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Council to write to Cambridge University over Poppy decision

Jane Witherspoon

Reporter:

Jane Witherspoon

DUP Councillor Billy Henry has slammed Cambridge students for disrespecting the remembrance poppy.

Cllr Henry put forward an emotional motion at last week's Council meeting in relation to Cambridge University's Student Union decision to vote down a motion to promote Remembrance Sunday.

When delivering the motion, Cllr Henry said: "It is not a symbol of death or a sign of support for war. It is not a reflection of politics or religion and it is not red to reflect the colour of blood."

The full motion read: "That this Council was disappointed to learn of the decision by Cambridge University's Student Union to vote down a motion to promote Remembrance Sunday and therefore records its objection to this decision to ignore such a significant event in our history."

Cllr Henry continued, saying: "If this is the way our young people have been taught, what hope do we have?

"We as a nation look to our students in the hope that one day they will be our leaders in many walks of life."

He also said: "When the young people of Cambridge University voted overwhelmingly to de-emphasise the sacrifice of the armed forces, thereby striking out any reference to the British war veterans, remembrance day and the poppy they brought untold hurt and suffering to many families who lost loved ones during the wars.

"What a despicable way to show gratitude to many hundreds of thousands who gave their all so as those students and indeed everyone of us can enjoy the freedom of democracy that we have today.

"Our freedoms cost many everything they had.

"It is easy to judge from a distance when you have the luxury of a safe and comfortable democracy."

Cllr Henry requested that the council write to Cambridge University to: "express their disgust and revulsion" at the decision made by the Student's Union.

Speaking to second the motion, DUP Councillor Paul Reid said: "The poppy is an emblem of remembrance used since 1921.

"The poppy is not a political symbol, it is not a religions symbol but a reminder of those who fought for freedom."

TUV Councillor Brian Collins thanked Cllrs Henry and Reid for bringing this matter to the attention of Mid and East Antrim Council.

He said: "This is a very emotive subject.

"To Cambridge University's Student Union, shame on you. Many a young man and women left the university and interrupted their studies to go a serve their nation, and many of them never returned to their studies.

"We have to remember the families. This is just disgraceful.

"The TUV fully support this important motion."

UUP Councillor AP Wilson also supported the motion.

He said: "We share the disappointment with Cambridge University's student union.

Cllr Wilson, however said he didn't think Council should get involved in: "undergraduate student union politics", saying that:" Sometimes there are lots of brains and not necessarily much common sense."

He said that Council should do all they can to make sure remembrance was respectful and not party political.

Alliance Councillor Paul Sinclair was also concerned about getting involved in student politics.

He said: "We should reaffirm our support for Remembrance Sunday."

After a recorded vote, Sinn Fein Councillors Hardy and McKeown voted against the motion while Councillor Paul Maguire, Alliance Councillor Paul Sinclair and SDLP Councillor Declan O'Loan abstained from voting. Every other resent councillor voted for the motion, therefore it was carried.

Speaking afterwards, DUP Councillor Beth Clyde said: "I think it is a disgrace that people won;t support the memory of all that have fallen."

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