Belfast Telegraph

We won't celebrate moment unionists secured 'their wee statelet,' says Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald of Northern Ireland centenary

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald has said her party will not be part of celebrations to mark the centenary of the creation of Northern Ireland saying it was the moment unionists secured their "wee statelet".

The Dublin TD, in an interview with the Irish Times, said her party needed to be "very thoughtful in terms of what we say and how we comport ourselves for that particular occasion".

"No we don’t celebrate the establishment of the Northern state or partition,” she said.

Northern Ireland will be 100 in 2021. The DUP has argued for a public holiday to mark the occasion.

“Obviously, for unionists, that was the moment where they secured their ‘wee statelet’; and for Irish nationalism it is the moment when people woke up one morning and said: ‘What happened there?’” Mrs McDonald said.

"In terms of the border and the establishment of the northern state, I think for us as republicans it is a pause point to actually reflect back on the establishment of the state itself and the experience thereafter."

Sinn Fein's Irish presidential election Liadh Ni Riada said she would wear the poppy if elected as she wanted to represent all.

Mary Lou McDonald said the pledge has started a "very interesting conversation" saying the position of the president allowed for "big moves and big gestures". However, she said the poppy was a “very, very difficult symbol, not just for Sinn Fein people but for Irish nationalism generally”.

"I don’t think there is any expectation on me to wear the poppy, no more than there would be an expectation on Arlene Foster to wear an Easter lily. I wouldn’t be making that ask of her or the British prime minister to come in with an Easter lily in their lapel.”

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