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After the SDLP on BCC voted against a civic reception for British troops, the SDLP Mayor in Derry has held one in secret with details only being released after the fact.

  • Mark I will defer to you on the specifics here but my understanding was that the SDLP in Belfast primarily opposed the parade. A mayoral reception would have been a matter for the Mayor although I do not recollect the Lord Mayor of Belfast specifically opposing one.

    It seems to me that Diver was behaving in the way you would expect a first citizen to behave and which recognises the diversity and competing traditions of the Maiden City. I have listened to his comments on the radio and cannot disagree with what he has said in public.

    This is rememberance weekend and again I could be wrong but I am told the Lord Mayor of Belfast will pay his respects to the many Irishmen who fell in Flanders and at the Somme tomorrow in Belfast. I respect him for doing so.

  • William

    Yes Conall…Grumpy Hartley will probably skulk into the Cenotaph around 10 am and leave a laurel wreath, something that is meant as a victory garland, much used in motor racing’s F1 and motorcyle races like the North-West 200. I also wonder why he stops at WW1 and the Battle of the Somme….why not WW2 and other conflicts since?

    Not a being will see him, other than the other skulking Shinners with him.

  • Michael Shilliday

    Well done Gerry Diver. I meant to blog this myself, but forgot.

  • Mark McGregor


    Never defer to me on anything. If I get it wrong call me.

    Maybe, it’d help if you clarified the difference between a civic reception (which the SDLP opposed in Belfast) and a Mayoral recepetion which the SDLP Mayor held and deliberately kept from public attention until after the fact following consultation with the MoD.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Presumably he didn’t fancy 50 f***wits from Eirigi (ie. all of them) turning up outside his front door. Perfectly understandable, and sensible.
    We’ll leave it to the few non-lunatics left on this board to decide who has furthered unity here and who would prefer to sow division.

  • Brian Walker

    As a Derryman and the son of a war time territorial in the 9th Londonderry regiment Royal Artillery who served in North Africa and Italy, I warmly congratulate the mayor. My father was one of several hundred from the city and area who qualified as a Desert Rat(7th Armoured Division). In his last months in 1990 he was intrigued to learn that the modern Rats had been deployed to expel the Iraqis from Kuwait. I especially recall his service and that of many other Derrymen at this time.

  • Mark McGregor


    Of course your father’s story has nothing to do with a reception for the RIR but as you connect the two, do you think receptions of this nature being held in secrecy and only being mentioned after the fact demonstrate any great or true respect?

    Seems like a hidden shame from the SDLP to me.

  • Chris Donnelly

    If I’m not mistaken, the SDLP also supported a military parade in Ballymena- meaning they’ve adopted the full spectrum of opinions depending on which council you are in across the 6 counties.

    Objecting to the form of remembrance- i.e. laurel wreath- smacks of MOPEry desperation at its most pathetic.

    It is quite obvious why republicans won’t participate in remembering British soldiers who died in ‘other conflicts’ given that such conflicts would include Ireland and other colonial conflicts.

    Conall/ William
    I gather from media reports that Tom Hartley will be in Kilkenny tomorrow, part of a tour of engagements he has had this week in the south of Ireland.

    That shouldn’t detract from his previous record of acknowledging the Irish casualties of the World Wars, which included laying a similar wreath in July on the anniversary of the Somme.

    I look forward to the day when Unionist political leaders reciprocate by remembering the Irish men and women- catholic and protestant- who died side by side during the 1798 Rebellion….somehow I think I’ll be waiting for quite some time.

    Still, it is the natural- and logical- next step in a process of remembering shared history, but it won’t be easy: only weeks ago, unionist councillors in Ards rejected an SDLP proposal to preserve the homestead of united Irish woman, Betsy Gray, arguing that she was a myth.

  • Mark McGregor


    Remember SF in Ballymena did abstain on a vote on this so they’re only one step behind.

  • slug

    Chris surely the SDLP deserve credit for being more broad minded on this issue?

  • Chris,

    You must have missed the contributions of Ards and other councils to the 1798 bicenentary commemorations. But of course her house should have been preserved, and it is petty not to do so. Then again, her grave was smashed by unionists to deny the possibility of commemorations being held there in 1898, so there is form!

  • Chris Donnelly

    Didn’t know that re Ballymena but you’re right to point to the inconsistency in Sinn Fein’s approach as well.

    Personally I believe Sinn Fein’s initiative acknowledging the Irish casualties of the First World War is quite broad-minded- afaik republicans lay wreaths at the Belfast cenotaph on both the Somme anniversary and on Remembrance Sunday (though I stand to be corrected.)

    With regard to the SDLP, if the party were to hold similar civic receptions for republican combatants in the conflict here, then they would have grounds for claiming to be all-inclusive.

    As I’ve suggested above, unionist complaints on this matter would have more credibility if they themselves participated in republican commemorations remembering those protestants and catholics who fought side by side in 1798.

  • Shifting ground there Chris? First it was taking part in commemorations of those who died in 1798, and now specifically republican ones. As you point out Alex Maskey et al hold their own ceremonies for imperialism’s foot soldiers; why then should unionist join non-unionist commemorations of 98? It seems to me you’re not comparing like with like.

  • Driftwood

    The Church of Ireland in Downpatrick has no beef with republican commemorations at the grave of Thomas Russell in their grounds. Most people have an inbuilt sense of decency, and remembering the dead falls within that remit. But SF murdered many people at the remembrance day ceremony in Enniskillen not so long ago, see recent blog, so their recent charades are all too see through. Fair play to Mayor Given for showing the decency of the SDLP above SF sectarian bigotry.

