'Bring back the IRA' comments prompt complaint to Policing Board

Policing Board Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption The PCSP said a "complaint had been received"

An official complaint has been made to the NI Policing Board after a community worker's "bring back the IRA" comments.

The remarks were made in a Facebook post by Derry and Strabane Policing and Community Safety Partnership (PCSP) representative Martin Connolly.

The message was posted after a large bonfire in Londonderry which was widely condemned.

Mr Connolly has since apologised on Facebook and said his comments were "inappropriate".

On Sunday, a Policing Board spokesperson confirmed: "A complaint has been received".

Last week, a 'pipe bomb' was thrown at a police patrol near the scene of the controversial Bogside bonfire overnight in the city.

A number of homes on Charlotte Street were evacuated during the subsequent security alert.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Nationalist politicians have criticised the bonfire, which was bedecked in union flags and Sinn Féin election posters

In the post made on social media, Mr Connolly called the burning of "photographs of republican leadership" a "disgrace".

He criticised the youths behind the bonfire and the "attack on our community".

Mr Connolly added: "In my opinion, bring back the IRA".

'Frustration and anger'

DUP MLA Gary Middleton told BBC Radio Foyle that the comments were "disgraceful".

"There are times when we can be frustrated but what we don't do is call for terrorist organisations to be brought back.

"He was in a position of responsibility and I think the Policing Board urgently need to investigate it," he said.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Part of the Lecky Road in Derry was blocked, causing disruption to traffic

Mr Connolly, a community worker, has since posted an apology on Facebook and said his remarks were made in the "heat of the moment".

"I would now like to comment on the post that I made out of frustration and anger after witnessing the wanton destruction of property and anti-social behaviour caused by a bonfire which was against the wishes of the local community, the community I grew up in," said Mr Connolly.

"I realised that this post was inappropriate and I took it down. The IRA has gone and is not coming back and I fully support the Sinn Féin peace and political strategy.

"Anyone who knows me and works with me is well aware that this has been, and will continue to be, my consistent position.

"Community problems should be resolved through inclusive dialogue," he added.

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