Mayor under fire over Easter Rising commemoration

The advertisement for the Easter Rising commemoration in Armagh, featuring Lord Mayor Keating

The advertisement for the Easter Rising commemoration in Armagh, featuring Lord Mayor Keating

The lord mayor of Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon has been accused of “showing scant regard” for his office after appearing in an advertisement for an Easter Rising commemoration.

Sinn Féin councillor Garath Keating is to be the main speaker at the event on Easter Sunday, April 16 in Ballymacnab in Co Armagh.

The DUP supplied what appears to be an advertisement for the event, prominently featuring Mr Keating in the chains of the lord mayor’s office, although it is as yet unclear exactly who is responsible for the advertisement.

Mr Keating is currently in the USA and, as such, the council was unable to confirm whether he will be attending the event in his capacity as lord mayor.

The DUP group leader at the council, Mark Baxter, said: “The unionist community will be both disgusted and enraged at the sight of the latest propaganda poster of Lord Mayor Garath Keating attending and speaking at such an event.

“The privileged role of the Office of Lord Mayor is one that should be respected and carried out with a degree of decorum and dignity. It is one in which the office bearer should represent everyone in the borough with an inclusive nature.

“Lord Mayor Keating has shown scant regard for this office and his year is clearly tainted by publicly glorifying terrorism.

“I would call on him to reflect on his decision to speak at such an event, given his role as first citizen for the council borough.”

While Mr Keating is out of the country and could not be contacted for comment, his party did respond to Mr Baxter’s concerns.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson said: “Everyone has the right to hold commemorations in a respectful and dignified manner as enshrined in the Good Friday Agreement. Sinn Féin councillor Garath Keating will be the main speaker at the commemoration. He has previously attended events throughout the borough in his capacity as mayor to commemorate milestone events in history of the island, including events to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.”