Northern Ireland news

SDLP says Sinn Féin proposal for memorial to John Hume and Martin McGuinness is premature

The SDLP believes a Sinn Féin proposal to commemorate John Hume and Martin McGuinness is premature. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Seamus McKinney

THE SDLP in Derry is to vote against a Sinn Féin proposal to explore ways of commemorating both John Hume and Martin McGuinness saying the move was "premature".

Sinn Féin said last week it intended putting forward the proposal at this Thursday’s meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council.

Sandra Duffy proposed that the authority explore how the city could “recognise and acknowledge” the contributions made by both men. Mr Hume, a former SDLP leader died last month while Mr McGuinness, who was a former deputy first minister, died in 2017.

Ms Duffy, Sinn Féin group leader, proposed that the council should work with other departments in investigating ways to commemorate the two men.

“The scale of their contribution can never be overestimated and again that is clear to see from the reverence that both men are held in across this city.”

However SDLP leader on the council Martin Reilly said the party believed the Sinn Féin proposal was “premature” and, as a result, it would be voting against the move.

Mr Reilly said: “John Hume was the architect of peace on this island. His genius ended the Anglo-Irish conflict and gave a new generation the opportunity to live and pursue their ambitions free from the threat of violence. His legacy is immense and deserves a proper memorial to give the people of Derry and Ireland the chance to remember him.

“Six weeks after John’s death, however, is premature for a prescriptive approach to a memorial. And it’s fair to ask if any consultation has taken place with the Hume family before this motion was tabled.”

The councillor said the SDLP was committed to remembering “Ireland’s greatest peacemaker” in an appropriate way that matched the scale of his legacy.

“But we will be voting against a motion which has not demonstrated the sensitivity that these discussion require,” he said.

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