A row has erupted after it was claimed that Ballymoney firefighters were refused permission by their headquarters to participate in the town’s World War 1 commemoration parade recently.
Local councillors in Ballymoney from various parties were contacted by constituents complaining because local members of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) did not take part in the parade which was the culmination of a weekend of events to mark the outbreak of WW1 at the beginnig of August.
The NIFRS issued a statement saying that: “Firefighters off duty were welcome to participate in local commemorative events (including parades) in uniform voluntarily. Firefighters on duty would be working at the local commemorative events engaging with the local community on fire safety.”
However, local sources have told the Times that Ballymoney firefighters claim they were informed that under no circumstances were they permitted to participate in the parade. They claimed that no distinction was made between crew being on or off duty.
A fire engine had been present at the Showgrounds during the events organised by Ballymoney and District Cultural and Heritage Society.
The full statement from NIFRS said: ““Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service fully supported the World War One Centenary Commemorations on Monday 4 August 2014.
“Senior Officers and the Chairman of the Board, on behalf of the whole organisation, attended the regional commemorative events held at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast and at Belfast City Hall.
“Fire Stations right across Northern Ireland were welcome to participate in local commemorative events and some requested permission to do so.
“In line with other emergency service colleagues, Firefighters were working at the local commemorative events, engaging with the local community on fire safety and not forming part of the parades.
“Firefighters not working and off duty were also welcome to participate in the local commemorative events in uniform should they wish.
“Ballymoney Fire Station, in line with other emergency service colleagues, were working at the commemorative event in Ballymoney, setting up a stand at the Showground and taking the opportunity to engage with the local community on home fire safety.”