Sinn Féin leader in the North Michelle O’Neill said her visit yesterday to the Somme Heritage Centre was part of a process of building understanding between the differing traditions in the North.
The Sinn Féin MLA was accompanied by the party’s National Chairperson Declan Kearney on the visit, which was hosted by the WW1 Commemoration Committee.
After the visit Michelle O’Neill said: “The battles of the First World War and the Battle of the Somme in particular hold a special significance for the Unionist community. We recognise that.
“The commemoration of these events represents a part of the complexity of our shared history.
“I went as a proud Irish republican to recognise the deaths of thousands of Irish men during the course of the catastrophic imperialist First World War, which claimed millions of lives.
"Tens of thousands of Irish men from across the island died in the First World War and it is important to recognise that. They are part of who we are.
“It is important to show leadership and reach out the hand of friendship to unionists.
“We acknowledge the efforts of the Somme Heritage Centre in facilitating the Sinn Féin leadership visit to the Somme in June last year and today’s visit is following up on that invitation.
“Sinn Féin undertook this visit as part of a process of building understanding between the differing traditions in the North.
“We thank the Somme Heritage Centre and the WW1 Commemoration Committee for the invitation and look forward to further engagement.”
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