Councillor John McAuley, on behalf of the DUP council group, this evening responded to what he describes as an ‘unofficial commemoration’ of the fallen at the Battle of the Somme in Coleraine.
This response was made in reference to the laying of a wreath by Sinn Fein Mayor Sean Bateson at the war memorial this morning prior to the official ceremony, which Mayor Bateson did not attend.
Councillor McAuley said;
‘‘The immense sacrifice of Ulster and Irish volunteers who fought and died in the Battle of the Somme to defend the freedom and liberties that we collectively enjoy today should be something that unites our communities rather than divides them.
Instead Sinn Fein’s actions today demonstrate an unjustly qualified approach to World War One commemorations. Their calculated decision to take part in an act of remembrance outside of official mainstream events is not justified nor dignified. It sends the wrong message to current and future generations and highlights that republicans have still far to travel to evidence their commitment to a shared society.
It is high time Sinn Fein ended this begrudging approach to remembrance and practiced the respect that they are all too keen to demand of others.”