Belfast Telegraph

Ferry disaster service boost

Dean says Belfast can host ceremony

By Victoria O'Hara

Hopes of organising a commemoration to mark the 60th anniversary of the Princess Victoria tragedy in St Anne’s Cathedral have been raised after the Dean of Belfast said he would “welcome” hosting a service.

Rev John Mann said while it would be too late to arrange a remembrance ceremony for January 31 — the day of the anniversary — it would be possible to host it later this year.

Every woman and child on board died when the car ferry sank off the Co Down coast and the total death toll was 133, the greatest number to perish in UK waters during peacetime.

Only 44 survived — all men — out of 177 people.

Annual commemorations are held in Donaghadee and Larne, and memorials also stand in both towns, as well as in Stranraer.

But it has been suggested a service held at St Anne’s Cathedral in Belfast would be a fitting way to remember the tragedy.

Rev Mann made the comments after reading a Belfast Telegraph article where councillors and relatives of survivors backed the move. He said he wanted to let “all interested parties” know there is opportunity to organise a ceremony.

“I would be glad to talk to them about it,” he said.

Ann Moore, from Larne, whose father Jim Blair was a steward on the ill-fated vessel, welcomed the suggestion, saying she believed a memorial ceremoney in Belfast would give “added respect” to the victims six decades on.

Background

The Princess Victoria car ferry sank in the North Channel on January 31, 1953. Deputy Prime Minister of Northern Ireland Major JM Sinclair was among the 133 victims.

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