CRAIGAVON’S two swimming pools - at Lurgan and Portadown - were to remain closed on Sundays in February 1974, even though for Northern Ireland’s 16 other council-controlled pools it was business as usual.
The decision was taken by Craigavon Borough Council after the majority of councillors expressed strong disapproval of Sunday opening hours on religious grounds.
And some councillors indicated that the “never on a Sunday” issue concerning recreation in Craigavon was to take a step further when it was proposed to discuss the seventh-day closing of golf courses, football pitches, Gaelic fields, swings and other such amenities in the new city area.
Councillors looked upon such Sunday openings as a “further desecration of the Lord’s Day.” Some members felt that the council should give the province a lead in “putting God first,” while others read quotations from the Bible.
DUP members referred to their election manifestos in which they stated that they would take a “Sabbath Stand”.
When the issue was put to the meeting, 15 councillors voted against Sunday opening and eight voted for.
Cllr David Calvert remarked that the swimming pool issue was only a “small item in the whole recreation question” concerning Sunday opening.
Alderman Jim Baird quipped: “Are we allowed to breath on Sundays?”
Deputy Mayor Jim McCammick said: “I hold very strong views on this subject and I look at the issue as a further desecration of the Lord’s Day. When you desecrate the Lord’s Day it is the nation that suffers.
“Here we are at the commencement of building a new city and we are going adrift. Are we going to give people a licence to further desecrate the Lord’s Day? If so, how are you going to glorify the Lord?
“Let us give this province a lead again and put God first in our lives.”