The family of Sinn Fein MLA Martina Anderson have criticised the decision to make her stand down as part of a review of Sinn Fein operations in Derry.
It was revealed earlier this month that Ms Anderson and fellow Foyle Sinn Fein MLA Karen Mullan had been asked by the party to consider their positions.
This followed a review of Sinn Fein operations in Derry after a number of poor local election results.
Both Ms Anderson and Ms Mullan last week announced that they would not be standing in the next Assembly elections which are due to take place next year.
It is also understood that several leading members of the Sinn Fein management team in Derry have also been asked to step down as part of the review process.
However, Ms Anderson's family have this evening criticised how the veteran Sinn Fein politician and former republican prisoner has been treated by the party.
In a strongly-message on her Facebook page on behalf of her family, Ms Anderson's sister, Sharon Burke, said Ms Anderson had been treated in a 'brutal way' and 'publicly humiliated' by a party 'she loves and helped to build'.
“Martina asked all of us to stay away from social media and not to comment on the events that have crushed her,” Mrs Burke wrote.
“As a family we have done as she has asked and we have maintained our silence and our dignity.
“I do not believe that speaking out like I am here on behalf of our wider family is undermining our republican integrity.
“We have been and remain a very proud, staunch republican family, despite feeling very hurt.
“We are proud of all that has been achieved to take us closer to our goal of Irish reunification.
“We come from a city that has stood up against injustice and a place that has tried hard to right the wrongs that were done to it and its people.
“As a family, despite our sister not wanting us to go public, we as sisters decided to call out this wrong that is being done to our Martina.
“We do not want to cause further stress to our sister and we are sorry but we cannot keep quiet any longer and we have to be allowed to speak our minds.”
Mrs Burke's message said they believed Ms Anderson and Ms Mullan are being 'sacrificed' by Sinn Fein and 'castigated in an attempt to win back support'.
“Those who thought up that strategy could well see it backfire as the people of Derry do not like to see injustices being inflicted on anyone and as a family we do not believe that using a life long Republican as a sacrificial lamb will win back the hearts and minds of republicans in Derry.
“We Anderson’s believe if Martin Mc Guinness had been alive he would never have allowed this disgraceful tactic to be deployed. Martina had the privilege of being his junior minister. He knew her well and valued her worth.
“As Sinn Féin MLAs Karen Mullan and our Martina, two Republican women have worked their hearts out to build up the support that SF lost over the last two elections. A loss of SF support that happened when our Martina was knocking her pan out in Europe to stop partition being reinforced by BREXIT.”
Her family's message described Ms Anderson as a 'workhorse' for the republican 'struggle'.
“Indeed, our Martina gave everything to the Irish Republican struggle, including her biological clock. She is married to an ex prisoner who served over 18 years in prison, mainly in English jails. Both of them are not allowed to foster or adopt children.
“Our Martina gave all of that with a heart and a half, wearing with pride who she is and what she represents.
“This SF National leadership Review that was done in Derry resulted in a massive miscarriage of justice: they came into Derry to fix problems and left creating more.
“We believe that Derry people’s rightful outrage at what has happened has backfired on SF and has the potential of damaging our struggle in Derry and beyond, as people are rightly disgusted at seeing a life long dedicated republican being thrown under a bus for problems that she had neither art nor part in.
“The Anderson Family is calling on our wider republican family in Derry and indeed beyond to reject the way this SF leadership has publicly humiliating our sister Martina and Karen.
“The British could not do to our Martina what her comrades and friends have done.
“We the Anderson family are crying out for help; we are asking people not to use our appeal as an opportunity to bash SF but to help us correct what we believe is a massive miscarriage of justice.
“We are SF members and as republicans we must demonstrate that we live by our values of equality, respect and integrity – qualities that it pains us to say have been lacking in the treatment of our sister Martina and Karen Mullan.”
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