UUP leader weighs into Curran row

ULSTER Unionist Leader, Mike Nesbitt, is the lastest to speak out on the Brendan Curran row.

The former broadcaster-turned-politician is the most high profile name to weigh in on the debate so far.

In an article in the Leader in October, Councillor Curran 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 a five-point proposal was approved by Banbridge District Council, asking the Knockiveagh Councillor, who was elected in 2010, to withdraw his comments and apologise during a heated debate in the Council Chamber last month - something he has refused to do.

Now the UUP leader has commented on the debate, following a meeting he held with member of South Down Action for Healing Wounds in Rathfriland.

In a letter to the Leader Mr Nesbitt said, “(At the meeting) I offered thoughts on the Ulster Unionist Party’s attitude to the need for a Reconciliation process to deal with our troubled past. In summary, my Party says “yes” to the need, “yes” to committing to play our part, but a big “no” to the current proposals on offer from Sinn Fein.

“In that context, I was appalled to be briefed by the innocent victims support group regarding remarks by Sinn Fein Councillor Brendan Curran reported in this newspaper. It appears Mr Curran lives in denial.

“Let me be clear: there was an alternative to violence. No one needed to die, and no one needs to carry the physical and mental scars they will bear to the grave, in order to reach the new political arrangements we have today.

“There can be no credible Reconciliation process until people like Councillor Curran find the courage to admit their violence was both needless and wrong, and accept they set an example still followed by others, including the so-called dissidents who murdered David Black on the M1 on November 1.”