26 May 2022

Ulster Unionist Party's McCready gives credit to Sinn Féin for respecting right to mark Queen's jubilee


Derry City & Strabane District Council passed a motion to help support and assist local groups wishing to mark Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee

Sinn Féin Councillors were given credit by UUP Councillor, Ryan McCready, for showing tolerance and respect during last night's debate on a motion to mark Queen Elizabeth II's platinum jubilee in June.

A motion put forward by Ald Hilary McClintock (DUP) asking Council to help those wishing to mark the jubilee with funding and other mechanisms was passed.

Those voting for the motion totaled 18, four voted against but the 12 abstentions – largely from Sinn Féin – ensured that it would be passed by Council.

Cllr Paul Fleming (Sinn Féin) explained his party's decision to abstain by saying: “As a party, we recognise that many members of this community hold the British Royal family in high esteem and wish to celebrate the jubilee.

“However, there are many others who feel very differently – not least to the British Royal family's longstanding links to the British military.

“As a Council, we do have a duty to ensure that one's rights are respected. As we have unfortunately seen in the past, there is a thin line between genuine celebration and vitriol. We believe we need to ensure that doesn't happen.

“Sinn Féin will abstain on this motion and, hopefully, when it comes to the time, there will be a genuine celebration from people within our district who subscribe to the British Royal family.”

In response, Ald McCready (UUP) replied: “Give credit where it's due – and I won't hold back on this occasion – to Sinn Féin. It would be very easy for them to oppose this on lots and lots of grounds. In particular, given how close it is to the Bloody Sunday event of this weekend.

“For them not to support it, which I wouldn't expect them to do so, but to abstain and not deny someone else access to something which they wouldn't subscribe to, I note that.

“Sometimes tolerance is about acknowledging that people do things slightly differently and maybe allowing them to have access to that.

“I'm a lot more comfortable as we are as a Council having these type of talks and long may it continue.”

Earlier, Ald McClintock (DUP) when presenting her motion said: “The Platinum Jubilee of Her Majesty the Queen, is for a sizeable amount of people in this district, a momentous occasion. One that we will definitely never again see in our lifetime.

“It's a historic occasion and never known before for a monarch in this country to be on the throne for such a period of time. Worldwide, the only time a monarch has been longer on the throne was Louis XIV of France who reigned for 72 years.

“Events (in the United Kingdom) will be taking place over the extended bank holiday weekend (June 2022). I am not in any way suggesting that Council organises events to mark the occasion, but rather they accommodate – where possible and appropriate – any kind requests for assistants from local organisers.

“I'd also request that Council seeks to identify if there are any possible pots of funding and mechanisms that local community groups might be able to apply for and utilise for their own local celebrations.

“We appreciate that not all members of this Council will wish to celebrate. But in the interests of good community relations and celebrating the cultural diversity of our residents, that every effort be made to enable those who wish to celebrate to do so.”

However, there was opposition within Council – most notably from Cllr Gary Donnelly (Independent).

He said: “Many more people in this city will see this as divisive and toxic. No self-respecting socialist or republican can have any truck with this. Council should not in any way have anything to do with this.

“This week, it is the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday and the murder of unarmed civil rights marchers. The killers and murderers were decorated by this same person (the Queen). In later years, this person would give others (involved) gongs like MBEs. It's an absolute disgrace.”

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