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Sinn Fein In Bid To Block Royal Visit

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

SINN Fein members of Mid-Ulster District Council attempted to block the visit of Prince Charles to the new Seamus Heaney Centre in Bellaghy, the Courier understands.

The party's contingent on the Council were narrowly outvoted in their attempts to block a Council proposal to hold a reception for the Heir to the Throne as he visited the district last week.

HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall visited the 4 million Council-funded centre, the creation of which was championed enthusiastically by Sinn Fein, last Tuesday.

It is understood the Council hierarchy saw the visit to the centre by Royalty would help publicise the state-of-the-art facility, opened at significant expense to the ratepayer last Autumn.

However, at the Council's most recent monthly meeting, at private business which the Press was not permitted to attend, the proposed visit was the subject of lengthy conversation.

It is understood the Sinn Fein contingent spoke against the visit, indicating their opposition, before softening their position to questioning why a formal reception should be held for the Royal visitors.

However, it was stressed the Royal visit would provide a great opportunity to raise the profile of the centre, and all unionist members and the SDLP voted in favour of the visit and having a formal reception for the Royals.

Many members of the Heaney family and numerous Councillors attended the Heaney Centre last Tuesday, including many of the unionist members, as well as Deputy Chair of the Council Sharon McAleer and fellow SDLP members Martin Kearney and Christine McFlynn.

No Sinn Fein Councillors were in attendance to greet Charles and Camilla as they arrived in Bellaghy.

The Courier contacted Sinn Fein for a statement, but had received none at the time of going to press.

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