Mallon defends meeting Para Prince
SDLP Deputy Minister Seamus Mallon has defended his party's decision to meet the heir to the British throne, Prince Charles, describing the welcome as a ``gesture of respect for all traditions in the North''.
A visit to Derry's Magee College was cancelled after nationalists objected to the Colonel in Chief of the Parachute regiment visiting the city where 14 unarmed Irish civilians were shot dead by British paratroopers in 1972.
Organisers acknowledged that the presence of the British prince would have been ``insensitive'' particularly as the Saville Inquiry into the events surrounding Bloody Sunday was taking place in the Guildhall.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, Education Minister Martin McGuinness and Health Minister Bairbre de Brún refused an invitation to attend a garden party hosted by Peter Mandelson and to be attended by the British prince at Hillsborough Castle.
``Republicans will not be attending, but perhaps it would be appropriate for the British prince to use the occasion to apologise for the actions of the paratroopers,'' said a Sinn Féin spokesperson.