Belfast Telegraph

Irish ministers 'likely to accept' Belfast Cenotaph tributes invite

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

The Irish government has said that it is likely to accept an invitation to participate in war commemorations in Northern Ireland this year.

A spokesman said that ministers from the Republic would look favourably on the first ever invite to take part in Battle of the Somme and Armistice Day ceremonies at the Cenotaph in Belfast in July and November.

"If any invitation were to be received from Belfast City Council for the Irish government to be represented at the Somme and Remembrance Sunday commemorations in Northern Ireland, the government would look positively at being represented," he told the Belfast Telegraph last night.

The spokesman declined to speculate on who would attend the solemn events, although it is thought that Tanaiste Eamonn Gilmore would be the most likely candidate.

Regardless of whether it is accepted or not, the invitation heralds a new era in relations between Belfast and Dublin.

A motion asking an Irish minister to travel across the border for the solemn commemorations was put forward during a full meeting of Belfast City Council this week.

SDLP representative Pat McCarthy said he had been inspired by the Queen's historic visit to the Republic last May when she laid a wreath at Dublin's Garden of Remembrance in honour of republicans who died fighting the British. "I am very pleased the motion has been passed," said Mr McCarthy. "It's just a shame that (it) was not passed unanimously."

Sinn Fein was the only party not to support the invitation, which it branded "premature" and "ill thought out."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph