Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: PM's salute to war dead is only fitting

It was fitting that on the day the Prime Minister David Cameron announced that £50m would be available to fund a commemoration of World War 1 in 2014, the centenary of its beginning, it was also revealed that one of the most substantial relics of that conflict will be preserved.

HMS Caroline, moored in Belfast, is the last surviving warship of any nation from the Battle of Jutland, the decisive encounter of the war that was supposed to end all wars.

Whether the synchronicity of the announcements was deliberate or not, both share a common aim, to remember those who lost their lives in one of the most ghastly wars in history and to create a lasting legacy for future generations.

This newspaper was a strong voice in the demands to save HMS Caroline, which was threatened with being thrown on the scrapheap and credit is due to the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment for putting up some of the money needed to begin restoration work on this important vessel.

It would have been shameful had the ship been lost to posterity. It is a vital part of maritime history and - given the Titanic experience - we now know that this heritage can be a winning tourist attraction.

HMS Caroline has an unique provenance and it will add substantially to the tourism mix in the province. Having got to this stage it is now important that the restoration work, costing an estimated £5m, gets under way as quickly as possible.

Perhaps Mr Cameron will give some of his £50m towards bringing the ship back to its former glory, given its status and the fact it will give future generations an unrepeatable tangible connection to one of the great sea battles.

The project will fulfil the Prime Minister's twin hopes, remembering those who fell - and thousands of Ulstermen died in that war - and creating something enduring to educate our children and our children's children.

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