Statement from the Chair of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Councillor Diana Armstrong regarding the National Day of Reflection:

22nd March 2021

Cllr Diana Armstrong 3   thumbnail

“Tuesday 23 March 2021 marks the one year anniversary of the first period of national lockdown, introduced to help curb the spread of the coronavirus, COVID-19.

Today, I am asking the people of the Fermanagh and Omagh District to join me in participating in the first National Day of Reflection as we remember those who have fallen victim to COVID and the families and friends they have left behind.

As part of the National Day of Reflection, there will be a minute’s silence at 12 noon on Tuesday 23 March and I am asking you to join people right across the UK to observe the minute’s silence and shining a light – a candle, torch or lamp – at 8pm to demonstrate your support.

Fermanagh and Omagh District Council is illuminating both Enniskillen Castle and Strule Arts Centre, Omagh yellow on Tuesday, joining other iconic buildings across Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales which are also being lit up in support of the day.

There is no doubt that the past year has challenged us in ways we never considered possible. It has made us re-evaluate our lives, how we do business, how we socialise and has made us realise what is important to us. In many ways, we have had to hit the reset button in our lives. There are also significant challenges ahead but I am confident that we are stronger together to meet those challenges.

While the restrictions imposed at various times over the past year aimed at protecting the most vulnerable, battling the spread of the disease and protecting the NHS have been challenging, I would like to put on record my gratitude to you, the residents of the district, who by following the guidance from the Northern Ireland Executive and Public Health Agency, have ensured that we have done our best to minimise the impact of COVID-19 across the district.

I would also like to place on record my deepest gratitude to our key workers across all sectors who have put themselves and their families at risk to ensure that life went on as normal as possible for everyone else. I would like to thank our emergency services, healthcare workers in hospitals, the community and care homes, our refuse collectors, Registration Service, those working in education, transport and logistics, retail staff and all those in front facing industries who have remained on the front line. We owe them all a huge debt of gratitude.

The community response to COVID-19 across the district has been magnificent. There is a saying which I believe encapsulates the community effort – “We are stronger together than we are alone.” The people of the Fermanagh and Omagh District have shown a real sense of togetherness throughout the ongoing health pandemic and it is this togetherness that will see us through the next number of months and into better days.

The Council too has remained committed to supporting local communities and providing resources for them to respond to the impacts of COVID-19 and to provide information and support to businesses who are facing considerable uncertainty and challenges; while delivering essential services to our residents in line with restrictions and with the minimum of disruption, throughout.

As we make our way through the current restrictions, we will continue to work with our partners to do our best for the district and support our communities and local businesses so we may all look forward to a brighter future.

On this National Day of Reflection we remember the thousands of people who have lost their lives to COVID-19 and those who have been bereaved throughout coronavirus or who have lost loved ones in this period to other illnesses. You have been unable to avail of the usual comfort and community support which a wake and attendance at funerals and interments usually offers at such a sad time. Rest assured that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

The development of vaccines against COVID-19 and the successful rollout of the vaccination programme has been a welcome step forward and has provided a ray of light at the end of a very dark tunnel.  But we are not there yet.

Please continue to follow the guidance from the Northern Ireland Executive and the Public Health Agency and stay safe. Remember hands, face and space. It is by following such guidance that will see us eventually emerge from this most challenging time and look forward to better days ahead.”