Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council was honoured to raise the Red Ensign Flag at Lagan Valley Island to mark Merchant Navy Day on Saturday, September 3.
The Mayor, Councillor Brian Bloomfield MBE was joined by fellow elected members, Chief Executive Dr Theresa Donaldson, Robbie Butler MLA, members of the Sea Cadets and the Merchant Navy Association (Belfast Branch).
Speaking about the inaugural flag raising, the Mayor said: “It was a privilege to host a ceremony to remember the sacrifices, salute the courage and support the future of the often unsung personnel of our Merchant Navy. Our city has flown the recognised flag of the British Merchant Navy to remember the many brave men and women who kept our nation afloat during both World Wars.
“After both World Wars those who worked at sea played a huge part in establishing a strong UK economy as they carried goods to and from our shores. The flying of the Red Ensign also recognises those who still face the routine perils of violent storms and unpredictable waters to play a vital role in the economy with high security ports being the hub of international trade deliveries of more than 90% of our imports.”
Historically, people remember the 3rd September 1939 as the outbreak of the Second World War. However it also marks the first major British maritime casualty when the SS Athenia was torpedoed within hours of hostilities being declared and 128 lost their lives. This ordinary passenger ship was west of Ireland, en route to Canada when she was torpedoed after being mistaken for an armed ship.
The Red Ensign was raised by Mr John Coulter, Chairman of the Merchant Navy Association and Robbie Butler, MLA read a message from His Royal Highness the Earl of Wessex at the flag raising ceremony.
Those in attendance held a one minute silence in memory of merchant navy veterans.