Council ‘requested Union flag’ at castle during Somme Festival

Irish Guards prepare to accompany vocalist Aled Jones as he performs at Carrick waterfront. INCT 27-704-CON
Irish Guards prepare to accompany vocalist Aled Jones as he performs at Carrick waterfront. INCT 27-704-CON

Mid and East Antrim Council has responded to queries over the flying of flags during the Somme Centenary Festival of Remembrance in Carrickfergus last week.

A crowd of almost 4,000 people gathered in the shadow of the castle on Friday night to mark the service and sacrifice of Irish soldiers during the bloody World War One conflict.

The programme began with a military and veterans’ parade, followed by a concert, headlined by acclaimed vocalist Aled Jones.

The event concluded with a drumhead service by the band of the Irish Guards.

However, some local residents took to social media to voice dissatisfaction with the event.

There were suggestions that local Orange lodges and other groups, such as the Carrick branch of the Royal British Legion, should have been involved in the parade.

Others pointed out the lack of flags flying at Carrick Castle.

Responding, a spokesperson for Mid and East Antrim said: “Council requested that Carrickfergus Castle fly the Union flag; however, the Department of Communities has stipulated days in which the flag is flown, so any queries should be directed on to the Department of Communities.

“The flags at the Cenotaph and Town Hall on Friday were the Union and the Ulster flag.

“At the Castle car park area where the event was held, a Somme flag was flown.”

Speaking at Monday night’s meeting of the local government authority, MEA Chief Executive Anne Donaghy indicated that overall feedback for the event had been “largely positive”. She added: “The concert was streamed live online and this was viewed over 67,000 times, including from as far away as France and Canada.

“I would like to thank the steering group who pulled [the event] together.”