The Mayor of Derry today defended his decision to hold a private reception for Army troops in the city amid calls for his resignation from Republicans.
SDLP Councillor Gerard Diver has faced fierce criticism over the reception for the Royal Irish Regiment and the Territorial Army who had served in the Middle East on Friday night, details of which were not made public.
He said: “From the start of my term, I have committed myself to be a Mayor for all. In that spirit of civic responsibility and of equality for all traditions, I responded to this request and agreed to host an informal reception for returning TA personnel from the city and district.
“This event was a civilian occasion for the personnel and their families, with no uniforms or military trappings.
“It is in the interest of respect and equality that I responded to this request and agreed to host this informal reception. It was for men and women from our city and district, who, on a human level, had returned home safely to their community. It was a civilian occasion with their families.
He added:“All mayoral receptions are at the Mayor's discretion and the decision to hold an informal gathering for this grouping is one that I believe was the right one in the interests of equality.”
Sinn Fein Councillor Maeve McLaughlin however said the decision had caused shockwaves among local people whose loved ones had been killed by the Army. “I think the decision to host an event such as this was shameful.”