DUP MLA Robin Newton described Conor Murphy’s decision as “backward, petty and horrible,” and said there is no future in such “narrow and twisted” politics.
“Planting a rose within the grounds of Stormont to mark Northern Ireland’s centenary should not be controversial.
“Sinn Fein clearly don’t want any British symbols about the place and now don’t even want homegrown flowers which might have British connotations in the Stormont lawn.”
The NI Centenary rose has been specially bred by Dickson Roses of Newtownards, at the request of the NIO, to mark 100 years since the creation of Northern Ireland,
Plans are already in place for them to be planted at Hillsborough Castle, Buckingham Palace and Downing Street.
In an Assembly written question, Mr Newton asked the Sinn Fein finance minister if he would “ give consideration to creating a display of these flowers within the Stormont Estate”.
In response, Mr Murphy said there were “sensitive historic and political issues involved,” and advised Mr Newton to work with the other parties “to agree a proposal on this issue which is both in line with the Department policy and that is representative of our wider community”.
Mr Murphy said he would then give the DUP MLA’s proposal “full and fair consideration”.
In March this year, consensus was sought for a small stone centenary sculpture – at no cost to the public purse – to placed in the grounds of Stormont, however, despite broad support, the project was vetoed by Sinn Fein on the grounds that it reflected “only one political perspective”.
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