Sacrifices of armed forces recognised

LISBURN City Council has supported a motion which recognises the sacrifice of local service men and women.

At Tuesday night’s meeting of the full council Alderman Jim Dillon proposed that Lisburn City Council recognises the sacrifice of the many fallen and injured service personnel of the city area serving and have served in conflicts both at home and abroad realises the potential for this council and other statutory bodies to provide practical and moral support to service personnel, veterans and their families and commits to give meaning to its support for our service personnel and veterans by signing the community covenant as a voluntary statement of our support for the local armed forces community.”

Seconding the motion which included a slight amendment to the wording Alderman Allan Ewart said, “It gives me great pleasure to second the motion in support of our armed forces and I commend Alderman Dillon for bringing the motion forward. Lisburn City Council over the years has supported the troops stationed at Thiepval Barracks and during my term as Mayor one of the events that stands out was presenting the Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan to members of the 40th Regiment of the Royal Artillery, the Lowland Gunners. During 40 years of terrorism by the PIRA many of our citizens paid the supreme sacrifice including a brother of Councillor Ronnie Crawford, and in Afghanistan Captain Mark Hale, husband of Brenda Hale MLA lost his life. It is imperative that we do all we can to support those who on a daily basis defend and support our nation at home and abroad. I see no reason why anyone would have difficulty in signing the community covenant as a voluntary statement of support for the local armed forces community.”

20 members voted in favour of the motion while five members including SDLP and Sinn Fein members voted against.

Sinn Fein Councillor David Bell described the motion as “divisive” and said it would cause “stress and anxiety for those hurt or killed by the British Military”. He also described it as “insulting”, “insensitive” and an “enfringement of human rights”.

SDLP Councillor Pat Catney who opposed the motion said that it was an issue which needed to be put forward to Stormont to decide but also made it clear that he is not “anti-British”.

Alliance Councillor Stephen Martin disagreed with Mr Catney saying it was the role of the council to discuss the motion as it was an issue relevant to the local citizens.

The Mayor, Alderman William Leathem highlighted to the Sinn Fein members that their party colleagues hadn’t opposed the Royal Irish Regiment being bestowed the freedom of the city .

Sinn Fein Councillor Stephen Magennis commented: “You need to take on board we are showing the views of our community.”

Alderman Paul Givan described the action of Sinn Fein and the SDLP as regrettable.