Sinn Féin's Mary Lou McDonald congratulates British Queen on 'lifetime of service'
'I think it is important that we are respectful of the identity of our citizens who are British'
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has passed on her congratulations to Britain’s Queen on a "lifetime of service" on her Platinum Jubilee.
Mrs McDonald was reacting to the news that a tree is to be planted in the grounds of Parliament Buildings at Stormont in Northern Ireland to mark the milestone.
She said: "I think it is important that we are respectful of the identity of our citizens who are British.
"I think that is entirely appropriate and I welcome that decision.
"For those who will celebrate the jubilee, I wish them well and a good jubilee and for those of us that don't I believe we are now big enough, bold enough, generous enough to acknowledge the identity of others."
She added: "Can I also extend to the British Queen a word of congratulations because 70 years is quite some record.
"That is what you call a lifetime of service."
Permission was granted by the Assembly Commission this week for the tree planting.
The commission, made up of representatives of the main Stormont parties, has responsibility for the Parliament Buildings.
Last month, Stormont’s Finance Minister Conor Murphy ordered a review of the policy of which events can be commemorated in the Stormont estate following a row over a decision to prevent the tree planting.
The DUP had called for an equality investigation and accused Mr Murphy of "intolerance and disrespect".
DUP Assembly member Joanne Bunting had originally sought permission to plant the tree on the estate as part of the Queen's Green Canopy project, an initiative that encourages people across the UK to "Plant a Tree for the Jubilee".
Mr Murphy, whose department has responsibility for the grounds of the Stormont estate, insisted that official policy dictated that only "international events" could be commemorated with physical structures or planting.
He then decided to review that policy.
Last year, Sinn Féin vetoed a proposal put to the Assembly Commission to place a commemorative stone in Stormont's Parliament Buildings to mark Northern Ireland's centenary.
Sinn Féin insisted the stone had been "designed and commissioned by representatives of one tradition" and accused unionists of failing to consult with other parties about their plan.
Last year, Mr Murphy also turned down a DUP request to plant a commemorative rose bush to mark Northern Ireland's centenary within the Stormont estate.
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