Mayor of Limavady, Sinn Fein councillor Sean McGlinchey will invite the local branch of the Royal British Legion for a reception “in recognition of the work they do”.
Mayor McGlinchey revealed the move at Tuesday’s council meeting after debate on a motion by DUP Colr. James McCorkell which called on Council to note the “excellent work” and “dedication” of Legion members in their 90th anniversary year. The motion asked that Council resolved to request the chief executive to write to the Legion, Limavady branch, to express council’s support for their ongoing work; encourage residents throughout the borough to support the Poppy Appeal 2011 and encourage residents to observe two minutes of silence for all victims of conflicts across the world at 11am on November 11, 2011.
The motion passed with support from all six unionists and three SDLP members. The six Sinn Fein members abstained.
Speaking on the debate, Colr. McCorkell gave a detailed description of the Legion’s history, its welfare and charitable work. He spoke about the Poppy Appeal and the goal this year to raise £90 million.
“Whether or not you agree with war and whether or not you support the Armed Forces, I would appeal to members to support this motion,” he said. The motion, he said, was about “those who selflessly bring about healing and comfort to those who have been caught up in war and conflict” and “in supporting this motion we are encouraging them to keep going for another 90 years”.
SDLP Colr. Michael Coyle said he looked forward to the day when there was no need for the Legion; that he was opposed to wars but recognized the work of the legion. He said the SDLP as a party had participated in Remembrance day events.
“It is very emotive,” he said, adding: “I do recognize people have given their lives to the free world as we know it.”
Sinn Fein Colr. Anne Brolly said she had personally benefited from the generosity of the British Legion and had great regard for their work, explaining her father had fought in World War 11.
“Their welfare work is legendary,” she said. “but I think we have to disassociate war with what they do.”
She said she had no problem supporting the main motion but had problems with the three appendices. She said the fact members supported the motion would be in the press and that it was not within Council’s remit “to tell people what emblems to wear” or causes to support.
UU Colr. Edwin Stevenson said they must look at the Legion as a welfare charitable organization and said he was glad to see some cross community support for it.
SDLP Colr. Gerry Mullan spoke of his sobering visits to Flanders but said more work was needed by the Legion to embrace the nationalist community and not just let it be a British Institution.
Mayor McGlinchey said the main thrust of the motion had full support of council but said Sinn Fein members had problems with the appendices Colr. Brolly asked Colr. McCorkell to remove them. However, he said the motion was not telling anyone to buy poppies and preferred the appendices to stay.