UUP surprise attack on Sinn Fein…

THE UUP has been accused by Sinn Fein of trying to criminalise republicans in its latest leaflet. It pictures Gerry Adams with half his face covered with a balaclava and accuses Sinn Fein of having consistently lied about IRA criminality. Makes a change from attacking the DUP, I suppose.Barry McCaffrey reported in the Irish News yesterday:

A bitter war of words erupted last night with Sinn Fein accusing the Ulster Unionists of attempting to criminalise its voters.

The row came after a UUP leaflet was delivered to thousands of homes accusing republicans of being responsible for a series of recent high profile robberies and murders.

In what is being seen as an early indication of what could be a bitter election campaign, the leaflet’s front cover carries a montage of Northern Bank notes, a pistol and a knife.

The inclusion of a knife is believed to relate to the murder of east Belfast man Robert McCartney, which the chief constable has said was carried out by republicans but not sanctioned by the IRA.

The centre page of the leaflet carries a mock picture of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, left, with half of his face covered by a balaclava.

The UUP leaflet says: “Until the IRA disbands, disarms and desists from all illegal activities, there can be no power-sharing executive with Sinn Fein, nor can an unreformed Sinn Fein be allowed to be involved in any aspect of policing.”

The leaflet accuses republicans of having lied over the murders of Garda Jerry McCabe and west Belfast mother Jean McConville.

“The republican movement is probably the largest organised crime network in the British Isles,” it says.

“Governments and all investigative agencies must now pursue justice with zero tolerance for criminals.

“Its time to crack down on the gangsters. Join the Ulster Unionists.”

A Sinn Fein spokesman last night accused the Ulster Unionists of attempting to criminalise Sinn Fein and its voters.

“This is just an extension of a policy being carried out by the Irish government and others to try and criminalise Sinn Fein,” he said.

“It is not surprising that the UUP has jumped on the bandwagon in their electoral battle with the DUP.

“The attempt to criminalise republicans is nothing new.”