Belfast's republican mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir backs Royal British Legion request to illuminate City Hall in red for Remembrance Day poppy appeal
Belfast's republican Lord Mayor has promised to back plans to promote next month's Remembrance Day poppy appeal.
Mairtin O Muilleoir confirmed he is supporting a British Legion request to illuminate City Hall in red on October 24 for the poppy appeal launch in the interests of "building peace".
Mr O Muilleoir said he had been involved in discussions with the British Legion for six months before he became lord mayor.
"Their aim is the same as mine, to remember the dead of the great war, and the carnage and destruction that destroyed the cream of our manhood across this nation," he said.
"My discussions with the British Legion and the Somme Association are continuing. We are looking at all these things in a bid to find common ground."
Lyn Palmer, the British Legion's NI district community fundraiser, said: "If they are able to facilitate us in this way the Legion will be delighted."
SDLP councillor Pat McCarthy welcomed Mr O Muilleoir's promise of council support "in the spirit of reconciliation and inclusiveness".
However, he challenged Mr O Mulleoir to go even further by attending the actual ceremony.
The councillor also took the opportunity to remind council members that last year's ceremony was attended by Taniste Eamon Gilmore and the SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell.
He continued: "There are few families across the island of Ireland who were not impacted by the Great War and it is fitting to commemorate that in a dignified and appropriate way."
Mr O Muilleoir's great-grandfather was a British Army soldier who died in WW1 while training troops. He was given a military funeral on the Falls Road in west Belfast in 1916.
Asked on BBC Radio UlsterBBC Radio Ulster's Talkback programme if he would wear a poppy for his great grandfather, the mayor said: "No. I suppose as an Irish republican I'm not alone in the fact I have relatives who died in the Great War and obviously many relatives of other republicans who served in the British Army after that and I hope that we can show respect for the dead without having to wear a poppy.
"I know that it's something that I won't do, that I'm not able to do and therefore I need to say that in a way which is respectful.
"We need to set out some of the parameters and what I'm saying to those who want to unite our people around remembrance is 'what else can we do? What else can we do that maybe helps to heal the hurt over remembrance and brings our people together?'
"It's a bigger challenge because we need to make sure that what we don't do is we don't insult each other in how we remember the dead."