“This isn’t an issue about the mayor, the mayor was using his democratic right to use that casting vote…”

So says the Derry and Strabane District Sinn Féin Councillor Eric McGinley, a party colleague of the mayor in question, Sinn Féin Councillor, Maolíosa McHugh.  The Sinn Féin mayor had previously declined to meet Prince Charles when he visited County Londonderry last year to meet victims of flooding.  In his place, representing the office of the mayor, SDLP councillor John Boyle, the deputy mayor of Derry and Strabane, accompanied Prince Charles during the visit.

The reason for the Sinn Féin statement defending the Sinn Féin mayor of Derry and Strabane District Council this time is that he used his casting vote to reject an invitation to the Council to send a representative to a garden party at Buckingham Palace to celebrate those from the district being named on the Queen’s New Year’s Honour’s List.  According to the BBC report

However, Sinn Féin councillor Eric McGinley defended Mr McHugh.

“This isn’t an issue about the mayor, the mayor was using his democratic right to use that casting vote,” he told the BBC.

“Just to explain, there was an invitation extended to council from the Department of Communities to attend a garden party in Buckingham Palace.

“We were more than willing to accommodate anyone going to Buckingham Palace but the key thing was that it shouldn’t be at a cost to the ratepayers.

Except that, according to the Belfast Telegraph report, the motion Councillor McGinley actually proposed at the “confidential” meeting went further in that it declared that anyone who attended the garden party “would not be officially representing the Council”.  How Sinn Féin expected that to work in practice isn’t entirely clear, since the invitation was for the Council to attend…  From the Belfast Telegraph report

Derry City and Strabane councillors last night voted to snub an invitation to a Buckingham Palace Garden Party this summer, sparking unionist uproar.

The council received an invitation from the Palace to attend an event to celebrate those from the district being named on the Queen’s New Year’s Honour’s List.

But a confidential council meeting at Derry’s Guildhall ended in uproar when a motion calling for the Sinn Fein mayor, the SDLP deputy mayor or a chairperson from one of the committees to accept the invite was voted down – resulting in the invitation being ignored.

A motion was initially brought forward by Sinn Fein’s Eric McGinley proposing that if anyone wanted to attend they could do so and pay for it themselves, but that they would not be officially representing the council.

The proposal was amended by SDLP councillor Martin Reilly to accept the invite and, as in the past, if the mayor or deputy mayor couldn’t attend, a chairperson from one of the committees could do so on behalf of the council.

When the amendment was voted on, 15 members voted for and 15 against – leaving Mayor Maoliosa McHugh with the casting vote. He voted against it, resulting in catcalls of “shame” and “where’s your respect?” from unionists.


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  • bJbEbSbSb

    Too gobby, i can hardly argue with that 🙂

  • Bill

    But if they rebel, you may have no option but to treat them like rebels…

  • bJbEbSbSb

    I am afraid many of us are Bill
    It has simply evolved from violence to a political battle
    Stormont has been used as an arena to continue it, I really think we would be better off without it

  • Georgie Best

    There was no need for this type of divisive invitation in the first place.
    Events councils are invited to should be even handed and not favouring one political faction.

  • bJbEbSbSb

    If who rebels and against what?

  • Thomas Girvan

    Why not use the money for something really beneficial to the taxpayer.
    Surely they could squeeze another Sinn Sein junketeer into the St Patrick’s day Jolly at the White House.
    Maybe this year they will let Gerry in!

  • Marcus Orr

    I believe in live and let live completely and I believe that LGBT people are human beings who deserve the same treatment and the same rights as all people.

    I just don’t believe in creating special rights over and above that. Radical state re-definition of tradition marriage being a case in point.

    But ok. I’m getting off topic.

  • Jeff

    It’s networking be this business or social

  • Jeff

    Nope these action prove the contrary

  • Marcus Orr

    It’s the symbol for Ireland.

    (I guess it should have been changed into one fifth of harp on the coat of arms).

