Councillors set for Somme/Guillemont trip

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Antrim and Newtownabbey councillors have agreed to send a delegation on a commemorative trip to the Somme later this year.

Councillors agreed at Monday night’s monthly meeting for one representative from each of the political parties sitting on council to go on a trip to the Somme and Guillemont in September.

The purpose of the trip is to commemorate the 16th (Irish) Division’s part in the Battle of the Somme.

The estimated cost of the trip is £620 per person which includes all flights, ferry crossings, accommodation and buffet breakfast.

With six political parties making up the council, the total cost of the trip could be in the region of £3,720.

Proposing that one representative from each party attend, DUP Councillor Philip Brett said he welcomed the opportunity for councillors to attend the event given such an historical year.

Cllr. Brett also highlighted the significant role played by the 16th Irish Division at the Somme.

He added that in keeping with the “cross community nature of the commemorative events”, it would be in keeping for one representative from each party to attend.

His proposal was seconded by UUP Councillor Mark Cosgrove and agreed by council.

TUV Councillor David Hollis - the party’s sole rep on council - said he would not be going on the trip as he had “had enough of war”.

Mayor John Scott, who led a council delegation to France earlier this month for a number of Somme centenary commemoration events, asked if it would be appropriate to also send Deputy Mayor Noreen McClelland on the upcoming trip. However, he was advised by her SDLP colleague Cllr. Roisin Lynch that Cllr. McClelland would in all likelihood be the party’s representative on the trip.