‘Christmas lights should not be on before Remembrance Sunday’

Cllr Timothy Gaston.
Cllr Timothy Gaston.

A local councillor is set to boycott the official switch on of the Christmas lights in Ballymena tonight.

Cllr Timothy Gaston will not be attending the annual Christmas lights switch on as he believes the event should be held after Remembrance Day.

The TUV representative has been campaigning over recent weeks to have the switch on rescheduled until after this weekend’s commemorative events have been held.

Speaking to the Times, Cllr Gaston said: “The lights are set to be switched on tonight, before being turned off again at midnight. They will be turned on again on Monday afternoon.

“I won’t be at the event tonight as I feel it’s disrespectful and inappropriate to start the town’s Christmas festivities before we pay our respects for the bravery shown by so many.

“The Tower Centre will be turning on their Christmas lights on Thursday, November 17. I feel the rest of the town should have followed this example and waited until after Remembrance Sunday.”

Mr Gaston proposed a motion to have the date of the official switch on pushed back until after this weekend.

At the November meeting of Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, Cllr Gaston’s proposal was defeated, with only six other elected representatives voting in support.

The motion was seconded by Cllr Donna Anderson and supported by her UKIP party colleague, Cllr Noel Jordan, TUV representatives Cllr Ruth Wilson and Cllr Stewart McDonald, Cllr James Brown MBE and Cllr Billy Henry.

Cllr Gaston added: “Well done Cllr Billy Henry for breaking ranks with his DUP colleagues to vote with his conscience and do what he felt was right.”

The annual switch on of Ballymena’s Christmas lights, accompanied by festive children’s entertainment including face painters, balloon modelling, walkabout characters and live music, will take place at The Braid Arts Centre, from 6:30pm.