THERE is no difference between the murder of a Garda officer and an RUC officer, an SDLP MLA said on Thursday.
The SDLP’s Policing spokesperson Conall McDevitt was responding to comments made by Sinn Fein’s national chairman Declan Kearney and MLA Mitchell McLoughlin on reconciliation and the murder of police officers.
The debate was opened on Tuesday when Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams apologised in the Dail for the IRA murders of Gardai Ben Sullivan and Jerry McCabe.
It followed the shotgun murder of Garda Detective Adrian Donohoe last Friday night in Dundalk.
However, the former west Belfast MP stopped short of apologising for the murders of RUC officers during over 30 years of the Troubles.
It has led for calls from unionist politicians and RUC widows for the Louth TD to issue an apology to call security force victims of IRA violence.
The SDLP south Belfast MLA said on Thursday: “Sinn Fein keeps telling us they want to build reconciliation but yet refuse to acknowledge that truth and reconciliation are two sides of the same coin.
“You cannot build a reconciled society on historic revisionism and retrospective justification of indefensible acts.
“The SDLP would question whether the republican movement is really committed to building a new reconciled and prosperous Ireland or are they just looking to rewrite history and dress it up as progress.
“The murders of police officers north and south were illegitimate and illegal acts. They were all wrong and all unjustifiable. It is frankly sickening that Sinn Fein would now seek to make a differentiation between the murder of a Garda and that of an RUC Officer.
“Nationalists across this Island will abhor any attempt to distinguish between the deaths of any person who is attempting to uphold the rule of law. How do they ever expect to be seen as credible partners in reconciliation when they make statements like this?
“The vested interests of those with something to hide in republicanism and elsewhere are holding back our society. We remain available to meet all parties to discuss how we build and ethical truth and reconciliation process. We call on others to stop the so called megaphone diplomacy and sit down with a view to jointly resolving to build a reconciled society,” he added.