Doug Beattie: Sinn Fein incredibly small-minded and mean over NI centenary event
Doug Beattie has accused Sinn Fein having an “incredibly small-minded and mean” approach to the NI centenary commemorations.
However, the Ulster Unionist leader believes the republican party’s actions in recent months could result in people looking for “a better form of representative politics”.
He said: “I was delighted to be able to attend the cross-community church service in Armagh to mark the centenary of the formation of Northern Ireland.
“It showed that people can reach out the hand of friendship and take genuine steps towards strengthening reconciliation ... without diminishing their own identity. It was done in a very respectful manner and I thank the church leaders for organising it.”
Mr Beattie compared the cross-community act of reconciliation to Sinn Fein’s obstructionist policy.
“The decision by Sinn Fein to block the illumination of Parliament Buildings to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland, and then their move to call-in the lighting up of Belfast City Hall, is incredibly small-minded and mean,” he said.
“Added to their refusal to allow a small memorial stone or a single centenary rose in the grounds of the Stormont estate, these cynical moves are deliberately insensitive and disrespectful. However, it is very helpful in exposing Sinn Fein`s claims about wanting to create ‘an Ireland of equals’ as being nothing more than a mirage.
“They seem incapable of even showing a modicum of respect to the pro-Union population of Northern Ireland. If this is the way that people of a pro-Union view are treated by Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland today, you can only imagine what would face them in a united Ireland.”
Mr Beattie added: “What I do hope is that it motivates people right across Northern Ireland to look for a better form of representative politics that leaves behind the narrow-mindedness demonstrated by Sinn Fein.”
Following the church service in Armagh on Thursday, Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said: “It was wrong for Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to attend this partition event. The idea of celebrating partition, an event that has been so utterly catastrophic for our country, is frankly incomprehensible.”
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood faced fierce criticism from many republicans for attending the NI centenary service.
He responded, saying: “If we want to create a shared island we have to be prepared to share rooms with people who disagree with us.”
• Ben Lowry Oct 23:Centenary church service should have celebrated Northern Ireland
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