DUP says SF criticism of £200k spend on Queen and Somme is ‘insulting’

Cllr Mark Baxter
Cllr Mark Baxter

The DUP has lashed back at criticisms of a £200k spend by the local Council on the Queen’s 90th birthday and the Somme describing them as ‘an insult’.

Sinn Fein Councillor Liam Mackle had branded the funds spend on the birthday events, the Somme commemoration and 12th July events as excessive.

Queen Elizabeth II walks through Norman Porch ahead of the State Opening of Parliament, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 18, 2016. See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Queen Elizabeth II walks through Norman Porch ahead of the State Opening of Parliament, in the House of Lords at the Palace of Westminster in London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday May 18, 2016. See PA story POLITICS Speech. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire

However DUP Group Leader on Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council Cllr Mark Baxter described his attitude as ‘ludicrous’.

“His statement at best is misleading, given the two main events he’s talked about came from specific DUP tabled motions where they received majority support from councillors.

“To call “splurging “money on Pro union” events such as the Somme Commemoration is not only insulting to the memory of all those from all traditions from this community who lost their lives but its grossly inaccurate. It also appears to be at odds with his own party colleagues as Cllr Gareth Keating is only back from a council sponsored trip to the Somme battlefields and indeed his party sat on the working group who oversaw the spend.

“The massive and sacrificial contribution by those who had the courage to step up and join units such as the 36th Ulster Division from this district and spill their blood so heroically in protecting the freedoms we all enjoy today, will never be forgotten by our Party and that is why it is vital that their sacrifice is forever remembered. It is worth noting that his party didn’t table any such motion for Easter insurrection events that he has mentioned, and if he did concentrate in representing his constituents instead of trying to be divisive and try to make political points of how we represent ours he may have held onto his seat at the last election.

Cllr Liam Mackle

Cllr Liam Mackle

“As a society we are trying to move on and I would urge Cllr Mackle to reflect on his comments and his tone, to use terms such as “ the queen of England “ is petty in the extreme but not surprising from a councillor who appears to be playing politics from the past. It would be interesting to hear from his own council colleagues who no doubt will be somewhat embarrassed by this rant.

“As a party we make no apology for celebrating Her Majesty’s 90th birthday by providing a public concert, nor do we apologise for supporting and initiating Somme commemorative events. We cherish our Monarchy and indeed the memories of those who died in the Great War.”