Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein Mayor Finucane lays Somme wreath at Belfast City Hall

Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Credit:Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Credit:Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye

Sinn Fein's Belfast mayor said he thought about his great-great-grandfather who died at the Somme as he laid a wreath to commemorate all those killed in the battle.

John Finucane became the latest Sinn Fein mayor to mark an anniversary that has particular resonance for the unionist community in Northern Ireland, given the huge losses sustained by the 36th Ulster Division in the 1916 battle.

Following recent tradition when the party has held the position of city mayor, Mr Finucane stayed away from the official commemorative event marking the first day of the battle, instead laying a laurel wreath at the Cenotaph at City Hall in a low-key ceremony early on Monday morning.

Mr Finucane, whose solicitor father Pat was murdered by loyalist gunmen during the Troubles, said he hoped his gesture would be interpreted by unionists as a genuine effort to reach across the community divide.

The newly elected councillor revealed that the occasion had a particular personal poignancy, with his great-great-grandfather on his father's side having been killed on the opening day of the Somme.

Mr Finucane, who also had another relative killed in the First World War, said he was "very proud" to have laid the wreath.

"Even though it's a long time ago I still do feel that personal connection," he said.

"I appreciate I am not here personally (in personal capacity) today, I'm here as the mayor, but I do have that personal connection and it was in my mind as I laid the wreath this morning."

He added: "I am very comfortable in my political skin with regards to reaching out to unionists, having conversations with unionists, showing respect whenever I carry out my role today in laying the wreath.

"I hope that I did that - that's perhaps for others to judge - but it doesn't cause me a moment's hesitation to lay the wreath today and it won't cause me a moment's hesitation to continue to reach out to unionists in the future."

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds.
Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Fionnuala Jay-OÕBoyle at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast General view of bandsmen of the Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Fionnuala Jay-OÕBoyle at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Fionnuala Jay-OÕBoyle at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Fionnuala Jay-OÕBoyle at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast General view of bandsmen of the Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Deputy Lord Mayor of Belfast Councillor Peter McReynolds (Alliance) at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Robin Swann at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Robin Swann at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Emma Little-Pengelly, Nigel Dodds and Gavin Robinson at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Nigel Dodds a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley at a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 1st July 2019 Battle of the Somme Commemoration in Belfast The Anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, in which Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers and Men of the 36th (Ulster) Division, the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces made the supreme sacrifice, is commemorated at the Cenotaph in the Garden of Remembrance, Belfast City Hall grounds. Nigel Dodds a wreath laying ceremony to mark the Battle of the Somme in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Photo by Kelvin Boyes / Press Eye.
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
1st July 2019 Belfast Mayor John Finucane pictured as he lays a laurel wreath at the City Hall in remembrance of those killed at the Somme. Mandatory Credit / Stephen Hamilton-Presseye
Sean Bateson Sinn Fein Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council lays a laurel wreath at Coleraine War Memorial to mark the 103rd Battle of the somme on Monday morning, with Chief Executive of CCGBC David Jackson and Caoimhe Archibald MLA.PICTURE KEVIN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Sean Bateson Sinn Fein Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council lays a laurel wreath at Coleraine War Memorial to mark the 103rd Battle of the somme on Monday morning, with Chief Executive of CCGBC David Jackson and Caoimhe Archibald MLA.PICTURE KEVIN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Sean Bateson Sinn Fein Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council lays a laurel wreath at Coleraine War Memorial to mark the 103rd Battle of the somme on Monday morning, with Chief Executive of CCGBC David Jackson and Caoimhe Archibald MLA.PICTURE KEVIN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Sean Bateson Sinn Fein Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council lays a laurel wreath at Coleraine War Memorial to mark the 103rd Battle of the somme on Monday morning, with Chief Executive of CCGBC David Jackson and Caoimhe Archibald MLA.PICTURE KEVIN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA
Sean Bateson Sinn Fein Mayor of Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council lays a laurel wreath at Coleraine War Memorial to mark the 103rd Battle of the somme on Monday morning, with Chief Executive of CCGBC David Jackson and Caoimhe Archibald MLA.PICTURE KEVIN MCAULEY/MCAULEY MULTIMEDIA

Sinn Fein is unwilling to participate in official First World War commemorations in Northern Ireland, such as the Somme anniversary and Remembrance Sunday, claiming there are excessive British military trappings on show.

Mr Finucane said the party was "up for a conversation" with organisers on how such events, from his perspective, could recognise all political traditions in the city.

"We are up for having that conversation as to how we can commemorate in a very respectful way that recognises the very broad political spectrum of those who are here to remember and commemorate," he said.

Mr Finucane also chaired a special council meeting on Monday morning to endorse a resolution praising those who died.

The resolution accords the council's gratitude to the "brave men of the 36th (Ulster) Division and the 16th (Irish) Division and other forces" for their sacrifice during battle.

Men from all over of Ireland fought at the Somme.

The opening day of battle - July 1, 1916, - remains the bloodiest in the British Army's history.

A total of 19,240 were killed within 24 hours and almost a 10th of those who died that day were from the 36th Division.

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