Belfast Telegraph

Mayor to attend Boyne remembrance service

by Fiona Rutherford

The mayor of Newtownabbey will join a number of civic representatives for a pre-Poppy Day service of remembrance near the Boyne this weekend.

Royal British Legion Standards will be unfurled as ex-British regular army and part-time UDR and RIR soldiers mingle with former troops from the Irish Republic to remember the war dead from both sides of the border at the service on Saturday, November 6.

The war memorial in Drogheda's Mary Street is the venue for the now annual event to honour the World War fallen.

A coach party from Whiteabbey Royal British Legion in Co Antrim — who helped pioneer the event a decade ago — will be among the guests.

They will fall in and come to attention as the Royal Standards are carried to the commemoration at 11am, with around 200 people expected to be attending the interdenominational service of praise and remembrance for those who died or were wounded.

As guests of the Drogheda Mayor, Paul Bell, civic representatives, including the DUP Mayor of Newtownabbey, Alderman Paula Bradley will lay wreaths to recall the men from all over the island of Ireland who were killed or wounded in the British army during WWI.

Also attending will be DUP Alderman Nigel Hamilton and Cllr Brendan Carlin, a recently appointed Independent member.

They will stand-by as Royal British Legion Poppy wreaths are laid side-by-side with the tricolour wreaths of the Organisation of National Ex-servicemen, (ONE) as the traditional two-minute silence is observed.

The symbolism will be completed with the Union Flag - incorporated in the Legion's Royal Standard - dipped in tribute as the Irish Tricolour pays tribute to a fallen generation.

Former Drogheda mayor Sean Collins, who both initiated the revival and has regularly visited Whiteabbey Royal British Legion to liaise on increasing levels of co-operation in such cross-border initiatives remains the driving force for the commemoration, which is now hosted by Drogheda Borough Council.

“As a historian, I was very impressed by the War memorabilia displayed in Whiteabbey Legion Branch, which includes a tribute to a WWI Victoria Cross recipient, Lieutenant Emerson, who hailed from Drogheda and from these discussions, the idea of a joint cross-border commemoration grew,” he said.

Whiteabbey's John Dumigan, a former chairman of the Northern Ireland Royal British Legion, said: “This important tribute to those who served in 1914-18 for the common good has grown from a small party of representatives from Whiteabbey being invited by Sean Collins to take part in the revival of a long-neglected ceremony to what is now an important annual cross-border event.”

It is hoped that on Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the Republic next year, she and Irish president Mary McAleese will pay tribute to the thousands of Irish citizens who fought in both world wars and who have long gone unrecognised.

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