ULSTER Unionist MLA Danny Kennedy has condemned the appearance of Sean ‘The Surgeon’ Hughes at an IRA commemoration as a “disgrace”.
Mr Kennedy said that Hughes, who was arrested last week in relation to the murder of Robert McCartney and subsequently charged with IRA membership, should be released on bail and play a leading role at an IRA commemoration that same day in south Armagh.
Mr Kennedy said: “Mr Hughes’ attendance at an event glorifying terrorism only hours after being released by a Court in Belfast was an absolute disgrace.
“Not only is it a grave insult to the family and friends of Robert McCartney, it severely undermines confidence in the judicial process.
“What are the public to make of a man investigated in relation to an IRA murder cover up being bailed to attend an event to commemorate two IRA men who blew themselves up with their own bomb? Publicity surrounding the event brazenly boasted of both men’s involvement on attacks on British soldiers and advertised Sean Hughes as a speaker.
“I understand he has been charged with IRA membership. That being the case, why has he not been at the very least prohibited from attending IRA related events?
“A full investigation must now take place of what information surrounding the event in South Armagh was placed before the Court when deciding bail in this case.”
Hughes, from Aghavadoyle Road in Jonesborough, was arrested last week by police making inquiries linked to the murder of Robert McCartney in 2005.
Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy and MLAs Megan Fearon and Rosie McCorley were in the public gallery for the hearing at Belfast magistrate’s court last Friday.
The 51-year-old accused was granted bail at Belfast Magistrates Court.
As part of his bail conditions, the accused must live at his home address, report to police once a week and not contact any witnesses in the case.
Mr Hughes is also charged with speaking at a meeting and encouraging support for an illegal organisation, specifically the IRA.
Robert McCartney, a father-of-two from Belfast’s Short Strand, was stabbed to death in 2005.
The murder had major repercussions for Sinn Fein, as it was accused of obstructing justice.
Last October, another senior IRA figure, Padraic Wilson, was also charged in connection with the Robert McCartney case.
He too was charged with IRA membership and speaking at a meeting in support for a proscribed organisation.