The SDLP is to accept an invitation to an intercommunal church service in Armagh marking the centenary of the partition and formation of Northern Ireland.
Party leader Colum Eastwood said attending a service in Ireland’s ecclesiastical capital “does nothing to diminish anyone’s Irish nationalism” but he hopes it “will help break down barriers of mistrust that persisted between our communities ”.
He said he understood it would be a “difficult decision for some, and others made a different decision.”
It is not known who will participate on behalf of the SDLP, but it should be a senior representative of the party.
The DUP and the Ulster Unionist and Alliance parties confirmed to the Irish Times on Thursday that their respective party leaders Jeffrey Donaldson, Doug Beattie and Naomi Long have received invitations to the service and will attend.
Last month, the president declined invitations from the top five Christian churches to attend the event because he believed the title was politicized and that it would not be appropriate for him to attend.
Church leaders have insisted the event is not political.
The government is expected to approve plans to send a multi-party delegation to the service on Thursday.
It is to be held in the Cathedral of the Church of Ireland in Armagh on October 21.
Sinn Féin has always said he would not participate. The party said on Thursday it was sticking to comments described by Chairman and Deputy Minister of the North Executive Declan Kearney at an event hosted by churches in Belfast last month, which he described as ” a welcome opportunity which gave Sinn Féin a platform, and also those from other perspectives, to present their analysis and experience of partition in Ireland ”.
“I have made it clear to the churches that Sinn Féin will not be attending the Armagh event because, unfortunately, it does not provide the same opportunity to address the legacy of the partition, which has been a disaster for the inhabitants of this island. ”
Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland on Thursday that it would be “wrong” for the government to send a representative to the service.
In a statement released Thursday, the SDLP leader said the partition and commemoration were “deeply political events”.
“I fully understand why it was not possible for President Higgins to attend the event in Armagh. As President of Ireland he has different considerations to judge, “he said, adding that Mr Higgins had” dedicated himself and his presidency to reconciliation and understanding between our communities. “.
However, he said his party’s decision to attend was “to stretch ourselves to heal the wounds of the score.
“It’s about going beyond ourselves and reaching people from a different tradition, many of whom are for the first time seeing a new future for our island.
“My job as a leader of nationalism is to talk to them, to hear their concerns and to convince them that change is possible,” he said.