National Anthem Complaints not played at Newtownards Jubilee Beacon –

Ards and North Down Council received complaints that it was unable to play the national anthem at some of its Queen’s anniversary events.

UP Alderman Stephen McIlvin has asked council chief executive Stephen Reid to clarify the council’s position on his anniversary celebrations.

This issue was raised at this meeting of the council’s corporate services committee.

Mr McIlvin told the House he heard “quite a few complaints” that the national anthem was not played at the Newtownards anniversary lighthouse event, which is funded and hosted by the local government.

He said: “It’s a bit odd considering obviously it’s a tribute to the queen and the national anthem wasn’t actually played at the event. I have a special reason why this is so.

Mr. Reid said: “To clarify, I received some of this feedback, as did some of the participants. Yes, it’s not part of the program. We are following the outline of the Pageant Masters program that was given to all places where there were lighthouses.

“Their assumption is that the event ended after the lighting of the beacons, the playing of the Commonwealth anthem. The choirs sang it at the finish line.”

Mr. McIlvin: “I appreciate this guidance, but as the CEO knows, the crowd that evening was a little disappointed.”

The CEO said, “We apologize for any disappointment.”

The apology was issued during discussion of a proposal passed by the council, including a request to Stormont about the lack of funding for the anniversary from the executive branch to help communities celebrate. The letter also contains a request to the executive branch to allocate funds to the councils for the anniversary.

Treasury Department’s Conor Murphy’s response to the council stated: “The executive has not received any funding in connection with the jubilee. It is my understanding that the Department of Culture, Media and Sports has been appointed to coordinate the celebrations and has received funding for this purpose.”

Independent Unionist Wesley Irwin told the committee: “I just want to point out my disappointment that the central government, especially the executive branch in Northern Ireland, has not done much to help organize the jubilee.

“This local government has spearheaded and definitely hosts great events, light events, Sea Bangor events and a royal visit to Bangor, absolutely fantastic. This event in Bangor attracted huge crowds over the course of two days, I think 50,000 people.”

Mr McIlvin added: “I know the Department of Education has provided funding to the schools and I know my children’s school had a fantastic anniversary picnic. There are materials provided, there is a school competition and books that are provided and distributed.

“While there is no direct funding from the executive branch, I am very grateful that some departments have stepped up to help celebrate the anniversary with dignity.”