REMEMBRANCE Sunday commemorations are set to be severely restricted in the Mid and East Antrim area this year as the Covid pandemic continues.
Cllr Peter Johnston, the Mayor of Mid & East Antrim Borough Council, told a meeting in Ballymena: “The Royal British Legion across the country is not holding church services or parades this year, however, some are planning to hold an Act of Remembrance at various Memorial Gardens and Cenotaphs.”
He said council officers had been liaising with local branches about Remembrance Sunday which is November 8 this year.
The Mayor said: “Local branches are currently carrying out a risk assessment and making plans for Remembrance Sunday based on covid-19 guidelines”.
Councillor Johnston said a further update would be given to councillors in November but in the mean time discussions are continuing with the RBL “to ensure the appropriate civic representation and wreath-laying in line with the risk assessments”.
It is understood that just a wreath-laying service will be taking place in some towns to commemorate those who lost their lives in both World Wars and other conflicts with the number of participants at each war memorial limited to adhere to social distancing.
Bill Dornan, chairman, of Whitehead Royal British Legion and Group Three chairman, said: “We are still allowed to hold a remembrance service but very limited in the number of people we can have due to Covid.
“The important thing is that we never forget. One of the most essential things going forward is that there are generations coming behind us and that they need to remember as well.”
Mid and East Antrim council is expected to be represented at each Act of Remembrance in the borough with a wreath laid at each service.
A Council report said: ‘A number of the RBL have asked for Council guidance in relation to carrying out relevant risk assessments and this support will be provided’.
Meanwhile, the presentation of commemorative silver poppies will be presented to ten World War II veterans in Mid and East Antrim next month.
One veteran’s family will receive the tribute posthumously.
It is hoped that a few socially distanced receptions can be held to facilitate a presentation closest to a veteran’s home, where appropriate, with Her Majesty’s representative Lord Lieutenant David McCorkell, Mayor Johnston and Veterans’ Champion Alderman John Carson in attendance.
It is proposed to record the presentations to be broadcast on the council’s social media platforms in the run-up to Remembrance Sunday.
A presentation planned in May had to be postponed while the vast majority of recipients were shielding and the manufacturer of the council’s bespoke silver poppy suspended production as Northern Ireland went into lockdown.