Alliance councillors seemingly at odds with leader on 1916 events

Alliance leader David Ford

Alliance leader David Ford

Apparent tensions have arisen within the Alliance Party over attendance at Easter Rising centenary events.

Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast Arder Carson is to host a commemoration civic dinner with Republic of Ireland president Michael D Higgins as guest of honour on April 8.

While the DUP has vowed to boycott the event - and the UUP is as yet undecided - Alliance Belfast City Council group leader Councillor Michael Long said his party would attend.

“Alliance representatives will be attending the dinner for Michael D Higgins in Belfast City Hall and we will also be attending events to mark the Somme later in the year,” he said.

“Unlike others, Alliance doesn’t pick and choose the parts of the Good Friday Agreement we want to honour, but are genuinely committed to reconciliation and building a shared future.

“Rather than political point-scoring, Alliance will take the same approach to all commemorations – to uphold the principles of reconciliation and rejection of violence.”

However, Justice Minister David Ford, leader of the Alliance Party, said he had declined an invitation from the Irish government to attend a centenary event, as he is “uncomfortable” with the state “marking the efforts of those who engaged in violence”.

He added: “My problem is - the people who murdered Adrian Ismay, the people who murdered David Black, the people who murdered Ronan Kerr, the people who murdered two Garda (Irish police) officers, would all claim to be the direct inheritors of Easter 1916. I cannot associate myself with that, as minister of justice.”

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