Body urged to put Curran comments at top of agenda

Councillor Johnny McGibbon and Brendan Curran near the area of burnt grass at Ardowen. LM1110-137gc
Councillor Johnny McGibbon and Brendan Curran near the area of burnt grass at Ardowen. LM1110-137gc

THE local police and community liaison body is being urged to put comments made by Banbridge councillor Brendan Curran about his view that “there was no alternative” to the violence of the Troubles at the top of its agenda at a meeting tomorrow night (Wednesday).

The Police and Community Safety Partnership has been asked to look at the comments made by Mr Curran. who is a member of the body, and possibly issue “sanctions” against him.

In a letter to PCSP chair John Hanna, independent member Jonathan Murphy said the comments - which detailed Mr Curran’s view on past actions by the IRA and violence during the Troubles - cannot go “unreprimanded”.

In an open letter to the chair Mr Murphy said, “It is only after careful consideration that I have decided to take this matter to you.

“I considered that it may be interpreted as an act of intolerance, almost as bad as the comments of councillor Curran himself. However, I feel that the foundations of a shared future of cooperation and respect cannot be built on the sandy grounds such comments represent.”

Speaking to the Leader earlier this month Mr Curran, who was elected as a Knockiveagh councillor in 2010, spoke of his role in the “armed struggle” and said he believed violence was necessary as opposed to the popular peaceful civil rights movements of the time.

Mr Curran said, “There needed to be violence. There are all sorts of other factors but you never would have got here without armed struggle, because the alternative was for the nationalist people to either leave the north or drop their heads, go back into their corners and stay there.”

Following the interview’s publication one Gilford woman, whose brother was killed by the UVF in 1975 when he was just 19 years old, said the councillor’s comments were an insult to all innocent victims.

Mr Curran’s lack of strong condemnation of the dissident element still active in society also drew criticism from PCSP member Murphy.

Speaking to the Leader Mr Curran simply said, “We’ve had armed struggle; there has to be a political solution. We have the opportunity now to achieve our goal through politics, once you have that opportunity you can’t justify (violence).”

But Mr Murphy said he could not understand how Mr Curran didn’t condemn the dissidents more strongly.

He said, “The young people of our district require jobs and prospects, we require that the political situation remain peaceful for this to happen, and that our Policing and Community Safety Partnership play their part in this.

“We, the young people of the district, require that the Partnership address issues of our personal safety, of burglary, and of road safety- we have seen this first hand in the district in the last fortnight.

“We require that the PCSP and Police protect the community from Anti-Social Behaviour, while not persecuting young people in the name of reducing it. These issues are complex and require the close cooperation of PCSP members, of the PSNI, and other community and statutory organisations. Clearly, this cannot happen if one of us is so clearly opposed to the spirit of St. Andrews and if such comments go unreprimanded.”