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Where Unionist choices are inceptively responsible, historically or in the present, they are responsible. Where Republicans are responsible they are responsible. But unless the patterns of influence and example are honesty recognised any attempt to unpick the faults across our community is going to fail through treating symptoms rather than causes.,

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Marcus, I’ve always been curious, and wanted to know more than the canonic version of things, which did me no harm in my teens with exams. I was going Down to Dublin to visit extended family from Childhood and on a family shichvslways had political interests found myself in discussions about politics there also, so I’ve inbibed it almost all my life. I dupppse the awareness in family that partition was seen even by the active Unionist members as not a fixity butvas a political construct meant that I had a sense that the politics of Belfast, Westminster and the Dail all inevitably inter-related. In a situation where for twenty years we have been living with the future potential of reunification as part of a treaty on which our local politics are based I’d feel that an awareness of the politics of the south are even more of a necessity for all of us. Certainly any familiarity with the debates in the Dail would dispel the still current idea amongst even intelligent Unionists that the politics of the north find any reflection in attitudes there. But as you say, it has been regarded by Unionism as a foreign country and accordingly not addressed.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And the Parliament which rebelled against Charles I could rhetorically speak of “the Norman yoke.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No Cory, all the more reason for standards to be maintained and examples set. There are many moderate Unionists who will respond to honest intent of reconciliation, but who will join in circling the wagons out of self preservation if the message given is “a la outrance.”

    But at the end of the day it comes down to what one truly believes. If the reconciliation of our political differences within one community is what determines ones actions then the behaviour of others will certainly be a problem but will not finally determine how one acts. If reconciliation is a simply a political tactic then it will be contingent on results.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oggins, any experience of the outside world shows just how similar we are to one another in endless less ways, even some cosmopolitan Anglo-Irish local like myself! When I lived in London hearing a NI accent always lifted my heart. The real difference is simply politics, and only politics, and in the end politics are a matter of choice, no matter how ingrained they appear to be.

  • cJcEcScSc

    A UI will have to maintain good relations with Britiain Jeff, not only for the two way trade but our peoples are very integrated which is the way it should be
    I am not tryting to convince you, it is simply the reality
    The cat can kiss its own arse

  • Jeff

    In the event (unlikely in the short to medium term) that there is a UI it will have firstly and foremost have to have good relations with those living on the island of Ireland who are and will be British. For clarity I do not consider myself a unionist I am more pro union events and decisions like this in Derry only go to prove that republicanism has a long way to go before it has the breadth of maturity to respect the views of the British community, That’s the hard part having good relations with the Great Britain really isn’t a stretch.

  • cJcEcScSc


    That would explain why reconciliation and reaching out has been a one way effort to date, and an abject refusal to tolerate an Irish language act or discuss Irish unity in a meaningful way

    After 10 years of effort it is time to move on and the train is already moving. It will soon be time for the people to have their say

  • Aodh Morrison

    Republicans “responsible”? Wow you’ve changed your tune!

  • Mike the First

    How’s that work, exactly?

    Are Buckingham Palace supposed to have asked the Council if they fancied popping along to Áras an Uáchtarain as well?

  • Mike the First

    Yet again, gestures by Unionists are simply written out of history.

    Right back to Ken Maginnis’s attendance at the Irish presidential inauguration (1993?).

    Why is this? Is it simply to have a little whinge that “ussuns reached out and themmuns didn’t”? Is it to feed an onoing narrative that themmuns are horrible bastards altogether?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    No Aodh, I’m consistent and it is you who have failed to recognise the Gestalt or overriding pattern in my arguement.

    “The North Began……” and others followed. I’ve always sided with John Redmond (and even Col. William Saunderson) and the constitutionalists and in my thinking I have consistently argued against any recourse to violence from whatever camp.

    In 1892 at the Ulster Unionist Convention (where, incidentally, an ancestor of mine was an aide to the organisers), “ Ulster will Fight” meant fight on the floor of the Commons or at the hustings. If Home Rule finally became law the supporters of the Union would engage in Civil Disobedience. This changed with the decisive recourse to force of 1912, ironically something that was seen as a safe option because Nationalism had marginalised violence so entirely by that date and “ Ireland had been won for Constitutionalism.” No Unionist expected to really fight in 1912, but their example andcthe ttreat it posed to a sane Constitutional settlement inspired others and revitalised Republican separatism from the doldrums. You appear to have been so utterly tied up with the Idea that Unionism was innocent of any role in the descent into violence, that only Republocanism was blameworthy, that you could not see the full implications of my (and Birrell’s) wider analysis.

