Jim Allister MLA will host an event to mark Memorial Day for Victims of Terrorism this Friday at 7pm BUT has said that this year Stormont has refused his request to mark the event by lighting up the building in red like the previous year.
Mr Allister said:
“Every year since the Madrid bombings in 2004 a Memorial Day to the victims of terrorist attacks has been observed. Since 2012 I have hosted an event to mark the day at Parliamentary Buildings. It has been highly successful with a large number of victims attending from across the Province. Due to the growth of the event I have had to move to the evening so Stormont’s largest space, the Great Hall, can be used. It will take place on Friday beginning at 7pm.
“The event will take the form of a minute of silence in memory of murdered victims, followed by some victims telling their stories so that through the media, who are invited, the wider community might hear some of the untold accounts of the consequences of terrorism, both republican and loyalist. This year we will also be joined by a mother and father of one of the victims of the Madrid train line bombings.
“I believe this will be a worthwhile event and in previous years I received very positive feedback from those who attended. It is but right that one of the regions of Europe most savagely ravaged by terrorism should mark this important day.”
Unfortunately it appears that unlike the previous year, Stormont will not be lit up red in support of Memorial Day. Mr Allister went on to speak about his ‘dismay’ saying:
“I am dismayed to learn – just two days before a memorial event will take place – that the Assembly Commission have refused my request to have Stormont lit in red to mark memorial day for innocent victims of terrorism.
“I have been hosting an event at Stormont to mark this significant date since I was first elected to the Assembly. It has become the largest annual event held in the building. Last year two events had to be held – with the second arranged at very short notice because of the surge in demand – to accommodate the numbers attending. In order to avoid an issue this year a decision was taken to postpone the event until the evening thus enabling us to use Stormont’s largest space, the Great Hall. It is already clear that the Great Hall will be filled to capacity on Friday when the event commences at 7pm.
“Last year Stormont was lit up in red in honour of the day but because the event was in the morning all the innocent victims were long gone before the building was lit and therefore denied the opportunity to see the building lit in a way which paid tribute to their loved ones. I had hoped that this year those attending the event for innocent victims – which include a large number of disabled and elderly people – would be able to see the building lit up when they arrived. The Assembly Commission has, however, decreed that this is not to be.
“I find it quite shocking that the Assembly Commission cannot find it within itself to permit such a small but important token of respect for innocent victims. The Commission, which is chaired by the Speaker, but representing all the main parties ought to be ashamed of itself.
“I have written to the Commission asking why a decision on this matter was left until so late in the day and asking them to reconsider.
“I would stress that the event is going ahead on Friday and I have no doubt that, as was the case in other years, it will prove to be worthwhile.”