Taoiseach in Remembrance Service first
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said he was honoured to lay a wreath at a Remembrance Day ceremony in Enniskillen on the 25th anniversary of the Poppy Day bomb.
Sunday, 11 November 2012
Mr Kenny took part in the commemorations in the Co Fermanagh town on Sunday, while Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore was part of a service at Belfast City Hall.
It is the first time the Irish Prime Minister and his deputy have taken part in a Remembrance Day service in Northern Ireland.
Mr Kenny arrived in the Co Fermanagh town shortly after 10am on Sunday and laid a laurel wreath at the cenotaph, where several hundred people had gathered, including survivors and relatives of those killed in the Poppy Day bomb in 1987.
Afterwards he met privately with the families of those bereaved when a no warning IRA bomb exploded in Enniskillen as people gathered at the war memorial.for the traditional remembrance service. No one has ever been convicted of their murders.
"This is a historic day both in reality and symbolically," said the Taoiseach.
"The visit of Her Majesty to Ireland last year - the first of a reigning monarch in 100 years - closed a circle of history and set in place the platform upon which future much closer relations between the peoples north south and the people of our two islands can actually happen."
I thought it was a privilege and an honour to [...] lay a wreath on behalf of the Irish government in respect of what happened here but also to attend at the Cathedral [...] and to meet members of the families who lost loved ones and direct family members 25 years ago in Enniskillen.
Meanwhile Eamon Gilmore, who is also the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, laid a wreath at the Belfast City Hall cenotaph.
"There probably isn't a family or community or parish in Ireland that has not been touched by the losses and suffering of the great wars. I'm here to remember, on behalf of the Irish government, the lives that were lost, the suffering that was endured, the families that were touched," he said.
Mr Gilmore added the Irish government now has a "standing invitation" from Belfast City Council to take part in the Remembrance Day event.
"So I expect that this will be a normal part of our calendar every year to join with the people in Belfast in commemorating the loss and suffering of the wars."
The ceremony in remembrance of those killed in the First and Second World Wars and subsequent conflicts was led by Lord Mayor of Belfast Gavin Robinson, who welcomed the participation of the Irish government minister.
"It was great to have the invitation taken up by the Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, who was here for the first time after accepting an invitation and we are glad that there's a maturity in recognising a shared sacrifice that we collectively have," he said.
Secretary of State Theresa Villiers also attended the service in Belfast city centre, during which more than 60 wreaths were laid on behalf of the Queen, the people of Belfast, the serving armed forces and a wide range of ex-services organisations.
I think the presence of the Tanaiste here today is really positive, particularly as we've embarked on this decade of sensitive commemorations and centenaries that mean very different things to different parts of the communities.
Ms Villiers said the presence of the Taoiseach and Tanaiste in Northern Ireland is an encouraging sign.
"I think it demonstrates the warmth of the relationship between north and south in the island of Ireland and also it's a further reflection of our shared history," she said.
DUP MP Nigel Dodds laid a wreath at the Cenotaph memorial in London, where wreaths were also laid by the Queen, Prime Minister David Cameron, Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, opposition leader Ed Miliband and high commissioners from Commonwealth countries and leaders of the Armed Forces.
Across the UK two minutes' silence was observed at 11am as fallen members of the armed forces were remembered.
The services will have been especially poignant for the families of Corporal Channing Day, a Co Down medic killed in Afghanistan, and prison officer David Black, who was ambushed by gunmen as he travelled to work on the M1. Both were laid to rest earlier this month.