  • Brian Walker

    Gosh driftwood, Thomas Russell! That take us back.. and him a press button bee too.
    Mark, Was the Derry reception ” in secret” or just, well, held quietly without fanfare and tedious rows? Can you really have a bunch of soldiers to a reception “in secret?” I welcome any gesture the SDLP is able to make in this direction, given the difficulties and the absence of votes in it.

  • Harry Flashman

    Gerry Diver, whom I know personally, is a very decent and hardworking young man, he is a credit to his town and to his party, if there were more like him Northern Ireland would be a much better place.

    Brian, fascinating, I had no idea your old man was part of the famous “Derrys”, so when are you going to write your autobiography? Almost every other journo that ever reported for ten minutes in Northern Ireland has had their breathless accounts published, somehow I suspect your story might make for rather more interesting reading.

  • Chris Donnelly

    No ground shifting, it was what I meant the first time. Republicans recognise/ acknowledge the cenotaph as an official site for remembrance of Somme/ WW1 victims; unionism has yet to reciprocate with regard to acknowledging- never mind participating- in commemorations of fellow Irish men/women from the republican tradition.

  • slug


    1. Do you think Sinn Féin should participate in official rememberance commemorations for Some/WW1 etc (as opposed to their own, separate, events)?

    2. Do you approve, or disapprove, of the SDLP’s mayor’s reception?

  • Well as I say Chris, several councils including Ards did sponsor very significant commemorations of 98, so I’m not sure that statement is entirely accurate.

    But is a more appropriate comparison not those who died fighting wars elsewhere, but those who died in Ireland? We saw on Sunday and in Jim Gibney’s columns on the subject the rejection of any idea that PSF and its supporters owe any recognition to the role of the British Army in Ireland. I’d be surprised to see Alex Maskey lay a wreath to dead Black and Tans for example, which seems to me a more appropriate comparison, though he may surprise me yet.

  • Reader

    Chris Donnelly: I look forward to the day when Unionist political leaders reciprocate by remembering the Irish men and women- catholic and protestant- who died side by side during the 1798 Rebellion….somehow I think I’ll be waiting for quite some time.
    Side by side? What about ‘face to face’? There’s the problem – doesn’t Republicanism always expect that only one side should be commemorated? When you can commemorate the fallen on both sides, without insulting either, then try inviting the unionists.

  • Chris Donnelly

    On the first point, I don’t believe republicans should participate in official British military commemorations. I am a strong supporter of republicans acknowledging those who died in the World Wars from Ireland, but let’s not confuse that with seeking to confer any legitimacy on the British military’s role in Ireland.

    I don’t believe the comparison holds that ‘shared remembrance’ must be on the premise of conflicts abroad- the issue, surely, is that significant members of both communities (catholic/ protestant in ’98 and nationalist/ unionist in ‘1914-18) fought side by side.

    On the second issue, I’m coming to this one from the position that complete parity of esteem would allow for civic receptions to be held for both Irish republican and British/ unionist political/ military events.

    I’ve already stated on a thread here that my preferred course of action for republicans over the RIR parade would have been to use the issue to test unionist commitment to true parity of esteem through announcing plans for republican military comemmorations to shift to the ‘shared space’ of the city centre, complete with civic reception.

  • Reader

    Chris Donnelly: unionist commitment to true parity of esteem through announcing plans for republican military comemmorations to shift to the ‘shared space’ of the city centre, complete with civic reception.
    Are you sure you can even count on uniform nationalist support for republican ‘military’ commemorations? As a unionist I would never support loyalist ‘military’ commemorations.

  • J Kelly

    could you expalin how the sdlp who say they oppose the illegal wars and invasions in Iraq and Afghanistan can welcome the invaders back to Ireland, thats not even taking into account their history in Ireland

  • runciter

    the SDLP also supported a military parade in Ballymena


  • latcheeco

    J Kelly,
    In fairness I don’t the the Stoops were doing so much what you allege but taking the best option that avoided public exacerbating, coat-trailing, political hijacking, victimology and persecution complexes while accepting that whether we like it or not ( or think the RIR thing was buck stupid given how much half the population hates the British army)a lot of Irish people see nothing wrong with these events. There is an elephant in the room and that is that in a future United Ireland unionists are still going to be British-Irish and must be afforded every space to do so as long as this doesn’t deliberately try to insult or demean those who are Irish-Irish. Feelings and rights of minorities to express themselves and their identity cultural history must be a sacred pillar of any new Irish Republic. Meantime these councils must also be as open to the other side marking its Irishness. BCC has been at best niggardly in its approach to this so far.

  • William, Londonderry

    Congratulations to Gerry Diver on holding a Mayor’s reception for Territorial Army soldiers and one injured member of the Royal Irish Regiment from Londonderry, who had recently returned from Afghanistan.

    Congratulations also to SDLP Councillors Brenda Stevenson and Thomas Conway, who together with Mayor Diver joined UUP and DUP Aldermen in paying their respects at the War Memorial in Londonderry yesterday.

    It was regrettable that other SDLP and Sinn Fein Councillors didn’t join them. However, Councillors Helen Quigley and Mark H. Durkan sent a message of apology for their absence due to prior committments, to the Dean of ‘Derry, Very Rev. Dean William Morton.

    Shame on the bigoted Sinn Feiner / Republican vermin who pollute the political process in Northern Ireland and the Republic and likewise pollute the internet, including this blog.

  • latcheeco

    Did you really just use bigoted and vermin in the same sentenc talking about other people?

  • Chris Donnelly


    Apparently William doesn’t do irony…..