Key moments in Sinn Fein’s campaign against ‘wee statelet’ Northern Ireland

As far back as 2018 Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said that her party would not take part in events where unionists celebrated the creation of their “wee statelet”.

By Mark Rainey
Friday, 22nd October 2021, 10:05 pm
Updated Saturday, 23rd October 2021, 4:37 pm
Sinn Fein objected to the display of a Northern Ireland Centenary Rose
Sinn Fein objected to the display of a Northern Ireland Centenary Rose

However, during the last 12 months it has become clear that Sinn Fein is preventing, where it has sufficient political power, NI centenary commemorations from taking place.

At the height of the last Irish presidential election campaign in 2018, Ms McDonald said: “We don’t celebrate the establishment of the northern state or partition.

“Obviously, for unionists, that was the moment where they secured their ‘wee statelet’ – and for Irish nationalism it is the moment when people woke up one morning and said ‘what happened there?’.”

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The latest examples of the party obstructing the centenary commemorations include a Sinn Fein veto on having Parliament Buildings illuminated, and then Sinn Fein councillors on Belfast City Council blocking a request to light up the city hall.

In recent months a number of other initiatives have been vetoed by Sinn Fein, including a proposal to have a bed of the NI Centenary roses on display at Stormont, and a proposal to have a small commemorative stone monument erected at Parliament Buildings.

In May, Sinn Fein Finance Minister Conor Murphy said there were “sensitive historic and political issues involved,” in approving the display of roses – advising DUP MLA Robin Newtown to seek all-party approval “both in line with the department policy and that is representative of our wider community”.

Two months previously, consensus was sought for the NI Centenary sculpture – at no cost to the public purse. However, despite broad support, the project was vetoed by Sinn Fein on the grounds that it reflected “only one political perspective”.

Earlier this month Sinn Fein, the largest bloc on Mid Ulster Council, blocked three landmark buildings being illuminated blue and green, along with a number of others across the UK, to mark the NI centenary.

SF councillor Niamh Doris said she opposed the “celebration of something that deserves no celebration, which is the partition of this island”.

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