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Foyle DUP MLA Gary Middleton has said a decision by Derry City & Strabane District Council not to participate in any events to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland is a retrograde step and a blow for community relations in the area.

He said, "Regardless of anyone's viewpoint, the centenary of Northern Ireland is a significant milestone in our shared history. Whilst for I and many others it will be a celebration, there will be those too who will simply wish to reflect on events of the last century.

For Derry City and Strabane District Council to take a decision not to participate in any events during the entire year is a huge blow for community relations. Those Councillors who supported the motion appear happy to follow a retrograde approach which has developed in recent years within the Council.

Many will be particularly disappointed by the lack of leadership from within the SDLP on this issue. Instead of working to promote mutual understanding, they have turned their back completely on any event to mark a year which should be as much about looking forward to a better Northern Ireland as it is about marking its first century drawing to a close.

This is a retrograde step which should disappoint anyone focused on mutual respect and understanding."