Six minutes to agree £6K birthday plans

The Queen and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness shake hands in Belfast in 2012.
The Queen and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness shake hands in Belfast in 2012.

It took just six minutes for Causeway Coast and Glens councillors to agree on spending £6,600 on events to mark the Queen Elizabeth’s 90th birthday.

The special meeting on Wednesday was due to start at 6pm, but because there weren’t enough members present to make up a quorum, it was 6.43pm before official business got underway.

Once business started, agreement was reached after six minutes and the meeting was over, which is the shortest meeting of Causeway Council since the four legacy councils converged a year ago.

Among the events to be held is a relay of beacons in each of the four legacy council areas - including Limavady - converging in the lighting of a beacon in Portstewart on April 21st, the 90th birthday of Queen Elizabeth II.

Council officer Liz Johnston said the proposals had come out of a working group made up of councillors from the different parties, and chaired by the mayor.

She said the role of the group was “to investigate how the Council might mark Her Majesty The Queen’s 90th birthday in a fitting way”.

Events also include the creation of a rosebed at the council offices in Cloonavin (QEII Roses) to be planted on April 21 at an estimated cost of £1,600; a relay from each of the four legacy areas converging in Portstewart for the lighting of beacon, in association with local running/cycling clubs at a cost of £1,500; afternoon tea for residents who share a 1926 birthday with the Queen hosted by The Mayor (including entertainment and a gift) to take place in May at a cost of £1,000.

A further £2,500 has been set aside for publicity and general expenses.

Among the handful of councillors to speak on the proposals, was Sinn Fein’s Tony McCaul.

Colr. McCaul said it was “a pity the Council couldn’t be more inclusive when it came to other events”, and he went on to say: “I am a republican, everyone knows my stance, but I know the Royal family is close to the hearts of the unionist community, and I respect that.”

Colr. McCaul referred to members of his party who had met the Queen, had tea with her and shook hands with her.

Colr. McCaul added: “I’m not voting against the recommendation.”

In the neighbouring Derry City & Strabane District Council, Sinn Fein and SDLP councillors agreed at a meeting last month to spend around £600 on beacons to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.

The UK-wide Beacon Lighting Ceremony will mark Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday on April 21, 2016.