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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 March 2008, 18:31 GMT
IRA Gibraltar woman event blocked
Farrell was one of three IRA members shot dead by the SAS
Farrell was one of three IRA members shot dead by the SAS
New rules have been adopted which mean the blocking of a Sinn Féin event at Stormont's Long Gallery to celebrate the life of IRA member Maireád Farrell.

Functions in the Long Gallery now need the cross-community backing of three MLAs under the interim rules.

The only member to object at the Assembly Commission, which runs the estate, was Sinn Féin's Paul Butler.

The function due is now expected to go ahead in the Sinn Féin party office at Stormont on Friday.

However, the commission has banned cameras from being brought upstairs to the room in a bid to limit any publicity.

The cross-party body had been asked to rule on the event, to mark International Women's Day. A number of meetings on the issue earlier this week had been postponed.

If the building at Stormont cannot be a shared space that reflects the history and culture of all the people in society then it must become a neutral space
Jennifer McCann
Sinn Féin
Farrell was shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar in 1988 along with two other IRA members.

Keys to a car found in her handbag led to the discovery in Spain of five packages of Semtex explosive.

She was jailed between 1976 and 1986 for the bombing of the Conway Hotel in Dunmurry, outside Belfast.

Event organiser Jennifer McCann, a Sinn Féin assembly member, said the committee's decision was "unfair and undemocratic".

"If the building at Stormont cannot be a shared space that reflects the history and culture of all the people in society then it must become a neutral space - it cannot continue to reflect one tradition and one culture," she said.

However, SDLP chief whip Patsy McGlone said it was "an abuse of devolution to turn the assembly into an arena for sterile sectarian stand-offs and macho posturing".

"The interim proposal adopted by the commission - that events organised in Parliament Buildings must have the support of three cross-community MLAs - is a sensible measure that will allow time to develop a permanent solution," he said.

Ulster Unionist deputy leader Danny Kennedy said he was relieved common sense had prevailed.

He said he did not regard Farrell as being a suitable person to commemorate on International Women's Day, "given that she had been a dedicated republican terrorist".





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