I will continue my campaign to get Belfast City Council support for a permanent memorial to those who lost their lives in the Belfast Blitz of 1941, after a council committee rejected the plan.
I am extremely disappointed that the Strategic Policy and Resources committee yesterday voted 8 to 7 against the proposal from the Ulster Unionist Group Leader on Council, Alderman Davy Browne, that a blitz memorial be added to the council’s emerging capital projects for the coming financial year.
This followed my motion to council just over a week ago, which was seconded by Alderman Pat Convery.
I believe there will be genuine shock and anger that this issue should have been rejected. This was 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 to this proposal.
There were two major Luftwaffe raids over the city in April and May 1941 in which almost 1,000 people died, some 15,000 people were rendered homeless and large swathes of the city centre, particularly around High Street and Donegall Street were destroyed.
I believe that Cathedral Gardens would be an ideal site for a permanent central memorial as the 80th anniversary looms. The Northern Ireland War Memorial has offered £100,000 and the required council contribution might not be half that.
It is totally wrong for Sinn Fein in particular to seek to tie this issue to memorials in the City Hall grounds. Surely councillors and parties can find the generosity of spirit to vote to allow this Blitz Memorial to proceed alone?
I will try to reverse the vote at the next City Council meeting on January 7th and will do all I can to ensure that this project proceeds.
Jeff Dudgeon, Ulster Unionist Councillor, Belfast