Colum Eastwood defends decision to carry coffin of friend Seamus Coyle

Colum Eastwood carries coffin Mr Eastwood, a former mayor of Derry, said he acted in a personal capacity

SDLP Foyle MLA Colum Eastwood has defended his decision to carry the coffin of a personal friend at a paramilitary-style funeral.

A colour party fired shots over Seamus Coyle's coffin on Tuesday. Mr Eastwood said he was not there at that stage.

Mr Eastwood, a former mayor of Derry, said he acted in a personal capacity and would do the same thing again.

"I don't think it would have made a difference whether I carried the coffin or not," he said.

"I was there to carry the coffin of somebody I knew very well.

"I wasn't concerned at the time about who was standing beside me, or about what flag or otherwise was draped over the coffin.

"What kind of peace process is it if we can't reach across the divide?"

DUP councillor Gary Middleton said he was disgusted by Mr Eastwood's decision to carry the veteran republican's coffin.

"What I'm calling for is the SDLP leader to explain the actions of one of his members and to discipline him," he said.

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