Ulster Unionist Councillor Jeff Dudgeon has welcomed the Belfast City Council’s vote to support the establishment of a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives in the Belfast Blitz of 1941. Last night’s proposal, to include the proposed Blitz Memorial as an ‘emerging capital project’, reversed a previous Strategic Policy and Resources Committee decision.
Councillor Dudgeon said:
“I believe that last night’s decision should be welcomed by everyone. As I said last month, this is most emphatically not a unionist proposal. The Nazi bombs did not discriminate between Protestants and Catholics and that is why I am so disappointed that there should be any opposition, even tactical, to a city centre memorial.
“In order to ensure that a memorial can be in place for the 80th anniversary in 2021 – only two years away – it is vital it is included on the City Council’s list of emerging capital projects so that resources can be found within the forward budget.
“Whilst I am pleased that the project has received City Council support, I am nonetheless dismayed that a proposal which should have received unanimous backing, only passed by four votes on a vote of 26 to 22, with Sinn Fein and the SDLP voting against, and Alliance and People before Profit abstaining.
“I have been desperate to avoid this becoming a politically contentious issue which is why although originally proposed nearly four years ago, I did not press the matter to an earlier decision in the hope that it would be resolved in some way.
"If there is one thing that should surely command support of every citizen of Belfast and their elected representatives, it is a memorial to the almost 1,000 people who died, and the 15,000 people who were rendered homeless in the air raids of April and May 1941.
“The project is for Cathedral Gardens not the City Hall grounds and the Northern Ireland War Memorial have offered to donate up to £100,000 for the project. There is no equality or diversity aspect to a Blitz Memorial for obvious reasons. Council staff have the matter in hand and preliminary designs have been drafted in readiness for a substantial memorial that will include the names of both the civilian and service dead.”