Mary Lou McDonald congratulates the Queen on Platinum Jubilee

Mary Lou McDonald congratulates the Queen on Platinum Jubilee

LEADER OF Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald has congratulated the Queen on her Platinum Jubilee.

Queen Elizabeth's Platinum Jubilee is the first for a British monarch, marking 70 years of service to the people of the United Kingdom, the Realms and the Commonwealth.

To celebrate the unprecedented anniversary, events and initiatives will take place throughout the year, culminating in a four day UK bank holiday weekend from Thursday 2 to Sunday 5 June.

Mary Lou McDonald was reacting to the news that a tree is to be planted in the grounds of Parliament Buildings at Stormont to mark the anniversary.

"I think it is important that we are respectful of the identity of our citizens who are British," she said on Thursday.

"I think that is entirely appropriate and I welcome that decision.

She wished well to those who will celebrate the jubilee, and said she believes those who won't "are now big enough, bold enough, generous enough to acknowledge the identity of others."

"Can I also extend to the British Queen a word of congratulations because 70 years is quite some record," she added.

"That is what you call a lifetime of service."

Last month the DUP called called for an equality investigation into a decision to prevent a tree being planted on the Stormont estate to mark Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee.

The party accused Sinn Féin Finance Minister Conor Murphy of “intolerance and disrespect” after he declined approval for the tree planting.

The DUP wrote to the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, which oversees adherence to equality laws in the region, asking for the decision to be investigated.

However on Wednesday Assembly Speaker Alex Maskey issued a u-turn to announce that a tree would be planted on the grounds adjacent to Parliament Buildings which are continued by the Assembly Commission.

Speaking about the original veto, DUP Mid Ulster MLA Keith Buchannan said:

"It is ridiculous that SF ever vetoed a tree to pay tribute to Her Majesty the Queen. It is not just unionists who have been appalled by Sinn Fein’s disrespect. Less than two weeks ago, Sinn Fein Councillors in Mid Ulster vetoed even a simple letter of congratulations being sent to Her Majesty the Queen. Is Mary Lou McDonald prepared to say those actions were both insensitive and wrong?"

"The Finance Minister Conor Murphy vetoed a rose bush marking the Centenary of Northern Ireland. Michelle O’Neill should call on Conor Murphy to reverse this insensitive decision.

"People will make their own judgement about the motivation behind this apparent u-turn from Sinn Fein. It will soon become clear if it is just a short-term tactic to relieve pressure in the teeth of an election campaign."

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson also said unionists were tired of the "disrespect" of their culture.

"I welcome the fact that the Assembly Commission has now decided that a tree may be planted, that is a good thing.

"But I think unionists are tired of the lack of respect for our tradition, our culture, our identity, and they want to see an end to this disrespect."