Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 10 October 2015

Limavady mayor to lead first day of reflection

By Clare Weir

Published 08/12/2006

Limavady is to follow in the footsteps of Londonderry by holding its first cross-community Day of Reflection, in memory of victims of conflict.

Sinn Fein mayor John Felix McElhinney, who lost two uncles during World War Two, said he will lead the service on Sunday.

The revelation has prompted a former mayor of the borough to encourage more nationalists to attend the official November 11 remembrance commemorations.

In December 2004, Sinn Fein mayor of Derry Gerry O'hEara sparked controversy by setting up a civic event in Derry to remember all victims of conflict, including paramilitaries.

Councillor McElhinney today said he "implored" people from the borough to get involved.

"As first citizen, I implore everyone to take a moment of reflection on Sunday in respect of the poor souls who lost their life in conflict, be it on this land or foreign soil," he said.

"I lost two uncles myself in the Second World War and many good friends and decent neighbours during the Troubles."

The mayor will plant a tree in memory of all victims of conflict outside the Roe Valley Country Park centre at 12 noon on Sunday after a prayer service and choral recitation from local churches.

"During my time as mayor I have offered a hand of friendship to all," he said. "Not only to my decent unionist neighbours, but also to those who previously would not have given me the time of day just because I am a life-long member of Sinn Fein.

"I am delighted to tell you that on every occasion I have reached out I received as warm and as friendly a handshake in return as the one offered."

However, former Ulster Unionist mayor Jack Rankin said it was a pity that people in the borough felt they could not attend the traditional Armistice Day commemoration.

"I am happy to attend the November 11 event every year to pay homage to the fallen in all conflicts," he said.

"It is just a pity that all people feel that they cannot attend. It should be a shared, cross-community experience and this year Father Collins, a local priest, even led part of the service."

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