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Remembrance Day: Poignant scenes as Northern Ireland honours fallen heroes

By Sophie Inge

Published 14/11/2016

The Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in the grounds of Belfast City Hall
The Remembrance Day service at the Cenotaph in the grounds of Belfast City Hall
Lord Mayor Brian Kingston lays a wreath at the Cenotaph on behalf of the people of Belfast
Frances Fitzgerald, TD Minister for Justice and Equality lays a wreath
Sea Cadets take part in the Newry service
Twelve-year- old Zack Rutherford from the Britannia Band lays a wreath

Thousands attended Remembrance Day services across Northern Ireland on Sunday to honour those who lost their lives in both World Wars and other conflicts.

In Belfast, hundreds braved the cold to gather in the Garden of Remembrance at Belfast City Hall where a two-minute silence was observed.

Poppy wreaths were laid at the Cenotaph by representatives of the armed forces as well as Lord Mayor Brian Kingston, Secretary of State James Brokenshire, and the Executive's Junior Minister Alastair Ross.

Also in attendance was the Tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald, who laid a wreath of green laurels on behalf of the Irish government.

A wreath was also laid at the Cenotaph in London by DUP MP Nigel Dodds.

The service in Belfast was led by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Brian Kingston, who said: "It was an honour for me to lay a wreath on behalf of the people of Belfast in remembrance of all those who have served in two World Wars and subsequent conflicts, and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice."

Ms Fitzgerald told the Belfast Telegraph of how personal remembrance is to her, with her grandfather having served in the British Army.

"Fifty thousand families [in both places] were affected by the loss of a loved one during the First World War so it's really important that we all come together to remember that," she said.

"I think of my own family with my grandfather who served as a soldier in the British Army. My father was a colonel in the Irish Army. You think of that history and it's repeated across the whole island: these kind of complexities that we really didn't speak about as much as we do now. We're doing that more and more. And I think that's really in the interests of reconciliation."

Asked if she thought Sinn Fein should have attended, she replied: "People make their own decisions, don't they?"

Mr Brokenshire, who was attending the service for the first time as Secretary of State, said: "It is hard to imagine the horror of what those brave men must have endured over 100 years ago, and that is why it is important we gather today to remember that they paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedom that we all enjoy today."

Meanwhile, at St Anne's Cathedral, the Dean of Belfast, John, Mann, paid tribute to the fallen.

"War is rarely out of the news, and especially the ongoing conflicts, with the tragic humanitarian effects of the assault on Aleppo, and the appalling UN reports of what is taking place in Mosul particularly in our minds."

He also spoke of the Battle of the Somme - in which the British Army suffered more than 420,000 casualties.

"Let that immense sacrifice of life sit symbolically in our minds today as we recall in silence that war's effects are horrific and brutalising, as well as fought with the intention of creating a better, more stable, more just and more peaceful world," he said.

And Ireland's two Archbishops of Armagh - Church of Ireland leader Richard Clarke and Catholic primate Eamon Martin - jointly laid a wreath at the War Memorial on the Mall, Armagh.

Belfast Telegraph

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