Sinn Fein Lord Mayor will visit battlefields of Somme

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The Sinn Fein Lord Mayor of Belfast will visit graves of Ulstermen who died in the First World War.

Mairtin O Muilleoir confirmed to the News Letter yesterday that he plans to travel to see the graves and the Battle of the Somme site with former Ulster Unionist councillor Ian Adamson.

Several years ago, Belfast Sinn Fein councillor Tom Hartley travelled to visit the battle site alongside former PUP leader David Ervine, but not in an official capacity.

Mr O Muilleoir said: “It is a great honour to be invited by an exemplary peacemaker and Belfast leader like Dr Ian Adamson to pay respect to the dead, war and to pledge that young lives will be lost no more in wars in far-flung fields or at home.”

Earlier this year Mr O Muilleoir told the News Letter shortly after his election as Lord Mayor that he is in talks with the Royal British Legion about attending a war memorial service. If he does this, he will be the first Sinn Fein member to do so. Mr O Muilleoir said: “They are working with me on that. Let’s not rule anything out.”

The businessman had a great grandfather who died fighting in the First World War. His funeral in 1916 was one of the last British military funerals on Belfast’s Falls Road.

Yesterday Mr O Muilleoir launched his vision for Belfast. Among plans for his term include a technology trade mission to Silicon Valley in California, a business mission to New York, appointing a poet laureate for Belfast, hosting a civic forum on tackling poverty, promoting the Irish language as a “shared treasure” and promoting Belfast ambassador awards – the first of which has been presented to actor Liam Neeson.