COUNCILLORS in Dungannon have been urged to “get a grip” after a controversial notice of motion calling for the release of Gerry McGeough - who is currently serving a sentence for the attempted murder of an off-duty UDR soldier in 1981.
The off-duty soldier, Sammy Brush, is now a serving DUP councillor with Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council.
After the motion was passed at the monthly council meeting, the Victims’ Group, South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) expressed its “despair” that the notice had even managed to be permitted on the agenda.
Cllr Brush’s DUP party colleague, Fermanagh-South Tyrone MLA, Maurice Morrow, also strongly condemned the actions of Sinn Fein representatives on the council for bringing the issue forward.
In a statement, Director of Services with the Lisnaskea-based SEFF, Kenny Donaldson, said: “The motion that was passed by Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council is quite unbelievable particularly given the fact that one of its longest serving Cllr’s (Sammy Brush) was one of the innocent victims and previous focus of Gerry McGeough’s terrorist activities.
“The issue should never have got the length of the Council chamber and many people are asking questions around how certain politicians who claim to espouse democratic values could so openly back a convicted terrorist either by voting in favour of the motion to Release him or indeed from being AWOL.
“As a member of our organisation Mr Brush like many others has suffered immeasurably at the hands of terrorism - but for the Grace of God he would not be here today.
“Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council have much to do in the weeks ahead to heal the damage that has been done through this saga.
“Those who sit on that Council and indeed each and every one of us who is a member of the Northern Ireland community needs to get a grip and reclaim the word ‘Victim’ for those who were on the receiving end of terrorist campaigns of violence.”
Maurice Morrow said Sinn Fein had shown “a complete lack of judgment and sensitivity in bringing such a repugnant motion to the council chamber”.
He continued: “It was simply a verbal appeal to the core hardline republican movement to shore up support, which was carried out in a shameful and appalling manner.
“This motion was nothing less than further intimidation of Cllr Sammy Brush who has suffered relentless attacks on his home, property and person over the last number of years.”
Lord Morrow said it was “worrying” that the motion had been proposed and seconded by members of the council’s Policing and Community Partnership.
“No-one is fooled by Sinn Fein’s clarion cry of human rights simply because they are selective in their definition”, he continued.
£They call for human rights when they and their ilk are affected, but conveniently dismiss the rights of the victims. It was despicable to even suggest this motion in the very presence of the man who was shot and badly wounded whilst working as a postman.
“Cllr Brush has the scars, both mental and physical of that terrible day but he is simply passed over as a minor inconvenience to the Sinn Fein cause.”