Unionist leaders say NI centernary stone to be sited at Stormont later in the summer

Work has been completed on the NI centenary stone

A ceremonial stone to mark Northern Ireland's centenary is expected to be sited in the Stormont estate later this summer, unionist leaders have said.

A proposal for the stone sparked a row in the Assembly in 2021 - the year of the region's centenary - when Sinn Fein opposed the proposal.

However, it was passed by the Assembly Commission earlier this year after the

Sinn Fein representative on the body dropped off.

The stone has been paid for by the unionist parties at Stormont.

In a joint statement on Monday evening, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, UUP leader Doug Beattie and TUV Leader Jim Allister, said work on the stone has been completed.

"We welcome the fact that work on the centenary stone which was commissioned and will be paid for by Stormont's Unionist parties has now been completed," they said.

"The Northern Ireland Assembly Commission which approved a proposal to erect the stone in the grounds of Stormont, will meet later this month to decide precisely where it will be sited.

"It is both right and fitting that such an historic milestone in the life of Northern Ireland is marked at Stormont.

"We look forward to a public unveiling of the centenary stone later this summer."

The commission, a body which continues to function to manage Stormont's property, staff and services, passed the proposal in February.

It is currently consists of representatives of four of the five largest parties at Stormont: DUP, UUP, Alliance and SDLP.

Sinn Fein representative John O'Dowd stood down from the commission in 2022 after he was appointed infrastructure minister.

He was unable to be replaced by a party colleague due to the effective collapse of the institutions.

In 2021, Sinn Fein said it vetoed the proposal because 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.

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