Red Ensign raised to mark Merchant Navy Day

Mayor Cllr Paul Reid raises the Red Ensign alongside Anthony Van Damme, Larne Port Harbour Master and Liam Kelly, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Antrim.
Mayor Cllr Paul Reid raises the Red Ensign alongside Anthony Van Damme, Larne Port Harbour Master and Liam Kelly, Deputy Lord Lieutenant of Antrim.

The Red Ensign flag was raised by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Port of Larne and P&O Ferries on Friday ahead of Merchant Navy Day.

Merchant Navy Day falls on Sunday and will raise awareness of the UK’s ongoing dependence on Merchant Navy seafarers.

Deputy Lord Lieutenant of County Antrim, Liam Kelly, Larne Port Harbour Master Antony Van Damme and Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Councillor Paul Reid were joined by invited guests and members of the public in a short ceremony at Larne Port.

The flag was also flown at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s four main offices in Ballymena, Larne and Carrickfergus.

This was to support a nationwide call from the Seafarers UK charity and the Merchant Navy Association for the UK Merchant Navy’s official flag to be flown on public buildings and landmark flagpoles.

Councillor Paul Reid, Mayor of Mid and East Antrim Borough said: “As a Borough steeped in maritime history and home to one of Northern Ireland’s biggest ports, we have always depended on merchant seafarers to defend our shores and import vital food and fuel.

“We’re pleased to be supporting the ‘Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day’ in honour of the merchant seafarers who have made the ultimate sacrifice throughout our history.”

In the First and Second World Wars, approximately 15,000 merchant seafarers were killed.

Larne Harbour Master Anthony Van Damme added: “We are delighted to be supporting the Fly the Red Ensign for Merchant Navy Day again this year.

“The day gives us an opportunity to not only remember seafarers of the past, but to also look to the future. Larne Harbour continues to be a welcoming place for seafarers and supports their welfare whilst carrying out this vital work.”

The UK relies on Merchant Navy seafarers for 95 per cent of imports, including half our food. The UK has the largest ports industry in Europe. 75 per cent of our exports (by volume) are shipped from UK ports.

Seafarers UK is a charity that helps people in the maritime community by providing vital funding to support seafarers in need and their families. www.merchantnavyfund.org/merchant-navy-day