26 September 2012
Unionist Bill to bar jobs to ex-prisoners backed by SDLP
Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay pointed out that when Allister was in the DUP he refused to condemn the appointment of ex-LVF member Gary Blair as a DUP party officer
THE SDLP has backed a Bill put forward by the anti-power-sharing Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) party which would see political former prisoners discriminated against in employment.
The Bill – clearly aimed at republicans – was proposed by the TUV’s only Assembly member, Jim Allister, and has the potential to bar former political prisoners from holding positions as special advisers in Stormont.
Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay highlighted the hypocrisy of Allister's proposal, noting that when he was an MEP for the Democratic Unionist Party he refused to condemn the appointment of Gary Blair as a DUP party officer. Blair, a former Loyalist Volunteer Force member, was responsible for the 1992 murder of Sinn Féin activist Malachy Carey
In 2009, the TUV leader also refused to discipline TUV party member Trevor Collins who was campaigning for the release of notorious Ulster Defence Association (UDA) serial killer Torrens Knight (pictured right) from prison in 2009. Knight was a gunman in the infamous ‘Trick or Treat Massacre’ at Greysteel, County Derry, in which eight people were shot dead in The Rising Sun Bar at Halloween, 1993.
The discriminatory bill was passed with the support of the SDLP. The Attorney General is reported to have concerns over the human rights aspect of such a Bill.
Daithí McKay added:
“This Bill undermines the Good Friday Agreement and the proposer of the motion is clearly not consistent in opposing the appointment of ex-political prisoners to positions of office when it's in an organisation that he has a leadership position in.
McKay said it was regrettable that the SDLP followed Jim Allister into the voting booths. He described the move as “a clear case of political opportunism”.
“It is obvious that former political prisoners have played a key role to date and will do in the future. No amount of political opportunism from whatever party will alter that reality,” he said.
The SDLP, in an attempt to defend their move, said later that their support for the Bill to pass to committee stage does not mean they will support it further if it “opens up possible legal challenges” or the “text is open to abuse”.
Premium Online Service For Only €10 Per Year
For less than €1 a month, you get An Phoblacht’s Premium Online Service. Sign up today!
- Full access to all An Phoblacht articles
- Interactive online PDF Booklet of each edition
- Access to our historic Archives
- Discounts for the Online Sinn Féin Shop