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Belfast council announces online book of condolence and eight days of mourning for the Duke of Edinburgh

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Belfast council has agreed eight days of mourning for the Duke of Edinburgh, at a special council meeting.

A motion and an online book of condolence was unanimously agreed on Monday evening by all parties.

The motion, by DUP Alderman Brian Kingston, reads: “This council received the news of the death of His Royal Highness the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh with sadness and, on behalf of the city of Belfast, extends its most sincere condolences to Her Majesty the Queen and the Royal family.

“Having served with distinction during World War Two, the Duke supported Her Majesty in undertaking royal duties at home and abroad for over seventy years. It was with the Queen that he last visited the city hall in 2014, attending lunch in the Great Hall and signing the VIP visitor book.

“Founded by His Royal Highness in 1956, the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme has also offered important development opportunities to several generations of our young people in Belfast.

“In recognition of his sustained, distinguished and impactful service, and mindful of the restrictions of this pandemic period, this council with many others expresses its sympathy. Accordingly, the council has opened an online book of condolence. As a further mark of respect, the city will observe eight days of mourning for His Royal Highness.”

At the meeting representatives from the majority of parties offered personal memories of Prince Philip and eulogies.

Lord Mayor Alderman Frank McCoubrey said: “His Royal Highness was a frequent visitor to Northern Ireland, making 56 visits over the years. A fair few of these were to Belfast where he visited many of the city’s defining landmarks, including St George’s Market, the Waterfront Hall, Belfast Activity Centre in Barnett’s Demesne, Harland and Wolff and the RUAS showground when it was located at the King’s Hall.

“It was with the Queen that he last visited City Hall in 2014, attending lunch in The Great Hall to celebrate the “Best of Belfast” and signing the VIP visitor book.”

He added: “I feel honoured to have met the Duke of Edinburgh on several occasions, most notably for me during my year as High Sheriff, when he was the principal guest at the official opening of the new Hilton Hotel in 2009.

“I found him very engaging, with an ability to put people at ease, and very well briefed about people he would meet and places he would visit. Indeed, it was rumoured that he enjoyed the Northern Ireland sense of humour and he was never happier than when in the company of veterans – which he was on several trips to the city.”

SDLP Councillor Donal Lyons said: “It is important in moments like these that we pause, and remember that what is important to our neighbours should be important to ourselves. That we recognise a diversity of views is not a bad thing, and nothing has ever been lost through honest discussions.

“In the last number of years we have been reappraising our shared past and with that the relationships between our traditions and identities. In doing so we saw that expanding the common ground requires us leaving familiar ground, but if we do that with sincerity we can do that we can move forward as a city.

He said the Prince was “at ease with himself and had a charming degree of informality.”

Sinn Fein Councillor Matt Garrett said: “We acknowledge the sense of loss which will be felt within the community, and across these islands, by those of a unionist tradition and British identity, who value and cherish the Royal family.”

He said: “It is acknowledged that the Queen, Prince Philip and their family were directly impacted by the conflict, and regrettably endured sorrow and pain as a result of their personal loss and bereavement.

He added: “Yet having endured such personal loss the Royal family set about advancing peace and reconciliation – we have been witness to these efforts and their example of leadership in recent years.

“As the Queen and Prince Philip did so, we in this chamber, 23 years on from the Good Friday Agreement, must redouble our own efforts for the achievement of reconciliation.”

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