'It doesn't make me any less Irish' accepting MBE says former republican internee Pat McCarthy
A former republican internee has defended his decision to accept an honour from the Queen.
Pat McCarthy, a former SDLP mayor, was awarded an MBE for services to local government.
Defending his decision Mr McCarthy who was interned in 1971 said it "doesn't make me any less Irish".
He told the BBC Stephen Nolan Show: "It came completely out of the blue and when I made inquiries as to who had nominated me I felt very humbled and I thought it was a worthwhile accepting it.
"I tried to work with everyone over the 14 years I was on the council and I thought it was a reflection of the work I had done.
"I was nominated by a cross-section of community and church groups in south Belfast and beyond.
He continued: "No-one at anytime told me, 'you don't take this you don't take that'.
"We are living in 2016 it's not 1916 we have moved on from them."
Mr McCarthy said he had been congratulated by the leader of the SDLP Colum Eastwood.
"No-one in the party told me not to take it. They said to me look pat if you want to take it, take it."
"The party leader text me and said 'Congratulations Pat, you've deserved it.'
"There are always people who will say that, who will criticise you.
"Every aspect of life we have these people."
He added: "It doesn't make me any less Irish."