Belfast Lord Mayor to avoid official Somme commemoration

Six years after the first Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast, Alex Maskey, refused to attend the official ceremony commemorating those killed at the Battle of the Somme and, instead, laid a wreath separately at 9am on the same morning – at the time Mick suggested his attendance “may be too soon for both his own and Unionist supporters in the City” – this year’s new Sinn Féin Lord Mayor of Belfast, Tom Hartley, has announced he will not be attending the official ceremony and will instead lay a wreath seperately at 9am on the same morning, before chairing a Special Council meeting scheduled to begin at the same time as the official ceremony. Tom Hartley claims that this “consolidates and builds upon the initiatives taken by Alex Maskey during his term as Mayor and by Joe O’Donnell as Deputy Mayor to reach out to the unionist and protestant people of Belfast.” In 2004 a Sinn Féin Ard Fheis passed a resolution barring Sinn Fein representatives from attending “British military commemorations”.