Sinn Fein mayors not taking part in Remembrance Sunday events
Sinn Fein mayors in Northern Ireland will not take part in Remembrance Sunday events to avoid standing alongside uniformed members of the UK armed forces.
A party spokesman told the Press Association that its representatives will not take part in events which “celebrate or attempt to legitimise British imperialism”.
The party’s mayors will also not be laying wreaths in individual one-off ceremonies before the events begin.
In previous years, Sinn Fein mayors in Belfast, including Mairtin O Muilleoir, took part in Armistice Day events but not Remembrance Sunday events.
But this year, Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday fall on the same day.
This year marks 100 years since the armistice which ended the First World War at 11am on November 11 1918.
The centenary is being marked at scores of events across the UK.
There are currently three Sinn Fein mayors in Northern Ireland – Belfast Lord Mayor Deirdre Hargey, chairman of Mid Ulster Council Sean McPeake and Brenda Chivers who is Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens council.
In Belfast, deputy Lord Mayor Emmet McDonough-Brown of the Alliance Party confirmed he would deputise for Ms Hargey at the event at Belfast City Hall on Sunday.
“In this society, reconciliation is more of a journey than a destination,” he told the Press Association.
“We all have something to learn from each other, and I believe people expect their politicians to show leadership and grace, not least at this time of year which is so important to so many people.
“This Sunday, I will be remembering those in my family who fought the evils of their generation and all of those who have suffered in war.”
Earlier this week, High Sheriff Carol Howard (Alliance) represented Belfast City Council during the planting of crosses at City Hall for the Fields of Remembrance event.
Meanwhile Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill will represent the party at the Remembrance Day Service at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin on Sunday.
A Sinn Fein spokesman said Ms Hargey had taken part in a number of events around the First World War this year.
He also revealed that the party had been in discussions with the Royal British Legion (RBL) in Belfast over “how we can respectfully remember” those who lost their lives in the First World War.
In Mid Ulster, the party said Mr McPeake organised a remembrance event in December to bring people together.
“Sinn Fein are in ongoing discussions in Belfast with the British Legion about how we respectfully remember those who lost their lives in the enormous human tragedy of the 1914 – 1918 War,” the Sinn Fein spokesman said.
“Sinn Fein representatives such as Belfast Mayor Deirdre Hargey have already engaged in a number of events this year including laying a wreath on the Somme anniversary, chairing a special Somme Council Meeting and speaking at a City Hall event to remember all of those who died in the First World War.
“Councillor Sean McPeake as mayor in Mid Ulster has organised a remembrance event in December that brings together people for a ‘Day of Reflection’.
“Sinn Fein will not participate in British military commemorations or events which celebrate or attempt to legitimise British imperialism.”