‘Hurt and offence’ caused by former IRA man promoting business in town he bombed

The inclusion of a former IRA town centre bomber in a council’s business support initiative has caused “hurt and offence,” according to a TUV representative.

Thursday, 21st October 2021, 6:30 am
Breandan Mac Cionnaith (rear left) helping promote ABC Council's Enterprise Week. ABC Council image

Darren Foster was commenting after Breandan Mac Cionnaith (Brendan McKenna), of the Mayfair Business Centre, appeared in a photograph being used to promote Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council’s Enterprise Week.

Mr Foster said: “Yesterday Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Council announced that businesses across the borough could sign up for a series of webinars and podcasts for Enterprise Week 2021 which runs from the 8 to the 12 November.

“Doubtless many of the events will be worthwhile but I am disgusted that the council chose to post a photo including Breandan Mac Cionnaith when promoting the event on its social media account.

“Mr Mac Cionnaith’s lasting legacy to business and enterprise in the area was his involvement in the bombing of Portadown town centre.”

Mr Mac Cionnaith served four years in prison in the 1980s for his role in a bomb attack on the Royal British Legion building in the Co Armagh town.

He came to prominence in the mid-1990s as a spokesman for the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition (GRRC).

The Orange Order representatives in Portadown at that time refused to negotiate a resolution to the Drumcree parade stand-off if the former republican prisoner was involved in the face-to-face talks.

The leaders of the Portadown lodge during the protests said they refused to speak with “terrorist spokesmen”.

Yesterday, Mr Foster said: “How on earth was a convicted bomber who visited such devastation to one of the leading towns in the area ever deemed a suitable face for this campaign?

“Has the council any appreciation of the hurt and offence caused by this?

“I have today written to the chief executive of the council demanding an explanation.”

In recent years, a number of UK national newspapers criticised former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for having shared a platform with Mr Mac Cionnaith at a Bloody Sunday commemoration in 2000.

A spokesperson for ABC Council said; “Enterprise Week is delivered by a consortium of five enterprise partners working to promote enterprise across the borough.

“Mayfair Business Centre is one of the five partners involved in this consortium”.

• A Mediation Network NI report, presented to a Westminster select committee in 2001, outlined some of the negotiating difficulties that arose from Breandan Mac Cionnaith’s involvement with the Garvaghy Road resident’s group during the Drumcree crisis.

Under the heading, ‘July 1996 – Drumcree Two’ the report states: “A meeting was convened at the Ulster Carpets factory on the Garvaghy Road.

“According to Orange sources, they agreed to send delegates on the understanding that Breandan Mac Cionnaith would not be directly involved. When they discovered his presence at the factory they left”.