Members of Mid and East Antrim’s policy and resources committee have voted to retain the ceremonial robes of the three predecessor councils.
A council report stated that keeping the robes of predecessor councils benefits corporate identity as well as retaining the historical and cultural practises of the predecessor boroughs.
In total, the three legacy councils possess three mayor’s robes, 14 Aldermen’s robes, 41 councillor’s robes, three Chief Executive’s robes and three mace or sword bearers’ robes.
They also possess three Mayor’s hats, 12 aldermen’s hats, and 37 councillors’ hats. Larne Borough Council also has two mace or sword-bearer’s hats, while each of the three councils’ Chief Executives has a wig. Larne’s robes date from 1951, while Carrick’s date from 1935 and Ballymena’s from 1960.
The red Ballymena Mayor’s robe has a “white ermine collar” while the mayor’s hat bears “gold braid.” The Carrickfergus Mayor’s collar is also made of white ermine, while the Larne Mayor’s robe collar consists of brown ermine.
Robes were inspected by Policy and Resources committee members on February 2 and 3 to gauge their condition and suitability for future use.
The report notes that the cost of replacement robes would be “considerable” and that there are not enough robes of one colour or style to provide “a full identical suite for members.”
It adds: “Alternatively, where Members use existing robes as per their District Electoral Area sufficient robes would be available without the need to purchase additional items. “
The report adds that reusing existing robes would provide a visual representation of MEA’s history and identity, and that a “unifying” MEA badge could be added to them once the new supercouncil’s coat of arms is developed.
Members voted in favour of the new Mayor of Mid and East Antrim selecting an existing Mayor’s robe for use while the remaining two robes are held as spares.
Aldermen and Councillors will use robes associated with the predecessor Councillor of their District Electorial Area for civic and ceremonial occasions.
Meanwhile, the MEA Chief Executive will use one of the existing Town Clerk and Chief Executive’s robes for civic and ceremonial occasions.
In addition, one of the two mace bearer’s robes from Carrickfergus and Larne will be used for prestigious civic occasions. The remaining mace bearer’s robe will be used on ceremonial occasions when the ceremonial sword is on display. Existing hats will be reused.