COUNCIL SET TO DEBATE CURRAN COMMENTS

A BANBRIDGE councillor who said he believed “there needed to be violence” during the Troubles will be asked to withdraw his remarks when the council meets next Monday night.

The council will meet for the first time since the interview was published in the Leader last month, during which Brendan Curran, who was convicted in the 1970s of conspiracy to cause an explosion, explained his role in the “armed struggle” and his move into politics since then.

A DUP delegation on the council will call on the entire council to condemn Mr Curran’s remarks, “recognise that the comments have caused hurt and widespread offence”, reaffirm their support for the law, and ask Mr Curran to withdraw his remarks.

The Knockiveagh councillor, elected in 2010, spoke in a wide-ranging interview which included his view on Northern Ireland’s troubled past.

“There are all sorts of other factors but you never would have got here (the current political setup) without armed struggle,” he said.

Since then there has been much condemnation of the comments, including from the sister of a 19-year-old killed by loyalist paramilitaries in 1975.

Bernie Scullion, from Gilford, said, “I read this guy’s words and I think what he has said insults every single innocent person out there from both sides of the community.”

Her brother Jim Griffin was 19 when he was gunned down.

Speaking ahead of next week’s motion the DUP Council Group Members said they believe the councik’s reputation has been damaged by the comments.

“The recent comments made by Councillor Curran go far beyond what is a reasonable or acceptable discourse from a public representative.

“We are taking this course of action because we believe that the reputation of the council has been damaged through his comments and a great number of people have been hurt and offended by them.

“For a public representative to state that the so-called “armed struggle” was “necessary”, is an outrageous affront to the many innocent victims who live within the district.

“The councillor should reflect very seriously upon what he has said and withdraw the remarks, with an apology for the hurt that they have caused.

“People in Northern Ireland lived for more than thirty years with the reality of the so-called ‘armed struggle’: it meant death, violence and bloodshed.

“Throughout our district many people carry the scars, both mental and physical, of this criminal enterprise. Should Councillor Curran adopt an inflexible attitude and refuse to apologise, this will only compound the sense of hurt and offence that exists in the wider community. He must withdraw his remarks.”

Meanwhile Jonathan Murphy, a member of Banbridge Police and Community Safety Partnership, said his request for the remarks to be investigated by the Policing Board is still being considered.