Sunday 15 July 2018

Anger as Taoiseach visits Derry with 'on the run' mayor

Leo Varadkar and mayor Gerry McMonagle in Derry. Photo: Trevor McBride
Leo Varadkar and mayor Gerry McMonagle in Derry. Photo: Trevor McBride

Leona O'Neill

The niece of an IRA murder victim said she was "shocked and outraged" after a man once accused in Westminster of murdering her uncle joined the Taoiseach during an official visit to Derry.

Controversial Donegal Mayor Gerry McMonagle stood shoulder to shoulder with Leo Varadkar during the visit on Saturday morning.

In 2012, DUP MP Jim Shannon used parliamentary privilege to accuse Mr McMonagle, known as William Gerard McMonagle, of the IRA murder of part-time UDR man Hugh 'Lexie' Cummings in 1982.

Mr Cummings (39) died in a hail of bullets as he drove home for lunch from the menswear shop where he worked in Strabane, Co Tyrone.

A week later, Mr McMonagle was arrested and remanded in custody until he was brought to trial a year later.

When the trial started, Mr McMonagle was released because papers were not properly countersigned and was promptly rearrested as he left court.

After being released for a second time, Mr McMonagle fled over the Border, moving to Donegal, where he became a Sinn Féin councillor, then Mayor of Donegal.

On Saturday, Mr McMonagle, who was listed as an 'on the run' in 2003, was back in the North going walkabout with Mr Varadkar in Derry.

Mr Cummings' niece, Shelley Gilfillan, said she was "shocked" and "angry" that Mr McMonagle was back in the North.

"I'm so angry that he was able to walk about with the Taoiseach and I would like to know what the Taoiseach has got to say about this... The Taoiseach and his staff should have done their research."

A Sinn Féin spokesperson said: "Gerry McMonagle was accompanying An Taoiseach in his democratically elected capacity as the Cathaoirleach of Donegal County Council under the auspices of the North West Strategic growth partnership."

The Taoiseach's office was contacted but declined to comment on the matter.

Irish Independent

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