The Committee considered the following report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report or Summary of Main Issues
1.1 To advise Members of proposals to mark this year’s Remembrance Sunday observance and Armistice Day at Belfast City Hall, in light of public health considerations.
2.1 The Committee is requested to:
a) agree to the revised arrangements for Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day taking into account the need to comply with public health and social distancing guidelines and;
b) grant authority to inform the VIPs and Associations of the Committee’s decision with immediate effect bearing in mind the timescale required to make the necessary arrangements.
3.0 Main Report
3.1 Members will be aware that the annual Remembrance Sunday ceremony is a significant event in the civic calendar affording an opportunity for Members, VIPs, Associations and members of the public to commemorate the fallen of two world wars in the Garden of Remembrance.
3.2 Members will also be aware that, in association with the Royal British Legion, the ceremony normally invites over 20 VIPs and over 40 Associations to participate in the service as well as drawing a large public audience in Donegall Square West and City Hall Grounds.
3.3 Following consultation with the Royal British Legion and other key stakeholders, it is recognised that the observance should be carried out in a dignified and appropriate manner in keeping with the solemnity of the occasion and in accordance with the prevailing public health regulations. This is consistent with guidance the Legion has communicated to its members with a strong message that Remembrance Sunday should be conducted in such a manner as to ‘remember our fallen while protecting our communities’.
3.4 As such, the following proposals are suggested for the conduct of Remembrance Sunday on the 8 November, 2020.
1. Her Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the County Borough of Belfast, Fionnuala J O’Boyle CBE, will enter the Garden of Remembrance to lay a wreath.
2. Following her departure, the Lord Mayor will lay a wreath on behalf of the city with a chaplain and bugler participating in a short ceremony. At no stage will there be more than 15 people in the Garden of Remembrance at any one time, in line with current public health restrictions. Attendance by Members of Council wishing to be present, will be configured on a proportionality basis, so that the total number of people at the ceremony does not exceed the permitted number.
3. VIP attendees will be offered the opportunity to attend, and lay wreaths on an individual basis, following the initial ceremony, between 11.45 am and 12.45 pm.
4. Associations will also be afforded the opportunity to attend and lay individual wreaths in four separate time slots between 1.15 pm and 3.30 pm. Participation will be limited to 1 individual per association to take account of the higher number of wreath-layers participating in Remembrance Sunday.
Members will recall that a similar system was introduced to mark the Somme Anniversary on 1 July which was well received by all those who took part.
3.5 In agreeing to participate, all attendees will observe guidelines set out by Council. Each act of remembrance will be carried out within social distancing guidelines, individuals will remain 2m apart at all times and Lord Mayor’s Office and City Hall security will be on hand to greet attendees, oversee participation and ensure compliance with the council plan.
3.6 In light of the circumstances prevailing at this time, it will not be possible for the general public to attend to observe either of these ceremonies. It is important that Council is seen to take the lead and demonstrate civic leadership in observing an appropriate act of remembrance while endeavouring to dissuade a public gathering and Council will liaise closely with the Royal British Legion in communicating this shared message in engagement with local associations and the general public.
In addition, the Lord Mayor will record a video message prior to Remembrance Sunday to be utilized across a variety of platforms.
3.7 It is proposed that arrangements for Armistice Day, which will be observed on Wednesday, 11th November at 11 am, should be broadly similar to those outlined above to mark Remembrance Sunday, in terms of attendance by Members of Council.
3.8 The proposals as outlined for Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day will be revised in line with any further public health restrictions should they be introduced prior to these dates.
3.9 Financial and Resource Implications
3.10 Equality or Good Relations Implications/Rural Needs Assessment
The Committee adopted the recommendations.