‘Coleraine is the Queen’s second home’

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VETERAN Coleraine DUP man James McClure believes his plan to install a specially commissioned stained glass window in the Town Hall commemorating The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee is a fitting tribute given the town’s association with the monarch.

Alderman McClure, one of the longest serving local Councillors in Northern Ireland, successfully proposed the motion recently to Coleraine Borough Council.

He said: “Her Majesty has strong links with the Borough of Coleraine. She has visited the town on three occasions.

“I believe that given the Royal Family’s strong links with the area, it is fitting that we celebrate the 60th anniversary of her succession to the Throne by commissioning a window which will mark the occasion in a manner befitting her years of loyal service and devotion to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

In 1953 the Queen stopped in Coleraine as she travelled by train to Lisnahally outside Londonderry.

Alderman McClure, who received an MBE from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace in 2005 in recognition of his long service to Local Government, reminded Council colleagues that he is now the only serving councillor who was present when the Queen returned to the town in 1977. “The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh visited the New University of Ulster as it was known then as part of her Silver Jubilee tour of the United Kingdom. They met many local people, young and old and the world shared the visit with us as it was beamed live across the globe.

“I remember well how excited people were about the occasion and wonderful spectacle of the Royal Yacht Britannia anchored off Portrush, attracting many visitors and well wishers.”

The Royal couple also attended a Garden Party at the University of Ulster in 2007, hosted by the then Secretary of State, Peter Hain, to celebrate ‘The Community and the Voluntary Sector’.

Alderman McClure, who has been a civic representative for 43 years, added: “Down the years Coleraine has received several visits from other members of the Royal family.

Prince Andrew officially opened Coleraine Borough Council’s new civic offices at Cloonavin in 2001 and Princess Anne visited the Blind Centre in Abbey Street.

Prince Charles also came to Coleraine in September 2004 to tour the new Police Service of Northern Ireland Station, the first District Command Headquarters to be constructed in line with recommendations detailed in the Patten Report.

Alderman McClure added: “The window will be a focal point in the Town Hall which we, as a Council, should be encouraging citizens of the Borough and visitors to visit and enjoy.

“After all, the Town Hall is a civic amenity open to all and we should be exploring ways of enhancing its appeal, adding to its historic significance and integrating it firmly into community life.”