A political row has broken out over comments made on social media by Sinn Fein’s Oliver McMullan regarding the murder of Kevin McGuigan.
Mr McGuigan died after he was shot at his home in the Short Strand area of Belfast earlier this month.
In the wake of the killing, PSNI chief constable George Hamilton said the Provisional IRA still exists and that some of its members were involved in the murder.
Following the headline-making statement by the Chief constable, a comment was posted on East Antrim MLA Oliver McMullan’s Twitter account reading: “RUC/PSNI should deal in facts not speculation.”
The message, which has since been deleted, caused a storm on social media and Mr McMullan has been roundly criticised.
Mid and East Antrim UUP councillor Andy P Wilson posted: “Local MLA hedges his bets on murder.#disgrace.”
Fellow Ulster Unionist representative, East Antim MLA Roy Beggs has challenged Mr McMullan to clarify the meaning behind the tweet.
In a statement to the Times, Mr Beggs said: “Mr McMullan needs to tell us what he means.
“Firstly, why is he using the phrase RUC/PSNI? This is explicitly linking the PSNI with the RUC.
“Sinn Fein were meant to have signed up to policing and support for the PSNI.
“They did not support the RUC and of course the Provisional IRA, to whom Sinn Fein were inextricably linked, murdered 277 RUC officers in a murderous 30-year terrorist campaign.
“Mr McMullan needs to explain exactly what he means when he deliberately joins the two names together, given Sinn Fein’s past history.
“He should also spell out what part of the police statement on the McGuigan murder he considers not to be factual.”
In response to Mr Beggs’ criticism, the Sinn Fein MLA accused the Ulster Unionist Party of “cynically using the killing of Kevin McGuigan for their own ends”.
He told the Times: “I’ll be taking no lectures from Roy Beggs or his party.
“This is the very same party who on an almost weekly basis stands beside the political representatives of the UVF and UDA at Twadell in North Belfast.
“This is despite the murder of Bobby Moffett, the attempted murder of Jemma McGrath, the murder of Brian McIlhagga, UDA recruitment leaflets being circulated in Coleraine and both paramilitary organisations being active in the Larne area.
“If Roy Beggs and his party were as exercised about that, I might be inclined to believe that this isn’t faux outrage from political unionism,” Mr McMullan concluded.