Two Somme events...only one wreath!

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Two DUP councillors have questioned Ballymoney Borough Council for only giving them one wreath to place during their recent visit to two Somme events.

Representing the citizens of the borough, Cllr Evelyne Robinson and Cllr Ian Stevenson attended this year’s Somme Annual Pilgrimage which was organised by the Friends of the Somme and funded by Ballymoney Borough Council.

During their visit members attended different services, as in previous years, including laying a wreath at the 16th (Irish) Division Memorial at Guillemont and following the NI Service of Remembrance at the Ulster Memorial Tower.

However speaking at a recent Full Council meeting, Cllr Evelyne Robinson hit out at Council officials for not allowing them two wreaths to be place at the events.

She explained: “Both Cllr Stevenson and I attended three different Somme wreath laying services on July 1.

“However we only had one wreath despite asking for two. Ballymoney was the only Council not to lay a wreath at the Service of Remembrance to the Southern Irish soldiers in Guillemont.

“I feel this was a slight at Ballymoney Borough Council as we had to stand aside while other Council’s placed their wreaths.

“I would like to ask why, when we specifically asked for two wreaths, we were told ‘one would do ya’?”

In response the Mayor, Alderman Bill Kennedy said it was ‘a bit late now’ adding: “When I went I only took one wreath but that was a long time ago. Maybe Council didn’t know there were two

Cllr Ian Stevenson explained that he had asked a member of staff from the Chief Executive’s office for two wreaths on the Monday and then a got call on the Wednesday to say the wreath was ready to pick up.

He continued: “When I explained about asking for another wreath I was told they would try to get a second wreath but it was highly unlikely due to the timeline.”

In response the Head of Corporate and Development Services hit back at Cllr Robinson’s criticism explaining that the ‘wreaths are ordered in advance from the British Legion’ and the second wreath was ‘not possible’ due to the timeline.

She continued: “At no point did anyone say ‘one would do ya’ and I ask for that comment to be withdrawn. Cllr Stevenson was told that the wreaths are pre-ordered from the British Legion and that they would try to get a second wreath ordered in time however this was not possible.”

She also explained that ‘councillors have only ever take one wreath’ in the past.

In response Cllr Anita Cavlan said she was ‘sick of some officers being attacked at virtually every meeting’.

She continued: “I would have retaliated a long time ago. This needs to stop as it’s virtually harassment to an officer. We are here to make decisions but sometimes others have to make decisions for us.”