Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds gather in Belfast for 9/11 tribute

By Victoria O'Hara

Hundreds of people gathered in Belfast yesterday to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in America.

The poignant service, held on the lawn at the front of the city hall, honoured the 2,977 victims of the attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania in 2001.

The ceremony, attended by more than 300 people including representatives from the Northern Ireland emergency services, was one of a number of events that took place across the UK.

Others were held in London, Glasgow and Birmingham.

A one-minute silence was observed at 1.46pm to mark the time the first plane crashed into the World Trade Centre's North Tower a decade ago.

Images from the ceremony in New York were broadcast simultaneously on the large screen in the grounds during the service.

A bunch of flowers was laid at a commemorative stone in the council grounds by Lord Mayor of Belfast Niall O'Donnghaile and the US Consul General Kamala Lakhdhir.

A video message from Edward Kilduff, chief of the Fire Department of New York (FDNY) thanked the people across the province for their support.

In it he said he wanted to thank "our friends".

"It was a difficult and tragic time for us, but we always knew that we could count on your prayers and support," he said.

"The strong determination and generosity of the people of Belfast and Northern Ireland truly came through.

"We hope that everybody has a prayerful day of remembrance as we will here in New York city.

"We will look forward to continuing our relationship."

Following the minute's silence, twins Eoin and Ciaran Trainor from Belfast - born on September 11, 2001, recited a poem.

Mr O'Donnghaille went on to describe the relationship between people in Belfast and New York as "special".

"We are not strangers to the circumstances where a loved one leaves the house for work and never returns home alive again," he said.

"There are 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."

In an emotional speech, United States Consul General Kamala Lakhdhir said there had been thousands of examples of heroism that day in America.

"As I reflect on these events I do not focus on the buildings and planes, I think about the individuals," she said.

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