Sean Bateson Sinn Fein Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council lays a laurel wreath at Coleraine War Memorial with Chief Executive of CCGBC David Jackson and Caoimhe Archibald.
THE borough's Sinn Féin Mayor has laid a wreath in remembrance of those killed in the Battle of the Somme in Coleraine.
Councillor Sean Bateson said he wished to demonstrate his party's commitment to building bridges into the unionist and loyalist communities
“When I became Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Council, I said I would be a Mayor who will represent all of the people - regardless of political allegiance, gender, religious belief or none, ethnic background or sexual orientation.
“As republicans we are committed to engaging with unionists and loyalists and we are prepared to meet them on common ground.
“This is what making peace is all about. I am keen to show the continued commitment that republicans in this area have to building bridges into the unionist and loyalist community.
“I believe we need to have an open and rational debate about how civic institutions commemorate these events in our shared past in an inclusive fashion,” he added.
However Causeway DEA Councillor John McAuley, commenting on behalf of the DUP council group has blasted what he describes as the “begrudging” approach to remembrance, by Sinn Fein.
Describing Mayor Bateson's wreath laying as “an unofficial commemoration” Cllr McAuley said: ‘‘The immense sacrifice of Ulster and Irish volunteers who fought and died in the Battle of the Somme to defend the freedom and liberties that we collectively enjoy should be something that unites our communities rather than divides them.
“Instead Sinn Fein’s actions demonstrate an unjustly qualified approach to World War One commemorations. Their calculated decision to take part in an act of remembrance outside of official mainstream events is not justified nor dignified.
“It sends the wrong message to current and future generations and highlights that republicans have still far to travel to evidence their commitment to a shared society.
“It is high time Sinn Fein ended this begrudging approach to remembrance and practiced the respect that they are all too keen to demand of others!”