Belfast Telegraph

City ceremony marks 9/11 atrocity

Belfast was said to be tied to New York by a "spirit of unity" as it marked the 9/11 attacks on the US.

Mayor Niall O Donnghaile was joined in the grounds of Belfast City Hall by US Consul General Kamala Lakhdhir and other dignitaries. The crowds who gathered around them for the remembrance ceremony included families who lost loved ones in the Twin Towers attack.

The event marked the 10th anniversary of the atrocity and observed a minute's silence at 1.46pm - the same instant as citizens in New York were remembering the moment that American Airlines Flight 11 crashed into the north tower.

Isobel Gallagher from New Jersey and her sister Geraldine McGeown from Belfast, who attended the city hall memorial, later recalled the death of their cousin Jean Andrucki.

"She was in the Port Authority building," said Isobel.

"Her mother phoned her to tell her to get the heck out. She said she just had to get two older ladies on to the stairwell and then she was going to leave. But it turned out the stairwell was full of smoke. That was the last time her mother talked to her."

Mayor O Donnghaile told the audience: "We are not strangers to the circumstances where a loved one leaves the house for work and never returns home again. There are so many people in this city and across Ireland who live with that experience every day of their lives. So we share a common bond of hurt, of bewilderment, of loss between the people of New York, and across America, and Belfast."

A recorded message from the Fire Department of New York's Edward Kilduff was broadcast to the crowd, who heard him pay tribute to the people of Belfast and to the emergency services in Northern Ireland for their support.

Consul General Kamala Lakhdhir delivered a letter from New York mayor Michael Bloomberg to the people of Belfast. He said a new memorial site would be opened today at the site of the World Trade Centre.

His letter added: "Given how many of those we lost that day had connections to your land, it seems only fitting that the memorial stands just one block away from the Irish Hunger Memorial. Together they will forever remind us of how indebted our city is to those who trace their roots to your shores."

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