Sinn Féin denies trying to block royal visit but did query reception costs

Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall during last week's visit to the Seamus Heaney HomePlace. Picture By Hugh Russell

Sinn Féin has insisted its councillors did not attempt to block Prince Charles's recent visit to the Seamus Heaney HomePlace.

But The Irish News understands that republicans did propose halting a reception for the royal guests – even though councillors did not know who exactly was scheduled to visit the recently-opened Co Derry centre.

The prince and the Duchess of Cornwall visited the Heaney HomePlace last week during a four-day trip to Ireland.

Ahead of the visit, members of Mid-Ulster District Council were asked in a closed meeting to approve a reception for unspecified VIP guests.

Sinn Féin is believed to have queried the cost and purpose of the reception before introducing a motion that would have halted it. However, the motion failed after councillors from other parties chose not to back it.

Sinn Féin has insisted that it did not attempt to block the royals' visit and that one of its elected representatives was among those who welcomed Charles and Camilla to the Heaney HomePlace. The party insists it only raised questions about the cost and purpose of the reception.

"There was no attempt to block the royal visit by Sinn Féin," a party spokesman said.

"A Sinn Féin representative attended the visit at the Seamus Heaney centre."

The Sinn Fein representative who attended last week's event was councillor Seán McPeake, who is currently president of the Northern Ireland Local Government Association (Nilga). Mr McPeake was not representing Nilga at the function.

The Irish News contacted a number of Mid Ulster councillors but they declined to comment, citing the confidentiality of the meeting.

The council also declined to comment on the matter, which it is understood will be discussed later this month at a full council meeting.

During Prince Charles's visit he met and shook hands with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams during a reception at the British ambassador's residence in Co Dublin.

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