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Foyle MLA Gary Middleton has said the decision by Derry City & Strabane District Council to reject an attempt to rescind the earlier decision not to participate in any event marking the centenary of Northern Ireland doubles down on disrespect.

The DUP MLA is to meet with the Equality Commission in relation to the decision and will urge them to take action.


The proposal was supported by the DUP, UUP and Alliance Party, but opposed by the SDLP, Sinn Fein and republican independents.

Mr Middleton said, "The decision last month to reject participation in any event marking the centenary of Northern Ireland was a blow to community relations within the Council area.

Instead of taking this second opportunity offered to them, some Parties and Councillors decided to double down on the disrespect displayed by the first decision. The SDLP website tells us they are a party which wants to build a future "where reconciliation, equality and inclusion are chapter headings in the new story we will write together". Rather than put these words into action the SDLP have damaged reconciliation and actively excluded anyone who wishes to reflect on or mark the centenary of Northern Ireland from the civic life of the Council area.

A DUP delegation will meet with the Equality Commission in relation to this decision. There are clear and obvious impacts on both the equality and good relations, not least because the decision goes against the Council's own Equality and Good Relations Strategies.

No-one is pretending that every citizen of the Londonderry & Strabane area is likely to celebrate the centenary of Northern Ireland, but if we are to build a shared future then allowing the opportunity to at least build a better knowledge and understanding of such a major event is the least we should expect.

The leadership of each party that cannot bring itself to offer simple respect and tolerance should explain their decision. Each of the main parties have supported the Decade of Centenaries approach yet now some are turning their back on that."