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UKIP councillor defends angry response over Finucane apology

Pat Finucane
Pat Finucane was shot dead in 1989

A UKIP councillor has responded to criticism of angry messages he published following the British Government’s apology for state collusion in the killing of Pat Finucane.

The Irish Post revealed last week that Mark Staplehurst published two retweets on the day the historic apology was issued.

The first read: “It’s a damn shame the Government didn’t collude enough to wipe out all the IRA.”

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The second read: “Let’s have a Sinn Féin inquiry into the Birmingham Pub Bombings where 21 (TWENTY ONE) innocent people were murdered #finucane.”

Mr Staplehurst, an ex-soldier with the British Army who served in Northern Ireland, has since closed his Twitter account.

He had also previously written Facebook messages about wanting someone to ‘slit Gerry Adams’ throat’.

Speaking to The Irish Post, Mr Staplehurst defended the messages he published, saying: “Any comments made about the IRA are based on emotion like any other normal human being that has lost friends or family to them. Quite how that makes me any different to anyone else I fail to appreciate.”

The Guardian previously revealed that Mr Staplehurst’s Facebook account was also linked to an angry remark about the murdered Belfast solicitor that read:  “I’m only sorry they didn’t get a few more of the sorry b******ds.”

The councillor denied he wrote the Facebook message and suggested it might have been written on his open laptop by someone else.

John Finucane, whose murdered father is explicitly referenced in Mr Staplehurst’s second retweet, said the councillor promotion of state collusion highlighted his “ill-informed and ignorant views”.

He also disputed any suggestion that his father had been a member of the IRA.

“But more importantly than that, the victims of collusion were on all sides of the community,” he added. “If life was not as important as the information being fed to intelligence agencies, then people were allowed to die, or worse, actively targeted by the same agencies.

“This included Catholics, Protestants, civilians, police and British Army personnel. I am surprised that any credible or responsible politician would encourage this.”

UKIP tweets

UKIP has defended the Hampshire councillor’s decision to publish the two Twitter messages.

“Part of Councillor Staplehurst’s role as a member of the armed services in Northern Ireland was as a crime scene officer,” a spokesperson said.

“To that end he was responsible for dealing with the aftermath of many terrorist attacks, which at times claimed the lives of friends of his. In the light of this it is entirely understandable that he holds very negative views about terrorism, of any stripe.”

In its initial report, The Guardian also revealed that Mr Staplehurst admitted to posting a Facebook message saying he hoped someone would slip Gerry Adams’ throat.

The ex-soldier, who claimed he “had to pick up body parts” while serving in the Northern Ireland, said he regretted his remarks, adding: “Of course I wouldn’t slit anyone’s throat … I’m a salesman, I’m not anything other than a middle-aged old man that’s trying to help local people.”

Speaking to the BBC this weekend about an unrelated matter, UKIP leader Nigel Farage stated that Gerry Adams is his “least favourite politician”.

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Niall O Sullivan
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Niall O’Sullivan is a reporter at The Irish Post. You can follow him on @Niall_IrishPost on Twitter

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