Belfast Telegraph

Queen's poppy wreaths back on university war memorial after complaint by student

By Victoria Leonard

A Queen's student has accused the university of insulting the fallen after it removed Remembrance wreaths from its war memorial.

The tributes were taken within hours of the service last Sunday.

Alastair McCracken said he was left "hurt and disappointed" after he visited the memorial in front of the Lanyon Building to pay his respects on Tuesday, but there were no wreaths.

They are traditionally on display during daylight from Monday to Friday following Remembrance Sunday.

After complaining, the 23-year-old social work student, who is a member of the university's Orange Society, said he received an apology.

"I was unable to attend the Remembrance Sunday wreath-laying service as I was in Switzerland for the Northern Ireland match, but I went to pay my respects on Tuesday," he told the Belfast Telegraph.

"I was so disappointed and hurt to find that none of the wreaths were present; usually there are about 15 set out representing the university's societies, and the vice-chancellor would lay a wreath as well.

"It is as if the university was just paying lip service to the act of remembrance by having the service and then shutting the wreaths away at the earliest opportunity.

"It is not just an insult to those who made the ultimate sacrifice and are being remembered, it is hurtful for veterans coming to the Cenotaph and for the families and friends of current and former armed forces personnel.

"Also, a lot of people made the effort to go and get wreaths made. Many students and staff from Queen's enlisted in the war effort, and their names are inscribed on that memorial.

"There are also students who are in the Officer Training Corps and they may have friends serving in the forces.

"When the wreaths still weren't there on Thursday morning I contacted the university's director of estates by email.

"He apologised in a reply and said they had been taken in at night-time on Sunday evening after the service to prevent vandalism.

"Usually they are brought back out the next morning and left out during the day for the rest of the week, but he said this hadn't happened due to an oversight."

The student said the wreaths were back by lunchtime on Thursday, but claimed they were left out in a "haphazard" manner.

"Some were upside down, there was no effort made to line them up, and only half were tied to the memorial to secure them," he said. "There was very little effort made. It was as if it was done to satisfy the complaint, but it wasn't done very thoughtfully, it was very lackadaisical.

"However, when the wreaths were put out again on Friday they were all put out and tied up in neat fashion, so I'm glad that was rectified."

The university said: "Queen's University holds an annual Remembrance Sunday ceremony when representatives from across the university lay wreaths at the war memorial.

"This includes the vice-chancellor, members of senate and representatives from student clubs and societies.

"This ceremony demonstrates our continued commitment to remembering the war dead."

Belfast Telegraph

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