Bid for Belfast to host Armed Forces Day 2022 slammed by Sinn Féin

Bid for Belfast to host Armed Forces Day 2022 slammed by Sinn Féin

A bid to bring Armed Forces Day to Belfast has been slammed by Sinn Féin (Corporal Ben Beale/British Army/PA)

A bid to bring Armed Forces Day to Belfast has been condemned by Sinn Féin.

The last Armed Forces Day in Northern Ireland took place in Lisburn, Co Antrim, in June 2019, and was attended by thousands.

It included a parade through the streets of the city to Wallace Park, a drumhead service and a flypast by the Red Arrows.

DUP councillor Dale Pankhurst and PUP councillor Billy Hutchinson made a proposal to Belfast City Council earlier this month for the region’s capital city to make a bid to host the event in 2022.

The matter was discussed at the meeting of the council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on Friday.

Sinn Féin councillor Ciaran Beattie said the majority at the meeting were against the proposal.

He has argued Belfast city centre should be a “neutral space”.

“The hosting of this event is of no benefit to our city, it will compound the hurt of victims of British armed forces and cause division amongst citizens of Belfast,” he said.

“The role of the British army in Belfast and across Ireland is not one of glory, but one of brutality and oppression.

“Belfast City Centre is a neutral space – all sections of our community enjoy the shops, hospitality and entertainment on offer.

“The hosting of Armed Forces Day would undoubtedly politicise a neutral space.

“There is an obligation on all political representatives to act responsibly and to place their focus into peace building and reconciliation.”

Carrickfergus, Co Antrim, is due to host Armed Forces Day in 2021.

The 2020 event, which had been due to take place in Banbridge, Co Down, was unable to take place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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