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Belfast honours Somme heroes

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Owen Paterson and Peter Robinson in France, where they laid wreaths and remembered those who lost their lives at the Somme

Owen Paterson and Peter Robinson in France, where they laid wreaths and remembered those who lost their lives at the Somme

Belfast mayor Niall O Donnghaile lays a wreath at the Somme memorial

Belfast mayor Niall O Donnghaile lays a wreath at the Somme memorial

Owen Paterson and Peter Robinson in France, where they laid wreaths and remembered those who lost their lives at the Somme

The sun came out briefly as the Royal Irish Regiment led proceedings in memory of those who served in the 36th Ulster Division and 16th Irish Division, its guard of honour accompanied by the brass instruments of the Light Cavalry Band.

A procession towards the cenotaph included members of various religious groups, leaders of the Orange Order and representatives of the Armed Forces, who came out to pay their respects.

The congregation looked on in silence as wreaths were laid at the monument - which was surrounded by Royal Irish sentries, by decorated ex-servicemen and political representatives, including UUP leader Tom Elliott and Nigel Dodds of the DUP.

The sombre nature of the occasion was emphasised by the reveille sounded by a bugler as the Union flag was raised to full mast at the end of the event.

DUP Deputy Lord Mayor Ruth Patterson read the resolution passed by the council in place of Sinn Fein Lord Mayor Niall O Donnghaile, who followed in the footsteps of party predecessors by not attending.

Mr O Donnghaile laid his own wreath two hours before the official ceremony began.

"We must never forget any war that has taken place in the past or currently ongoing," Ms Patterson said.

Belfast Telegraph


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