Sinn Fein have hit out at unionist politicians for not adopting an inclusive approach to next year’s anniversary commemorations.
At issue is the rejection of a Sinn Fein amendment to proposals for marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme which would have seen a working group set up to look at all of next year’s commemorations - including the centenaries of both the battle of the Somme and the 1916 Easter Rising.
SF Cllr Keith Haughian commented, “Council had an opportunity to be inclusive and respectful of all, when commemorating important historical events.
“As Irish Republicans, of course we want to commemorate 1916 and the Easter rising, but we also recognise the huge significance of 1916 for many others. Many will want to remember and commemorate the Somme, they should be able to do so.
“Our amendment to the DUP motion was an attempt to reflect the diverse views of people throughout this borough. We want to move forward in an inclusive manner.”
Mr Haughian concluded, “Unionist politicians turned down the opportunity of setting up an inclusive working group which would look at all centenaries happening in 2016. Instead they opted to set up a group which would only serve one set of interests and beliefs.
“As members of a government body we have a duty to uphold section 75 and our own good relations strategy, in my opinion both were ignored.
“The Easter rising of 1916 is of significant importance to republicans and nationalists in this borough. It is vital that in moving forward a working group is set up to examine how we as a council can commemorate the Easter rising next year.
“We would hope the unionist members of the council would show the same respect to commemorating other events in 1916 as we have shown to the Somme.”
The proposed amendment was as follows: “That Armagh City Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council in recognition of a number of upcoming anniversaries and centenaries of significant historical and cultural importance to its constituents, in conjunction with relevant stakeholder groups, formulate a working group consisting of members and relevant council officers tasked with examining ways in which to respectfully commemorate those events.
“The terms of reference for the group will be to bring forward proposals and recommendations on how the council should, bearing in mind it’s Section 75 responsibilities, commemorate in a dignified and inclusive way those occasions through the organisation of events within the Council area, and that a budget be decided by this council after the initial investigations and meeting of the working group to discuss possible events and initiatives.”