Derry MP Colum Eastwood to attend funeral of Queen Elizabeth II

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP is to attend the State Funeral for Queen Elizabeth II, on Monday September 19 at 11am in Westminster Abbey, it has been confirmed.

Speaking following Queen Elizabeth II’s death, the Foyle MP said that she had become one of the most consequential figures of the last century during her long reign and paid tribute to the strong bonds of friendship that she helped to foster between Britain and Ireland.

“Queen Elizabeth II was, without doubt, one of the most consequential civic figures of the last century. As British Monarch, and a member of the British Royal Family, she has provided leadership to her people from the fires of conflict in Europe during the second world war to the peace that the peoples of these islands now enjoy.

He continued: “My thoughts and the thoughts of all those in the SDLP are with Queen Elizabeth’s family at an extraordinarily difficult time. The blessing of a long life does not make the burden of saying goodbye any lighter. I also want to extend my deep condolences to all those, across the world, but particularly in Northern Ireland for whom the Queen held a cherished place in their lives and their hearts. I know how difficult it is to lose your heroes and I hope they are comforted by the enduring legacy that she will leave, having been witness to and having helped to shape our shared story.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood MP

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“Elizabeth’s influence on Ireland, our people and our peace cannot be underestimated. She, too, experienced the sharp pain of loss following the murder of her uncle in Mullaghmore but in common with the people of Ireland remained committed to reconciliation between our islands. That commitment was demonstrated powerfully and publicly during her visit in 2011 and particularly the quiet dignity on show during her visit to the garden of remembrance.

“I met Queen Elizabeth on a number of occasions as SDLP Leader. And while it’s difficult to think of two people more divorced from one another in background and aspiration, I found her to be warm, welcoming and totally concerned with the needs and interests of people. I understand that a debate on her legacy will now follow, particularly in the context of Northern Ireland. I would ask that views be tempered in the coming days in light of the loss that so many people in our community will be feeling right now.

“Ar dheis Dé go raibh a hanam.”