  • Mike the First

    When “Unionism” does “manage it”, and unionist politicians certainly have done some things (I’d urge them to do much more), it just gets written out of history by people like you.

  • Jeff

    Where has reaching out and reconcilliation happened from republicanism? What happened to Sinn Fein/adams reaching out to unionism? From what I can see absolutely nothing, zilch and back to the topic in question here was a perfect example to do just that and republicanism has failed yet again. Not a great week for Sinn Fein, I can see the respect agenda being quietly dropped by them as their retoric does not live up to their deeds.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    A harp neck or a small pile of wire strings perhaps?

  • cJcEcScSc

    Exactly Jeff
    I am satisfied with how Sinn Fein have behaved overall when the assembly was operating, I am happy that they made an effort to build better relations.
    I believe it would have worked had the same effort been made in return, it wasnt and after 10 years, sin e

    The problem is unionism will only ever see things through its own orange goggles, the fact you see absolutely nothing, zilch we have to ask ourselves, why bother?

    It is time to drop the labels, drop reaching out, treat everyone with the same respect whether they be unionist, nationalist, gay, straight, irish , british or european, whatever.

    No more special treatment for any section of society

    If unionists still see themselves as the top cats then let them I say, but we dont need to pander to it

    It may take a generation or two but you will catch yourselves on eventually

  • Aodh Morrison

    Phew! You’re back on track Good lad, for a moment I thought you’d gone all ecumenical.

    Your pernicious fixation on unionism as the sole architect of the violence and constitutional contortions of the 20th Century sits very comfortably with your Irish nationalist “encoding” (and no I don’t buy the ‘my best friend/close family member’s a unionist’ riff you seek to employ as some sort of guarantor of your impartiality – you’re a dyed in the wool nationalist). A little bit of honesty might serve your nationalist arguments better. These illusions to unionist connections that pepper your posts only serve to make you appear ridiculous.

    You’re not shy in lashing out at others to promote your myopic views. Was it a couple of days ago when you called a ‘real’ (as opposed to an anonymous internet wannabe) historian “British friendly” in a personalised attack because he does not follow your slavish Nationalism Good/Unionism Bad default?

    Of course ad hominem attacks is how you do business ( I’m more than happy in your case to return the serve). Anyone who disagrees with you is unread, or unable to understand the subtleties of the situation (which are only revealed to your superior “Anglo Irish” intellect) or simply “untterly tied up” with a one-dimensional analysis ( an hilarious accusation given who it’s coming from!).

  • Jeff

    I certainly don’t have orange goggles, I have no interest in orange order.

    If your asking yourself “why bother” then I can assure you, Sinn Fein/republicanism hasn’t, perhaps you personally have? If so I’d applaud it. You are getting off the point of this thread again tho. I shall repeat, there was an opportunity to take a very visible higher ground in relation to something clearly important to the British people in the Derry area and Sinn Fein could not bring themselves to do it. I’ll be clear to you I loath with a passion the DUP they clearly are a problem and I hold them with the same contempt I do Sinn Fein. Both parties are the problem not the solution.

  • Neil

    Really? 1993?! LOL. That is small beer, the best part of 25 years ago. Things have moved on slightly since then. Unionism’s representatives have pulled the plug on MLK, reneged on an ILA and a bill of rights, more recently the Liofa decision shows that even where minor progress is made for Nationalism, Unionism will do their best to reverse it. We have made compromises, we have engaged in outreach; would it kill Unionists to say actually, throw them a bone? Because the alternative is not great for anyone, but particularly bad for Unionism.

