Rathfriland man signs letter condemning New York mayor’s ‘obscene’ Gerry Adams Day tribute.

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Rathfriland man Sammy Heenan has spoken publicly about his hurt and annoyance over New York Mayor Bill De Blasio naming St Patrick's Day 2018 as Gerry Adams Day.

Speaking to The Outlook, Mr Heenan said the mayor's decision was "grotesque" and at first he did not believe that he could have made such a decision.

Former president of Sinn Fein, Mr Adams was at the breakfast event held on St Patrick's Day in New York, also attended by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Mr De Blasio paid tribute to Mr Adams' contribution to the peace process in Northern Ireland and he was presented with a certificate naming the day 'Gerry Adams Day'.

Speaking at the event, the mayor said he honoured Mr Adams for his "lifelong pursuit of a goal that makes so much sense - a goal for a United Ireland" and that Mr Adams was an "activist who fought against injustice".

Mr Adams said he was honoured to receive the proclamation.

Anger was felt on both sides of the community in Northern Ireland following the news and Mr Heenan was among the many relatives of IRA victims who sent a letter to the mayor demanding an apology.

The letter called for the mayor to withdraw his comments and to issue a public apology.

In the letter, the families asked the mayor: "Have you any understanding of the impact your actions have had upon those of us whose lives were devastated by the Provisional IRA's murderous actions?"

Mr Heenan's father William was killed by the IRA on 3 May 1985 when he was only 12-years-old.

His father was forced to his knees and shot twice in the head at point blank range by the IRA at their Legananny home in the Dromara Hills.

Mr Heenan said: "When I first heard that the mayor of New York was honouring Gerry Adams I thought it was a joke.

"This man who has caused so much hurt and pain throughout 40 years of the Troubles was being honoured by Bill De Blasio who represents New York, the city that suffered one of the biggest terrorist attacks in 2001.

"America sends their soldiers to various parts of the world to combat terrorism and in New York, on St Patrick's Day, we had the mayor holding Mr Adams in high esteem."

Mr Heenan added: "This facilitation of revisionism within the republican movement is instigated by people such as Gerry Adams and it causes upset and hurt to the many families of the victims of the Troubles. Sinn Fein like to celebrate IRA activists and I think it is just obscene.

"I also think there is a degree of ignorance on the mayor's part. I'm not sure he fully comprehends what the IRA were capable of here in Northern Ireland."


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