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7 November 2002 Edition

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Maskey holds City Hall reception for Royal British Legion

In a major break with republican tradition, Sinn Féin Mayor of Belfast Alex Maskey held the first ever reception for the British Royal Legion at Belfast City Hall on Monday 4 November.

Representatives from the Royal British Legion from across the Six Counties attended the reception, which was, ironically, boycotted by unionist political representatives from Belfast City Council.

However, Brigadier David Strudley of the Legion praised Maskey for his "brave and enormous contribution to crossing bridges".

Strudley also acknowledged that Maskey, who refused to wear a poppy, was in "an extremely sensitive position and it would be foolish not to recognise this".

Speaking to An Phoblacht, Maskey explained that his gesture to the Legion was aimed "at finding ways to remember the dead of two world wars.

"As Mayor of Belfast and as a republican I saw this as an important opportunity to demonstrate the ethos of equality that is at the core of republicanism and to reach out to those who have a different perspective of the Worlds Wars than republicans."

The Sinn Féin Mayor said he accepted that November was an important month for the Royal British Legion but that he would not be accepting any of the invitations sent him to attend its ceremonies. "I have outlined my reasons for not attending those events," he said.

"Both nationalists and unionists died together during the world wars and they should be remembered together, so it is important that we find ways of doing this, especially given that the historic conflict between Ireland and Britain is still unresolved."


Rally against death drivers



Sinn Féin Mayor of Belfast Alex Maskey attended an anti-death driver rally organised by Families Bereaved Through Car Crime in North Belfast on Sunday 3 November.

The rally on Sunday afternoon was the latest organised by the families of people killed by car thieves to highlight the seriousness of car crime.

Among those attending the rally were many of the relatives of those killed by car thieves in attendance, including Kevin Fitzpatrick, whose wife Dana and son Kevin were mown down by death drivers almost three years ago.

The rally, which began in Ardoyne, ended on the Antrim Road at the spot where Dana and Kevin Fitzpatrick were killed by a stolen car. Flowers had been laid at the spot in memory of the pair.

Kevin Fitzpatrick called for harsher sentences for the death drivers convicted of car crime. Also speaking at the rally, Alex Maskey said that car crime took a "terrible toll" on communities. He praised the bereaved families, "who have come together despite their own problems to organise a very commendable campaign.

"I fully support their calls for tougher sentences for people involved in repeat car crime and I also back their work to prevent it happening again."

Maskey said more resources were needed to prevent car crime, including education initiatives to highlight the damage caused by car theft and death driving.


Volunteers honoured



Fallen IRA Volunteers from the markets area of Belfast were honoured at a commemoration on Sunday afternoon, 3 November. Sinn Féin's Alex Maskey was the main speaker.

The parade marched from Joy Street to Friendly Way, where a mural commemorating the dead Volunteers was officially dedicated.

Up to 100 people listened as Maskey spoke in honour of the area's republican dead and their commitment to the struggle.

The Sinn Féin councillor, who represents the area in City Hall and who knew personally some of those fighters commemorated on the mural, commended them as "people of the highest integrity".

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An Phoblacht
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Dublin 1
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