    I don’t care about the narrative, the reality is the issue. If the reality of their behaviour is painting a picture of your reps being horrible whatevers, maybe the behavior is the problem? Anyway, plenty of Irish republicans hope you keep it up exactly as you have done until now, it’s not exactly killing off the probability of a UI, which seems to be growing more likely by the day.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Aodh, as I remember we had an exchange over the 1912/1916 business a while back where you attempted to argue from sources and conspicuously failed. While you can reject the inceptive role of Unionism in our current problems you cannot do so offering any serious evidence beyond your personal opinion backed by the some generalisations about the Republican violence of other decades,

  • cJcEcScSc

    Exactly my point Jeff
    As far as you are concerned no effort has been made these past 10 years.

    I cant tell Sinn Fein what to do, but personally I dont want to hear any more cr*p about unionist outreach
    It is a bit late 10 years on for unionism to realise that was the crux of the GFA to begin with

    Once again, it is all about what is important to the British people in regards some pompous royal party, while an Irish language act has been opposed for 10 years. Typical top cat attitude and that is the goggles I refer to

    Too little too late, the next move is on you, I am past caring

  • Jeff

    Well cj if you dont give a xxxx and your mindset is beyond resonable debate orher than throwing insults around I will leave you to stew in your thoughts and wish you well

  • William Saunderson

    This presumes that the rest of Ireland consists of ‘nationalists’ in the sense that the Shinners are.

  • john millar

    ” was trying to be reassuring
    We all know in a UI there will be no interest in treating the pro union people the way they have treated us
    But they do need to wake up and smell the coffee”
    What? no state funded separate education- No free access to national health service No operation of a “society with a society” where we take all the benefits whilst working to destroy the state ??

    We demand parity equality etc etc

  • Aodh Morrison

    You have obviously no understanding of what ‘evidence’ means.

    Your ineradicable prejudice against unionism leads you to a superficial analysis of what you characterise as ‘history’, but is in reality is partisan opinion harvested from the past with a jaundiced eye.

    For instance I’ve lost count of the number of times you’ve used the title from Eoin MacNeill’s bigoted, hate-filled rant, “The North Began” as “evidence”. It is no such thing.

    Evidence is weighed, considered and its sources interrogated. MacNeill had an agenda and his own partisan nationalist prejudices. He is not an independent commentator. Someone who could say, “It is not to follow, and it will not follow, that any part of Ireland, majority or minority, is to interfere with the liberty of any other part.” to condemn the anti-Home Rulers, yet at the same time supporting ‘his’ majority to deny the island’s minority their ‘liberty’ is a very suspect witness indeed.

    An historian would reflect on that and not simply grasp at words stoked by partisanship as the only truth of what was happening at any given time. There are of course those who do such grasping but they are not historians. Polemicists, certainly. Propagandists, probably. Historians? Most certainly not.

  • cJcEcScSc

    I have worked all my life and always paid taxes
    We frankly deserve better than a failing NHS and no, there should be no separate education.
    Who is trying to destroy the state?
    You are in fantasy land, Martin McGuinness worked tirelessly to bring in investment.
    You are only seeing what you want to see and not hearing anything other than what you want to hear based on your own prejudices.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Aodh, I’ve comprehendively answered you on the issue of evidence with the material evidence on the 1916 Enquirey. I could list endless quotes from contemporary historians as “The North Began…” is a truism which has become a common understanding for everyone approaching any analysis of the twentieth century in the north,

    One simple example at random. In “ Irish Freedom” ( p.352) Richard English a local historian whose work offers some of the most insightful analysis of local terrorism says in passing:

    “Ironically indeed the UVF mobilisation was welcomed by some Irish Nationslists as showing the approximate paramilitary way forward…..”

    The idea that the 1912 Unionist actions stand at the head of later twentieth century developments is implicit and explicit across all professional modern historiography.

    What I am doing on Slugger is to point out that we are still in a Gestalt pattern or commonality of violence which has a distinct beginning. Habits of thought are still current in our contemporary politics in both political camps which need to be seriously questioned if we are to become one community.

    You have made it clear on other posts that you do not believe we are one community, and on this we will simply have to disagree. But for anyone not wishing to sustain the polarisation of our fractured community the recognition that our across the community recourse to violence has a particular character since 1912 the beginning of any meaningful analysis.

