Dromore Ulster Unionists have reacted with outrage to comments made by local MLA Basil McCrea during the debate about the ‘on-the-runs’ in the Assembly.
Last week the Assembly held a heated debate about the revelation that letters were sent to 187 Republican suspects in relation to the possibility they would not face criminal charges.
During the debate Lagan Valley MLA Mr McCrea said politicians must “draw a line under the past.”
He continued: “We have two options: we either lurch from crisis to crisis, driven by the politics of the past or, we can draw a line under it and move forward.”
“The only way Northern Ireland will have a future is if we draw a line under the past. We must find a way of binding together the remaining strands of the Agreement which is unbiased.
“Such a move will be difficult for victims; they must receive all the support the Government can offer, yet, to do nothing is to subject Northern Ireland to at best, forever bitter, corrosive and ineffectual politics and at worst a return to violence.
“The post-1998 political process in Northern Ireland must be redirected to pursue the common good rather than address narrower interests, to be oriented towards our future rather than defined by our past.”
However, it was Mr McCrea’s use of the phrase “those whom some call terrorists” that has caused outrage in his former party.
“These comments are absolutely disgraceful,” said Dromore Councillor Carol Black. “There can be no doubt that the IRA and other paramilitary organisations are terrorists. The definition of a terrorist is clearly defined in the Terrorism Act 2000, it is not a matter of interpretation.
“These comments re-enforce the lie propagated by Sinn Fein that terrorism is in the eye of the beholder. This lie must be challenged by unionist politicians - not parroted.
“I call upon Mr McCrea to quickly clarify these comments,” she continued. “Many of the people who voted for Mr McCrea would be very disturbed by these comments.
“They are also disturbed by the increasingly close association between Mr McCrea and Sinn Fein.
“In the past few months Mr McCrea has supported calls for an amnesty for terrorists, attended a number of Sinn Fein events and now he seems to suggest that there is ambiguity around whether the IRA are terrorists. Some people will be questioning where Mr McCrea stands on this issue,” concluded Ms Black.