Castlederg-based Mayor snubs Prince and angers local councillors.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Castlederg-based Mayor snubs Prince and angers local councillors. thumbnail Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Maoliosa McHugh.

CASTLEDERG-based Sinn Fein Mayor of Derry City and Strabane District Council, Maoliosa McHugh, has incurred the wrath of two local unionist councillors following his refusal to meet Prince Charles on his visit to Londonderry on Friday.

Explaining the snub, Maoliosa McHugh cited Charles's links to the Parachute Regiment, whose soldiers were involved in the Bloody Sunday shootings in the city in 1972.

The Prince, who holds the role of Colonel-in-Chief of the regiment, was in the city on Friday to visit communities hit by summer flooding.

He has visited the city on a number of previous occasions.

Other senior Sinn Fein members have met and shaken hands with Charles in the past, including party president Gerry Adams.

Mr McHugh said meeting Charles in the city would be "premature", given the "unresolved sensitives" around Bloody Sunday.

Prosecutors in Northern Ireland are currently assessing whether to charge 18 former paras in connection with the events of Bloody Sunday. They are also due to examine files of evidence related to two former Official IRA members.

Mr McHugh said: "As a Sinn Fein elected representative and Mayor of Derry and Strabane, I am fully committed to reconciliation and to reaching out to the Unionist community.

"I also recognise the positive contribution made by members of the British Royal Family to the search for reconciliation and the need for greater understanding of the different narratives, which exist here.

Ulster Unionist Group Leader on Derry City and Strabane District Council, Derek Hussey, has expressed his dismay at unacceptable actions by Sinn Fein Mayor.

"Recent actions and comments from Mayor Maoliosa McHugh have caused justifiable dismay and anger for many within our community. Only a short time ago the Mayor wore the chain of office, whilst part of a Sinn Fein party political visit to a republican prisoner.

"However, his latest display of unacceptable behaviour has been his disrespectful and indeed despicable refusal to meet the Prince of Wales when His Royal Highness visited our council area to offer his support to those who had suffered during the August flooding emergency. Indeed many from all sections of our community expressed their appreciation of the interest and obvious humanity exhibited by Prince Charles during his visit.

He added: "The office of Mayor is meant to be apolitical and indeed Councillor McHugh in his acceptance speech indicated that he would represent all of our community during his mayoral year. Clearly Mayor McHugh's actions over the first four months of his term do not match his words and I suspect that we can be prepared for more displays of such lack of respect towards those with a Unionist perspective before the completion of his term of office," he said.

Ulster Unionist Omagh councillor Chris Smyth described the snub as 'petty'.

"I find the concept of a mayor not wanting to meet Prince Charles because he was Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute regiment the stupidest thing I have heard in a long time. His former leader, the late Martin McGuinness, was commander of the IRA in Londonderry during the Troubles and if he is so concerned about hurt caused by the parachute regiment, he must also look to the countless murders caused by the organisation his former leader caused just scant years ago.

Could you imagine the outcry from Sinn Fein if a unionist leader such as Robin Swann or Arlene Foster refused to meet a President of Ireland on a visit to Dublin."

He added that rather than this tit for tat nonsense the Mayor should respect the fact that Prince Charles is second in line to the throne and may one day be the Head of State in Northern Ireland. "If his former leader could meet Her Majesty the Queen which must have been extremely difficult for both parties but especially Her Majesty after the death of her cousin then the Mayor should have been able to do the same."


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