VJ Day event welcomed by DUP and SF

Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council’s event to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VJ Day has been welcomed by both the DUP and Sinn Fein.

Council has confirmed a shared history event to mark the occasion  will take place this Saturday, August 15.

Many local people were held as Japanese prisoners of war and the stories of their experience still haunt the families to this day.

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The event will include a lecture from renowned historian Dr Eamon Phoenix, poetry reading by local historian Richard Edgar and a musical accompaniment from piper Ian Burrows.

Speaking about the event, Council’s Lord Mayor, Councillor Kevin Savage said: “Shared history events are important for a divided society.

“We hope that by embracing social media and digital technology we can attract wider audiences comprised of people who – for various reasons – might not normally attend such an event in person.

“With COVID-19 still very much a concern at the moment, we are hoping to run more online events like these to ensure we’re minimising the risk to our residents while still offering the excellent events we’re known for, albeit in a slightly different way.”

DUP group whip Councillor Darryn Causby said it was important for Council to mark the occasion, widely regarded as the end of the second World War.

“It is important for Council to mark this occasion,” he said.

“We are obviously disappointed that it could not be marked in a more substantial way than what we are doing.

“However, we welcome the fact all parties recognise the vital role the British Army played during the second World War and we welcome that across the piece.”

Speaking about ABC Council’s shared history event Sinn Fein group leader, Councillor Liam Mackle said: “Many local people lost their lives in this conflict.

“The Lord Mayor will pay special tribute to local man Jim Haughey. Jim fought against fascism in the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War and was later killed in 1943.

“Council officers deserve special praise for organising this event which was inclusive and contributed to our shared understanding of history.”

Initially proposed by DUP group leader, Councillor Mark Baxter during the course of July’s full council meeting, the idea to hold a socially distanced event compliant with COVID regulations was put to a vote following a fiery debate.

In total, 25 members voted for the proposal with the DUP, UUP, Alliance Party and Independent Councillor Paul Berry in support of the proposal.

The five SDLP members present abstained and the nine Sinn Fein members present voted against the proposal.

The event will be broadcast on Council’s facebook page from 11-11.30am on Saturday, August 15. To watch it please visit facebook.com/armaghbanbridgecraigavon