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Bloody Sunday relative says Brexit is not worth taking a life over

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Mickey McKInney, whose brother was shot dead on Bloody Sunday (Michael McHugh/PA)


Mickey McKInney, whose brother was shot dead on Bloody Sunday (Michael McHugh/PA)

A campaigner whose brother was shot dead on Bloody Sunday has urged paramilitaries not to take any lives because of Brexit.

Mickey McKinney’s brother Willie was a keen amateur photographer who was taking pictures of the civil rights demonstration when he was gunned down almost 50 years ago.

Soldier F is the sole former serviceman charged in connection with the deaths of civilians in Londonderry in January 1972.

Mr McKinney said: “Peace is very important to all of us.”

No one has the right to take a life. My brother paid the ultimate price
Mickey McKinney

The issue of Brexit is dominating the General Election race in the city in the north-west of Northern Ireland, just a few miles from the Irish border.

The political battle is focused between a Remainer who wants to see his party retake the seat they lost in 2017, and a rival who also opposes Brexit but believes in abstaining from Westminster votes.

Police have warned that dissident republicans opposed to the peace process could take advantage of any post-Brexit customs posts at the border to renew their violence.

Mr McKinney said: “No one has the right to take a life. My brother paid the ultimate price.”

Londonderry, or Derry as most of its inhabitants know it, falls into Foyle constituency and was where the Troubles conflict first exploded into violence in 1969.

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Former Foyle MP Elisha McCallion is part of Sinn Fein’s new generation (John Stillwell/PA)

Foyle parliamentary candidate Elisha McCallion is part of Sinn Fein’s new generation, untouched by direct participation in past IRA actions.

She believes her two years as a sitting MP has borne fruit for Derry, and says a city for decades ravaged by deprivation is in the process of leveraging much needed new investment.

Foyle is primarily nationalist and two of the contenders for the seat, Ms McCallion and SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, are both agreed on the republican aspiration.

Ms McCallion said Irish unity was what people on the doorsteps of the city which includes the Bogside and Creggan wanted to talk about.

She said the need for a united Ireland following Brexit was recognised far outside her party’s traditional supporters.

“I am not saying that we have convinced a majority of unionists but there are some very pragmatic Ulster Protestants who have begun to be involved in the conversation as well.

“The picture that we see from political unionism where they are choosing to stick their head in the sand and ignore what is happening around them is not reflective of the conversations happening on the ground, albeit that we need a lot more of them.”

The debate between Mr Eastwood and Ms McCallion is around Sinn Fein’s policy of abstentionism, where the party represents its constituents but refuses to take its seats in Parliament.

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Colum Eastwood firmly believes the place of the Foyle MP is in Westminster arguing against Brexit (Niall Carson/PA).

Mr Eastwood firmly believes the place of the Foyle MP is in Westminster arguing against Brexit.

A previous leader of the SDLP, Mark Durkan, came within 169 votes of defending Foyle in the 2017 general election, a seat held by the party for almost four decades.

Mr Eastwood said: “Sinn Fein seem to have no problem taking expenses from Westminster but they seem to have a problem walking in through the front door.

“it is difficult to watch when key votes around Brexit were happening when people in England, who do not care about here, were determining our future because our people were not being represented.

“Sinn Fein MPs were standing out on the (College) Green doing interviews. I think people find that difficult to watch.

“I am a very strong Remainer, I will vote to try to stop Brexit if possible, and will always vote to protect us from a bad Brexit.”

He added: “You can have someone speaking up for you, or you can have someone speaking up and voting on your behalf, and that is a simple choice.”

PA

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