"Conor Murphy has once again shown us that despite Sinn Féin’s rhetoric about inclusiveness, the whole ethos of his Party is to exclude Unionists.
Last year, he refused to allow the planting of a rose bush in the grounds of Stormont to mark Northern Ireland’s 100th anniversary. This year, he has continued down the same path of bigotry and discrimination by refusing to have a tree planted to commemorate the Queen’s platinum anniversary.
As Finance Minister, Murphy has control over what happens in the grounds of Stormont but he seems to be unwilling to allow any reference to the things that Unionists would hold dear.
I contrast Conor Murphy’s behaviour with the choices which I made when I was Finance Minister. That period coincided with the 125th anniversary of the GAA and I was approached by Gerry Adams to allow a tree to be planted in Stormont to commemorate and celebrate that anniversary. Despite the reservations I had about the GAA’s willingness to be identified with Republican terrorists and at that time their inclusion of members of the security forces, I nevertheless recognised that Stormont grounds were public property and was pleased that those who were nationalists wished to have their sporting activities recognised in that public space. I therefore acceded to their request and for an event to mark the anniversary.
Clearly, Conor Murphy and Sinn Fein do not share the same values as Unionists and their petty exclusiveness should be a reminder to all who think that there would be no harm in a Sinn Fein First Minister after the next election. Sinn Fein have shown no embarrassment in abusing positions which they hold.
I hope that the refusal to allow a tree to planted will sow the seed of determination that these people must not be allowed to become the dominant party in Northern Ireland."