Plan to light up Belfast City Hall for NI centenary blocked by Sinn Fein

·3-min read

A plan to light up Belfast City Hall to mark the centenary of the formation of Northern Ireland has been scuppered by Sinn Fein.

Northern Ireland was formed following the partition of Ireland in 1921, a move that devastated Irish nationalists living in the region as a severing from the rest of the island.

There was a proposal from the Northern Ireland Office that Belfast City Council City Hall be lit up green and blue to mark the centenary year as part of a UK wide move.

It would have come on the same day as a cross-community church service of reflection at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh.

The DUP has hit back, accusing Sinn Fein of “showing no respect for unionists”.

Northern Ireland centenary
(left to right) A service to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Armagh (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sinn Fein’s group leader on the council Ciaran Beattie slammed the partition of Ireland as “nothing to celebrate for those from an Irish nationalist background”.

He claimed the move to illuminate City Hall for the partition was “entirely political and triumphalist”.

“It would have an adverse impact on those from an Irish nationalist background in the city,” he said.

“Those involved in proposing illuminating Belfast City Hall to celebrate partition consciously disregarded the procedures, which outline clearly that there must agreement in the Strategic, Policy and Resource Committee to illuminate the building for an issue of a contentious nature.

“Further, the proposal to illuminate Belfast City Hall was not included in the Council’s Decade of Centenary’s programme agreed by all parties.

“The Decade of Centenaries programme has a core basic principle, balance.

“The addition of this late request would create an imbalance in providing exclusively for a Unionist viewpoint and without the space for any counter-narrative.

“To proceed with the decision to illuminate Belfast City Hall without due process and recognition of the Decade of Centenaries principles will cause hurt in the City and disregard previously agreed council policy on remembering historical events.”

DUP councillor Brian Kingston accused Sinn Fein of “petty mindedness”.

“This request came in late, part of a nationwide lighting up of civic buildings to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland and a majority of councillors through their party group leaders have supported this request,” he told the BBC.

“We have had a number of events commemorating the centenary of Northern Ireland, some of which Sinn Fein have taken part in so it really is just petty they have blocked this.

“It will come up at committee tomorrow morning, I’m hoping that we will get agreement to have another debate.

“It’s just an anti-British move from Sinn Fein, they talk about tolerance and respect but they show no respect for the unionist of people of Northern Ireland.”

TUV North Belfast candidate Ron McDowell accused Sinn Fein of a lack of respect towards unionists.

“This is but a foretaste of how my community would be treated in Republicanism’s mythical all-Ireland.

“Where’s the equality?

“Where’s the parity of esteem?

“There’s no point talking about creating shared space when there are some you don’t deem worthy of any space”.

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