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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Council support for “Tattoo style” massed band event at Carrickfergus Castle

Entrance to Carrickfergus Castle, with tulip flowers blooming in front.
Carrickfergus Castle, Co Antrim, (Image: John Fitz Photography)

Mid and East Antrim Borough Council has supported a motion which could see a massed band “Tattoo style” event held at Carrickfergus Castle annually.

The motion was proposed by DUP Councillor Marc Collins, who has returned to the council chamber after an eight-month suspension by a standards watchdog over social media tweets regarding a banner erected in the Shankill area of Belfast.

The Northern Ireland Local Government Commissioner for Standards  sanctioned the Knockagh representative after a complaint against him was upheld.

Speaking at a meeting of the borough council, at The Braid in Ballymena, on Monday evening, Cllr Collins proposed the council commits to holding such an event every year following the “incredible success” of the four Massed Bands of the Irish Regiments concert at the castle in September 2021.

The Massed Bands of the army’s four Irish regiments performed together in Northern Ireland for the first time in 35 years during an event that was attended by 1,500 visitors.

Carrick Castle provided the backdrop to displays by the bands of the Irish Guards and the Royal Irish Regiment, alongside the pipes and drums of the Royal Dragoon Guards and the Queen’s Royal Hussars.

Cllr Collins has asked the council “reaffirms its commitment to the British Armed Forces and recognises the benefits such events bring to the local area”.

“Our British military personnel are among the best  in the world and their musicians are no different. The musicians in the bands of the Irish Guards and Irish Regiments, for example, being the absolute pinnacle of musical talent,” he said.

“Carrickfergus being a bastion town has a long and a proud military history with Carrickfergus Castle being central to this. We are proud to recognise and celebrate the incredible commitment and sacrifice that our serving military personnel and our veterans have made and continue to make. We don’t want to shy away from that. We want to put it centre stage.

“The demand is there. As a council and a borough, we have a chance to capitalise on that demand and put on an annual  event that celebrates our unique military history and heritage.”

The motion was seconded by party colleague Cllr Peter Johnston, also a Knockagh representative, who said he was proud to be an elected member of a body that “strongly supports and values our (MOD) Ministry of Defence” adding that this is testament to events including the massed bands event in 2021.

“The event attracted many high-ranking officials to our home town including the Chief of Staff and showcased the best of our military bands. These bands are not only testament to the rich cultural heritage of the region but they also play an important role in promoting unity and cohesion and the sell-out concert brought men, women and children of all ages together to enjoy the music and procession.

“The positive impact  of military bands in Northern Ireland cannot be overstated. They promote a sense of pride and belonging among citizens instilling a sense of national identity and unity.

“Over the past few years, our council has learnt that events deliver the best bang for our buck in terms of community cohesion, positive PR and added value.”

Coast Road Sinn Fein Cllr James McKeown said he was against the motion.

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Alderman Noel Williams, said in view of the council’s support, he would ask officers to take the proposal forward with equality screening and financial assessment and ask it is brought back to the next meeting of the local authority for a final decision.


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