The DUP group leader on Magherafelt District Council, Councillor Paul McLean has again accused Sinn Fein of ‘double standards’ in their stance over military symbols on gateway features.
The Sinn Fein controlled council recently rejected gateway feature applications from Leckagh and Beechland estates in the town because they contained a depiction of a World War I soldier.
However all the gateway applications - including those from Killowen and Glenburn which were successful - are currently being reconsidered by the council.
Referring to Sinn Fein election material, Councillor McLean claimed they were canvassing in the new Mid-Ulster District Electoral Area with two pages displaying “guns and military propaganda.”
“This clearly clashes and contradicts with their smooth talking within council just a few weeks ago when they refused the gateway features for the Leckagh and Beechland estates,” he continued.
“A British Soldier with his gun pointing downward and his head bowed was even too much for Sinn Fein to stomach; yet so as to ‘play to their voters’ they quite happily promote Irish military symbols on their election literature.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Brian McGuigan said Councillor McLean was once again trying to grab headlines for all the wrong reasons.
“Instead of helping to create positive social change and reconciliation by promoting any worthwhile constituency work that he may be involved in, Paul tries again to create opportunities for outdoing the Jurassic Park politics of his unionist rivals in Jim Allister’s TUV,” he said. “It’s all about the elections on May 22nd!”
He continued: “The publication that Councillor McLean refers to is our local party’s annual Easter newspaper and not a special election publication. We make no apologies for taking the opportunity in its pages to present the inclusive and egalitarian message of the 1916 Easter Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
“Sinn Féin councillors will continue to work hard to ensure that the public realm is a shared space for everyone living in our district irrespective of nationality, class or creed and we will take into consideration a full range of issues as well as local ratepayers and citizens feelings when approving public sculptures and art installations in our towns, villages and hamlets.
“Sinn Féin is proud of our Council Chairperson, Catherine Elattar’s role as an effective first citizen. Catherine is a first class role model for all our young people. The care and attention she has given to the roll out of the Decade of Centenaries programme and the opportunities it presents for opening up uncomfortable conversations needing to be had has won her the admiration of many people working in the world of academia, community relations and the women’s movement.
““Catherine has attended and facilitated a range of events organised by County Derry Centenaries Group including one hosted in St. Colm’s High School in Ballinascreen a couple of years back dealing with the signing of the Ulster Covenant and the formation of the UVF. There is no selective approach to the events that shaped our shared history across Ireland and these islands on the part of Catherine Elattar.
“I’m definitely sure that the First World War and its events related to 1914 will also be given respectful attention by Catherine and those she works closely with her in terms of the centenaries which are important to all the people of Ireland.”