A FACEBOOK post by the Protestant Coalition linking the Omagh bomb to a Catholic feast day has been described as “despicable” by a man who lost his wife in the Real IRA atrocity.
Last Thursday, the 15th anniversary of the Omagh bomb, a post on the loyalist political party’s Facebook page featured an image of the carnage left in wake of the bomb, and stated that August 15 was also one of the main days in the Roman Catholic calendar – The Feast of the Assumption.
It stated, “Celebrated every year on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary commemorates the death of Mary and her bodily assumption into Heaven!!!!! Many RC atrocities world-wide occur on this day…”
The post concluded by asking Facebook users to “Share the truth folks!”
Kevin Skelton, who lost his wife Philomena in the 1998 attack said the message was in “very bad taste”.
“I don’t know what they are trying to prove by it. It doesn’t represent the vast majority of people out there, there’s no question. Thank god they are a minority.”
The Protestant Coalition, which features Willie Frazer among its founding members, styles itself as an “anti-politics”, loyalist political party.
On Friday Mr Frazer appeared to distance himself from the post, which was removed from Facebook the same day, stating that he had been unaware of it and did not understand why the bombing and the religious feast day were being linked.
“We shouldn’t be doing that, that’s my own personal feeling,” he said, stating that the party would investigate the matter.
“That is not the road we want to go down, this is not about Catholic and Protestant. And although we call ourselves the Protestant Coalition, that’s doesn’t mean we have a problem with people who are Roman Catholic.”
The Protestant Coalition page was temporarily taken down by Facebook last month, prompting Mr Frazer to visit the company’s Dublin headquarters in protest.
‘CATHOLIC TERROR GANG’
The organisation originally named Jim Dowson of the far right Britain First organisation and former BNP fundraiser as its leader when it registered as a political party in April.
On Friday Mr Dowson said that while he personally did not like the post, he maintained that the Omagh bombing had been carried out by “a Catholic terror gang”.
He also claimed that “a lot of atrocities” had been carried out on August 15 over the centuries, but declined to name any specific incidents.
“The people who done (sic) it were a Catholic terror gang, they weren’t an Islamic terror gang, they weren’t a Jewish terror gang, they weren’t a Protestant terror gang,” he said.
“Have you ever heard of a Muslim Irish Republican terror gang? The fact is Irish Republicans are Roman Catholic, that’s the reality, it’s not our fault, it’s a reality, face it,” he stated.
Originally from Scotland, Mr Dowson now lives in Comber, Co Down where his use of the Internet is restricted while he awaits trial on charges arising out of the union flag dispute.
“The minute you try and point out the reality that the republican movement was also a Roman Catholic populated movement, there’s a problem,” he claimed.
But Kevin Skelton, who runs the ‘Families Moving On’ victims support group in Omagh said, “Bringing religion in where Omagh is concerned is despicable, that’s being honest about it.
“They are not being very sensitive and they are not doing anything for victims as far as I’m concerned,” he continued.
“It brings sectarianism into it, but the bomb in Omagh didn’t discriminate. It didn’t care who you were.”