Remembrance Sunday: Poignant ceremonies to remember the fallen attended by Irish leaders
Published 11/11/2013 | 01:30
The First Minister joined the Republic's deputy leader at a Remembrance Sunday ceremony to honour those who lost their lives in two world wars.
Hundreds packed in to Belfast City Hall's grounds and lined its perimeter fence, in one of the largest gatherings for a Remembrance Sunday ceremony in the city in recent years.
Belfast Rabbi, David Singer, joined representatives from Christian faiths to mark the event on a crisp November morning.
After the sounding of the Last Post, the Union flag was lowered and people bowed their head for a two-minute silence.
Rev Canon Dr William Murphy led the gathering in a prayer, after which Dame Mary Peters, Lord Lieutenant of Belfast, laid the first wreath at city hall's cenotaph.
She was followed by Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, First Minister Peter Robinson, and Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, who laid a wreath of laurel leaves on behalf of the Irish government.
SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell joined councillors from all the political parties on Belfast City, except Sinn Fein. The council's Lord Mayor, Sinn Fein's Mairtin O Muilleoir, who was in America, had been criticised for not attending yesterday's Remembrance Day event.
Canada's consul Ken Brundle laid a wreath on behalf on the Canadian government, while French consulate Régine McCullough presented a wreath from the French government.
Chief Constable Matt Baggott also took part in the wreath-laying ceremony, while Colonel W R Harber presented a wreath on behalf of The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment.
Families and war veterans watched as representatives from associations across Northern Ireland lined up in the grounds.
The Band of the Royal Irish Regiment played as members of the Royal British Legion's local branches led the next stage of the wreath-laying ceremony.
Wreaths from the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers, The Royal Irish Rangers' Association, The London Irish Rifles' Association and the 36th (Ulster) Division Association were placed against the cenotaph. Also paying their respects were the Loyal Orange Order, the Federation of Women's Institutes NI, the Fire and Rescue Service, the Ambulance Service, the British Red Cross and the governments of the USA and the Caribbean island of St Vincent and St Grenadines.
Belfast's Deputy Lord Mayor, Christopher Stalford, concluded the ceremony by laying a wreath for the Royal Irish Rifles 14th (Young Citizens) Battalion.
UUP Belfast city councillor Jim Rodgers said it was one of the biggest gatherings for a Remembrance Sunday in several years.
Harold Gordon held the medals awarded posthumously to his late uncle, Jack Peake, who died at the Battle of the Somme.
The 22-year-old left his native Ballywalter in Co Down with his brothers, Reuben and Joseph, to fight in the Great War. Only Joseph returned.
Mr Gordon has been bringing his uncle's medals to the Remembrance Sunday ceremonies in Belfast for two decades, saying: "I made a promise to my mother that I would come every year."