The Province’s two biggest parties yesterday attacked one another over the plans to commemorate 100 years since the Easter Rising.
Sinn Fein hailed plans for a programme of events to mark next year’s anniversary, saying that the independence proclamation made in Dublin at the time is “as relevant today as it was then almost 100 years ago.”
The DUP hit out at the comments, saying that the insurrection “is of no relevance to the people of Northern Ireland”.
Sinn Fein had already outlined a programme of events for Dublin and yesterday it gave details of its intentions in Belfast, including the unveiling of a new statue of one of the rising’s leaders James Connolly on the Falls Road, and a centenary-themed Easter Sunday march.
Martin McGuinness, speaking at the launch event in the north of the city, noted the colours of the Irish tricolour and said: “The orange part of the flag is as important as the green and I think we are very proud to be part of that generation of Irish republicans that is prepared to appreciate that, is prepared to accept that as we face into difficult challenges.”
But reacting to the planned celebrations, DUP MP David Simpson said: “In common with most other issues, their focus is looking south of the border, here on something which is of no relevance to the people of Northern Ireland.”
He added that there was little about cross-community events in the programme, and said the calendar of events “will be entirely used as an election campaign platform by Sinn Fein.”
Sinn Fein hit back, saying Mr Simpson was “clearly struggling with the concept espoused by his own party leader of treating other cultures and traditions with respect and tolerance”.