An Easter Rising commemoration event hosted by a unionist-dominated council has been condemned as a “political stunt”.
Sinn Fein mayor Brenda Chivers hosted the first Easter Lily launch in Causeway Coast and Glens Council on Wednesday evening.
The party said the event was attended by Sinn Fein’s council candidates, MLAs, as well as republican activists and family members of the “patriot dead” from the area.
But Ballymoney Ulster Unionist Councillor Darryl Wilson accused the mayor of abusing her position.
He stated: “It is my understanding that a mayor should not use their position to promote any political message.”
Mr Wilson has made a formal complaint to the council and asked why the event was allowed to take place.
He added: “I am also aware that one of the speakers referred to ‘the memory of our patriot dead across Counties Derry and Antrim’ and how ‘their ultimate sacrifice continues to inspire us daily on our path to Irish unity’.
“That is not referring to the dead of 1916 who were nowhere to be seen in counties Londonderry and Antrim. The people of Coleraine and the surrounding areas are only too well aware of the murderous and criminal deeds of the type of republican ‘patriots’ which Sinn Fein are so fond of eulogising.”
Mr Wilson highlighted the IRA bombing of Coleraine in 1973, in which six pensioners were killed.
He added: “In 1992 the bombers returned and levelled the town centre. They were also responsible for the murders of policemen, UDR men and civilians within the local area.
“We have not forgotten nor will we ever forget the pain and suffering unleashed by the type of criminals that Sinn Fein want to portray as heroes as they seek to rewrite history.”
Sinn Fein declined to respond directly to Mr Wilson’s comments when contacted by the News Letter.
Instead, the party issued a statement in which Mrs Chivers said: “It was an honour to host the first Lily launch in the Causeway Coast and Glens Council.
“Easter is the most important date in the Republican calendar; it is a time when we gather right across Ireland and beyond, to remember and commemorate those men and women, throughout the generations, who gave their lives in pursuit of Irish freedom and independence.”