Unionist MLA criticises absence of Sinn Féin mayor at Belfast ceremony


THE TRADITIONAL laying of wreaths took place yesterday during the annual Remembrance Sunday event in Belfast.

The ceremony was observed at City Hall in a tribute to those who have died in the two World Wars and other conflicts.

Deputy lord mayor Ruth Patterson of the Democratic Unionist Party led the event at Belfast’s Cenotaph in the grounds of City Hall, which was also attended by First Minister Peter Robinson, Northern Secretary Owen Paterson and PSNI Chief Constable Matt Baggott.

It began at 11am with the official Act of Remembrance and traditional laying of wreaths.

A two-minute silence was also observed.

East Belfast Ulster Unionist MLA Michael Copeland criticised Belfast lord mayor Niall Ó Donnghaile of Sinn Féin for not attending. “The lord mayor has shown a total inability to act with the impartiality that his high office demands,” he said.

“I am saddened that in this day and age he could be so churlish regarding the sacrifice made by the men and women of Ireland during the Great War and subsequent conflicts.

“He has taken the chain of office, he has taken the money and he has taken the fancy car but failed in his duty to represent a significant section of the community who value remembrance.

“Perhaps he should take the responsibility that accompanies his position.”

Mr Ó Donnghaile laid a wreath during the commemoration of the Battle of the Somme at City Hall earlier this year and at the time said his party would consider attending future war remembrance events if “changes” were made to their format, which he said were “too politicised”.

“There would be a number of issues that would have to change at this point; primarily, the issue of remembrance should be a civic one as opposed to being a political one,” he said.

“But that’s something that needs to be looked at in the time ahead and Sinn Féin, I don’t think, ever rules anything out.”