A UKIP councillor has admitted to writing public Facebook messages saying he hoped someone would slit Gerry Adams’ throat.
Mark Staplehurst, who was elected to Hampshire County Council in last week’s local elections, told The Guardian he wrote a comment expressing his desire to have the Sinn Féin leader killed.
The ex-soldier, who claimed he “had to pick up body parts” while serving in the Northern Ireland, said he regretted his remarks, adding: “Of course I wouldn’t slit anyone’s throat … I’m a salesman, I’m not anything other than a middle-aged old man that’s trying to help local people.”
Mr Staplehurst’s Facebook profile was also linked to a comment about the murder of Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane that read: “I’m only sorry they didn’t get a few more of the sorry b******ds.”
The councillor denied he wrote the message and suggested it might have been written on his open laptop by someone else.
The Irish Post has discovered that Mr Staplehurst’s Twitter account includes two retweets published on the day British Prime Minister David Cameron issued an apology for State collusion in the 1989 killing of the Catholic father-of-three.
“It’s a damn shame the Government didn’t collude enough to wipe out all the IRA,” reads the first retweet.
The second says: “Let’s have a Sinn Féin inquiry into the Birmingham Pub Bombings where 21 (TWENTY ONE) innocent people were murdered #finucane.”
The second retweet was on the councillor’s timeline until at least 4pm yesterday, but has since been removed.
A spokesperson for UKIP confirmed that the Twitter account belongs to Mr Staplehurst and defended his decision to publish the statements.
The spokesperson said: “Though as is normally the case with retweets they did not use the language he [Mr Staplehurst] would have used himself, the idea that the perpetrators of terrorist violence and their supporters should be held to account is hardly a radical idea, nor is the desire to see a permanent end to the IRA, amongst other terror organisations that operate in Northern Ireland and elsewhere.”
After last year’s State apology, debate erupted in the House of Lords as Lord Maginnis of Drumglass claimed the Finucane family was “an IRA family” and referred to Mr Finucane, who defended several IRA hunger strikers, as “The Godfather”.
Baroness O’Loan, the North’s first police ombudsman, disputed the former Ulster Unionist MP’s allegations, saying: “Mr Finucane was not involved in IRA activity. He was a lawyer carrying out his professional duties in profoundly difficult and dangerous circumstances.”
Last week saw UKIP win a major victory in local elections by hugely outstripping expectations to seize 139 new seats on local councils in England.
Before votes were cast, Conservative cabinet member Kenneth Clarke branded the eurosceptic party’s candidates as “clowns” following an admission by UKIP leader Nigel Farage that the party was unable to vet everyone who stood under its banner.
“We don’t have the resources to trawl through absolutely everybody’s social media sites and that has led to one or two embarrassments,” he said.