated in and delivered a speech at the commemoration event in Tyrone on Sunday

Mr Beattie said: “Sinn Fein and the republican movement may well see the flying of the SAS regimental flag as provocative - but what do they expect? Their recent overt commemoration of those heavily armed IRA men hell bent on committing murder in Loughgall thirty years ago, was extremely provocative.

“They set the conditions and now they are complaining about the backlash. They should think about these consequences before they celebrate terrorism. Anything else is the height of hypocrisy.

“Sinn Fein can organise as many commemorations to remember dead IRA men as they want. That is entirely up to them. What they cannot control however, is how the rest of society chooses to remember the IRA - as a criminal gang whose stock in trade was sectarian murder.”

READ MORE: Loughgall IRA commemoration ‘sickening’ says victim’s son

Michelle O'Neill at the commemoration for IRA members killed in Loughgall, which took place in Tyrone on Sunday.

Michelle O'Neill at the commemoration for IRA members killed in Loughgall, which took place in Tyrone on Sunday.

READ MORE: O’Neill proud to commemorate republican dead

READ MORE: Secret war with IRA: ‘Loughgall ambush deflated republicans’

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Loughgall murder gang sought war and they got it

The scene following an IRA attack on Loughgall RUC station, Co Armagh, in May 1987, during which eight IRA members were killed in an SAS ambush. PRESS ASSOCIATION.

The scene following an IRA attack on Loughgall RUC station, Co Armagh, in May 1987, during which eight IRA members were killed in an SAS ambush. PRESS ASSOCIATION.

Hypocrisy of Sinn Fein, talking about moving on from the past when keeping alive events such as Loughgall, above. An aerial view of Loughgall RUC station after the IRA attack on it in 1987

Hypocrisy of Sinn Fein, talking about moving on from the past when keeping alive events such as Loughgall, above. An aerial view of Loughgall RUC station after the IRA attack on it in 1987

Sinn Fein leader for Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill takes part in a march to Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting dead of eight IRA members and bystander Anthony Hughes in an SAS ambush in Loughgall, Co Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 30, 2017. The IRA members killed were Jim Lynagh, 32; Padraig McKearney, 32; Gerard O'Callaghan, 29; Tony Gormley, 25; Eugene Kelly, 25; Patrick Kelly, 32; Seamus Donnelly, 19; and Declan Arthurs, 21. See PA story ULSTER Loughgall. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Sinn Fein leader for Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill takes part in a march to Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting dead of eight IRA members and bystander Anthony Hughes in an SAS ambush in Loughgall, Co Armagh. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday April 30, 2017. The IRA members killed were Jim Lynagh, 32; Padraig McKearney, 32; Gerard O'Callaghan, 29; Tony Gormley, 25; Eugene Kelly, 25; Patrick Kelly, 32; Seamus Donnelly, 19; and Declan Arthurs, 21. See PA story ULSTER Loughgall. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Photographs of the eight IRA members and bystander Anthony Hughes who were killed in an SAS ambush in Loughgall, Co Armagh, are held by people taking part in a march to Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

Photographs of the eight IRA members and bystander Anthony Hughes who were killed in an SAS ambush in Loughgall, Co Armagh, are held by people taking part in a march to Cappagh, Co Tyrone, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the shooting. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.