Belfast Telegraph

Great day for two new cities

Newry's Sinn Fein chairman absent

By Ben Lowry

SINN Fein stayed away from an audience with the Queen when she officially conferred city status on Newry last night.

SINN Fein stayed away from an audience with the Queen when she officially conferred city status on Newry last night.

At a brief ceremony in the Throne Room at Hillsborough Castle, Newry and Lisburn were presented with Letters Patent from the Queen.

In place of the Sinn Fein chairman of Newry, Davy Hyland, the council's vice- chairman, Frank Feely of the SDLP, accepted the conferral.

Mr Feely, who preferred not to bow before the Queen, said: "I'm delighted for the people of Newry. Unlike Sinn Fein, who take government money and yet refuse to meet the Queen, the SDLP saw no reason not to be here.

"It doesn't lessen our Irishness or our nationalist views. We believe in the unity of Ireland through partnership and consent."

Also presented with the document and great seal, conferring city status, was Lisburn's mayor Jim Dillon.

Mr Dillon, who made an optional head bow to the Queen, said: "I'm over the moon. I met her, with the Duke of Edinburgh, last November when she opened our new civic centre.

"This is absolutely tremendous for the people of Lisburn."

After the brief ceremony in the Throne Room, the Queen and Prince Philip joined more than 30 representatives from the two new cities for a champagne reception.

Lisburn and Newry were awarded city status as part of a competition to mark the Golden Jubilee.

It was also granted, in March this year, to Preston in England, Stirling in Scotland and Newport in Wales.

The Royal couple left Hillsborough for Stormont at around 7.10pm. Among the crowd standing outside Hillsborough Castle to cheer them was local couple Harry and Ena Shortt, who always come out to see the Queen on her visits.

Mrs Shortt said: "I think it is brilliant that they come to Northern Ireland. I wish they could come more often."

The Queen's motorcade then left for Stormont.

The convoy followed a shorter, but slower, route to Parliament Buildings, along the Hillhall Road and Knock dual carriageway.

The decision to take the road was unpublicised but a number of residents along the route had anticipated and were waiting along the road.

Others rushed outside in surprise to catch a glimpse of the Queen when they saw the advance motorcycle outriders, while some car drivers travelling in the opposite direction pulled into the side of the route and got out to wave.

The convoy rolled through the countryside at around 40mph but did not have to stop once and covered the 15 miles in 25 minutes.

Belfast Telegraph


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