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Unionists welcome O Muilleoir’s attendance at Armistice Day event

Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir (second from left) pictured with the DUP's Deputy Lord Mayor Christopher Stalford.

Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir (second from left) pictured with the DUP's Deputy Lord Mayor Christopher Stalford.

Mairtin O Muilleoir stood alongside DUP Deputy Lord Mayor Christopher Stalford during yesterday’s two-minute silence.

Mr Stalford welcomed Mr O Muilleoir’s decision to attend the cenotaph.

“I think that was a positive and forward step and I hope it is a first step towards Sinn Fein embracing remembrance and all of the events that take place around that,” said Mr Stalford.

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt praised what he described as “a new attitude among Irish nationalists and some republicans” to services of remembrance.

He said: “The Northern Ireland Assembly and Northern Ireland Civil Service hold a joint service every 11th of November in the Senate Chamber at Parliament Buildings. It was pleasing to see not only that there was standing room only, but that among those standing to pay their respects were several senior figures within the SDLP, including their party leader, Alasdair McDonnell MP MLA.

“I also hear that the Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Mairtin O Muilleoir, attended the Armistice service at Belfast City Hall, thus becoming the first Sinn Fein representative to take part in an Armistice Day ceremony at City Hall.

“I consider these gestures important at a time when a generosity of spirit will be required from all political leaders if we are to succeed in our current efforts to reach agreement on the difficult issues under consideration in the Haass talks process.”

Mr O Muilleoir would not be drawn yesterday on whether a Sinn Fein representative would ever attend formal wreath laying Remembrance Sunday events in the future.

“I don’t do hypotheticals,” the mayor said, adding that yesterday was “a good day for Belfast”.

“What the future will bring I don’t know,” he said.

 

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