Unionist politicians have expressed outrage at a picture of IRA men posing with rifles at a controversial monument in south Armagh.
Hundreds of militant republicans will tomorrow gather at the monument in Crossmaglen to commemorate dead IRA bomber Sean O'Callaghan.
Sinn Féin is supporting a grant application for the monument to be refurbished with up to £30,000 of tax-payers' money. The party claims it's not an IRA statue but a neutral tourist attraction.
But the Newsletter has obtained a copy of a painting that shows five well-known, heavily armed IRA men in full combat gear on 'active service' at the monument which honours those who died fighting for "Irish freedom".
Those pictured include Brendan Burns who was involved in the 1979 Warrenpoint massacre in which 18 British soldiers were killed; Thomas McMahon who was convicted of the murder of the Queen's cousin, Lord Mountbatten; and ex-Sinn Féin MLA and convicted IRA man Pat McNamee.
Last night, Mr McNamee said he was "immensely proud" of the painting which appeared widely in Sinn Féin publications, including the party magazine Iris, for propaganda and fund-raising purposes in the 1980s.
It raised tens of thousands of pounds for the IRA when sold to republican sympathisers in the US and other foreign countries.
TUV leader, Jim Allister, said the painting was "disgraceful" and no public money should be spent on the monument.
"The depiction of known terrorists armed to the teeth makes a mockery of Sinn Féin's ludicrous claims that this isn't an IRA monument," he said.
"It's particularly disturbing that Lord Mountbatten's murderer is glorified in this picture given that the Queen is visiting us next week."
"The fact this painting was sold to IRA sympathisers in the US, and appeared in a terror calendar, will outrage innocent victims of violence."
Sinn Féin Agriculture Minister, Michelle O'Neill, deemed the monument eligible for a grant. Party colleague, Conor Murphy, said it was a "tourist attraction" and branded anyone claiming it was an IRA memorial "ill-informed".
DUP MEP Diane Dodds said: "Conor Murphy's claim this monument is a tourist attraction has as little credibility as his recent evidence to a Fair Employment tribunal."
She said the DUP strongly opposed public money being spent on a republican monument " in an area which suffered terribly in the IRA's terrorist campaign".
UUP MLA Danny Kennedy said: "This painting irrefutably proves the monument is a shrine to republican terrorism. Law-abiding people find Sinn Féin's suggestion of public funding for this memorial offensive.
"They're also horrified at the jamboree taking place for IRA bomber O'Callaghan in Crossmaglen tomorrow."
Ex-Sinn Féin MLA Pat McNamee will be addressing the rally commemorating Sean O'Callaghan.
"Former colleagues in Sinn Féin want to sanitise IRA monuments and forget about people like Sean O'Callaghan but many of us oppose the lies of whitewashing the past.
"Let's not pretend Sinn Féin were always good constitutional nationalists – they weren't," Mr McNamee said.
Former Sinn Féin politician Jim McAllister, who is helping organise tomorrow's rally, said the painting had raised tens of thousands of pounds for the Provisional movement.
"It was very popular with supporters because it was one of the only images of unmasked IRA men – real people known in the community – during the conflict."
The picture was painted in 1984 by one of the five depicted IRA members, Lucas Quigley, when they were all in Portlaoise jail.
The Southern Organisation for Action in Rural Areas (SOAR) is considering the grant application for the monument made by the 'Crossmaglen Memorial Heritage Committee.'