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Carrickfergus named as venue for Armed Forces Day 2021

Liam McBurney

By Rebecca Black, PA

Carrickfergus has been named as the venue for Armed Forces Day 2021 in Northern Ireland.

The announcement comes after the 2020 event, which had been planned to take place in Banbridge, Co Down, in June, had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Mid and East Antrim Council previously hosted Armed Forces Day in 2015.

Mayor Peter Johnston, described it as a “prestigious honour” for the borough.

“We look forward to planning for next year’s celebrations,” he said.

“We are, of course, mindful that any event is subject to the coronavirus pandemic and the various restrictions set down by the Northern Ireland Executive, and will adhere to those at all times.”

The announcement was marked on Wednesday with the visit of Royal Navy war ships to the Co Antrim town.

HMS Biter, HMS Charger and HMS Express have been in Northern Ireland’s waters this week as part of a training deployment.

Council Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy, added: “The Royal Navy recently choose Carrickfergus to be one of a small number of harbours to welcome the summer deployment of the Royal Navy’s P2000 vessels this week, and we are delighted that members of the public were able to take in this fascinating display along our shoreline.

“We are certainly living through very difficult and uncertain times due to the

coronavirus pandemic, but we are keen to work alongside the Ministry of Defence and Northern Ireland Reserved Forces and Cadet Association, to ensure that we can deliver an event of this scale safely and in accordance with the public health guidelines set down by the Northern Ireland Executive.”

Commander John Patterson, senior naval officer for Northern Ireland, described the event as an opportunity to celebrate the armed forces.

“I would like to thank Mid and East Antrim Council who have graciously agreed to host the event, which will take place in Carrickfergus on June 19, 2021,” he told the PA news agency.

“I would like to invite all members of the public to come down to help celebrate the armed forces, the Royal Navy, the Army and the Royal Air Force, both regular and reserve personnel as well as our veterans community.”

The last Armed Forces Day in Northern Ireland took place in Lisburn, Co Antrim in June 2019, attended by thousands.

It included a parade through the streets of the city to Wallace Park, a drumhead service and a flypast by the Red Arrows.

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