  • john millar

    “I have worked all my life and always paid taxes
    We frankly deserve better than a failing NHS and no, there should be no separate education.
    Who is trying to destroy the state?
    You are in fantasy land, Martin McGuinness worked tirelessly to bring in investment.
    You are only seeing what you want to see and not hearing anything other than what you want to hear based on your own prejudices.”

    Simply want to replicate the Roman Catholic/Republican strategy in NI any UI
    For a start

    1 Refuse to recognise the legitimacy of the state continually agitate for partition.Refuse to recognise state symbols and reject their use in the protestant community.
    2 Insist on state funded separate education which reflects the “protestant ethos” of the schools
    3 Organise separate sports and language cultures to support a particular political/religious policies Expect state funding to support such.

  • cJcEcScSc

    I think that is an oversimplification and dishonest perception, however we would respect your right to do all of those
    I would just hope you would not feel the need to

  • john millar

    “I think that is an oversimplification and dishonest perception, ”
    In what way is it

    1 Oversimplified (or inaccurate)
    2 Dishonest
    It is precisely what the Catholic /Republican model is

  • cJcEcScSc

    Post partition, the first 50 years of unionist domination was rife with sectarian discrimination, not only in jobs but in general life. The next 20 weren’t much better, I remember them.
    To say it was a cold house for Catholics is an understatement.

    To say Catholics/nationalists simply didn’t want to make the state work. ignores factual history and is a perception, not a truth.

    What percentage are not working hard to earn a living and make our lives better for our families?

    For as long as you hold this predetermined and inaccurate belief you have about us. you will never be able to hear what is actually being said, only what you think is being said after being processed by your distrust filter.

  • El Daddio

    I’d say a UI is more likely in the short term than SF ever being in government down here!!

  • El Daddio

    That would be a great bonus Marcus

  • El Daddio

    2 is already present in the Republic.

    3 sounds very reasonable.

  • Marcus Orr

    For the unionist block to disappear – or Sinn Féin ? 😉

  • Granni Trixie

    I think it’s fair enough – and probably good practice- that all local councils have criteria/ rules guiding decisions of this nature so that we have consistency across the board and so that a check can be kept on associated costs.

    We seem to be going backwards these days – intent on finding new sites for conflict instead of developing values which we all can sign up to.

  • Fir Bolg

    Are you a Royalist?
    How do you feel about Prince Harry and his Apache helicopter gunship antics?
    Blowing up Afghan bazaars from 2 Miles away.
    It’s a bit Pyscothotic…isn’t it?
    Or are you only worried about the price of Bread?
    Slice pans.
    Faux outrage and Faux morality.

  • Georgie Best

    No need to invite them to either place.

  • M Agnew

    While agreeing such jolly’s are a waste of public money (you can add in any trips down south to that too), the SDLP’s amendment was entirely reasonable in this instance and this is yet another example of SF shooting themselves in the foot.

  • El Daddio

    Oh you 😛

  • Steven Denny

    Obelisk, I think that is a fair position, particularly the edit. However, and I would class myself as CNR ‘lite’…. where does this start and stop?

    I wouldn’t meet Charles for a number of reasons….and if I was from Derry I would be particularly sensitive to the fact that he is Colonel in Chief of the Paras.

    I do have a problem with what is becoming a whipping post re. an outreach strategy/lack of… I personally don’t feel the need to be bending over backwards (and I could be even more crude), to accommodate anything/anybody, when this is never reciprocated, and we need to be honest, it never is.

    The PUL pysche sees Equality as a loss… and there is a reason for this…it is, and this comes from 300+ yes of Ascendency.

    I’m no SF supporter, and I think MMcG was correct last year…it is time to pull this charade down – we need to remember that the GFA was only supported by 51% (this needs checked and I maybe incorrect) of the PUL voter base… So we need to ask the question, was this ever really bought into?

  • mickfealty

    Keep the insults coming. I’m sure that will work. Eventually. 🙁

  • Croiteir

    Give it time – the clock is ticking