Belfast Telegraph

SDLP's Seamus Mallon to be awarded Freedom of Drogheda despite objections from Sinn Fein

By Gareth Cross

Former Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon is to be awared the Freedom of Drogheda despite attempts from Sinn Fein to scupper the move.

The SDLP veteran is to be conferred the honour after a proposal from Fine Gael Councillor Richie Culhane who proposed that Mr Mallon be honoured for his work during the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland.

Mr Mallon also served as SDLP deputy leader and MP for Newry and Armagh for nearly 20 years.

Speaking at recent events marking the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement Mr Mallon said he was "sad and angry" at the state of politics in Northern Ireland.

He was criticised for his comments by Sinn Fein, with South Down MLA Sinead Ennis calling him an "angry man".

Awarding Mr Mallon the honour was discussed at Monday's meeting of Drogheda Borough Council.

The proposal received the support of two-thirds of the council with Sinn Fein members voting against.

SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh, Justin McNulty welcomed the proposal.

"I welcome the move by Mayor Pio Smith, offering Séamus Mallon freedom of Drogheda. It is however disappointing to see Sinn Féin voted this motion down," he said.

"Séamus Mallon was a key player in bringing peace to the North, and it is only right that he be honoured in this way.

"As the former MLA for my own constituency of Newry and Armagh, it fills me with much pride, but more importantly hope that the politics of the SDLP is recognised and the sacrifice of our leaders remembered.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson said that they felt it was wrong to signal out one person for their contribution to peace.

“Sinn Féin Councillors in Louth voted against the freedom of Drogheda for Séamus Mallon as they felt it was wrong to elevate one person who was involved in the peace process above all the others who were also important to ensuring a lasting peace in Ireland," the spokesperson said.

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