Sinn Féin defend planned attendance at IRA commemoration
"We all have a right to remember our dead", Michelle O'Neill said.
Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O'Neill has defended party member John Finucane's planned attendance at an IRA commemoration later this week.
Finucane, who is an MP for the Belfast North constituency, will still speak at the controversial event, which is scheduled to take place in South Armagh.
The decision to attend the event has drawn criticism from the likes of Tánaiste Micheál Martin, who this week said that Sinn Féin "cannot ride two horses" when it comes to Northern Ireland.
Also included in his criticisms towards Sinn Féin on Wednesday, Mr. Martin called on his political opponents to "ask themselves some hard questions in respect of legacy".
Responding to the Fianna Fáil politician, Ms. O'Neill remarked that Northern Ireland had a "complex history" in which lives of people from across the political divide were affected.
Speaking to The Irish Times on her trip to Washington, Ms. O'Neill said that "I think we all have a right to remember our dead".
"It's important that while we do that, we ensure that we properly try to find ways to deal with the past, and we also keep looking towards the future and building a better society".
Discussing Mr. Finucane's scheduled speech at the commemoration, the Sinn Féin Vice President added that the party was "wholeheartedly committed... to reconciliation and to healing the wounds of the past".
Sinn Féin's MP Conor Murphy was another who defended Mr. Finucane's attendance at the South Armagh event, stating that the criticisms of the Belfast politician were merely "distraction politics" led by the DUP.
Mr. Murphy added that the commemoration had been running for 13 years and had received little-to-no criticism up until this point.
However, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin refuted Mr. Murphy's claims by saying "It's not distraction politics, to be fair to all concerned. I don't believe he (Finucane) should attend".
"I've met with victims from across the board... and if we the want victim-focused legacy process, Sinn Féin needs to ask itself some hard questions and needs to deal with this once and for all".
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