Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Heroism of nurses is worthy of honour

It is therefore most encouraging to note the renewed efforts to honour the role of Irish nurses from all parts of the island who served in the Great War battlefields of France and also in East Africa, Mesopotamia and other theatres of conflict
It is therefore most encouraging to note the renewed efforts to honour the role of Irish nurses from all parts of the island who served in the Great War battlefields of France and also in East Africa, Mesopotamia and other theatres of conflict

Editor's Viewpoint

In this season of Remembrance our thoughts turn to those who served in the armed forces and died or suffered through two World Wars, in other subsequent wars, and in our prolonged Troubles.

We also think of their families, who recall and respect their relatives' service. This is also a time of increased interest in genealogy, made popular by television series such as Who Do You Think You Are?, and which has made many people search for information about their ancestors - often with surprising results.

Partly as a result of this, and of the legacy of history itself, we are now much more aware of the sacrifice of Irish soldiers in the Great War. They include the estimated 210,000 who served, and many of whom returned to a changed Ireland where they were ostracised.

A further 70,000 brave men and women from this island took part in the Second World War. Fortunately their contribution has become much more recognised and respected in recent years. The awareness of such bravery underlines the complexity of our shared history, which is more complex than many may have recognised.

It is therefore most encouraging to note the renewed efforts to honour the role of Irish nurses from all parts of the island who served in the Great War battlefields of France and also in East Africa, Mesopotamia and other theatres of conflict.

They include Margaret Anderson, known as the Mournes' Florence Nightingale, and Annie Colhoun from Londonderry, who was injured when her Tunisian hospital was bombed in 1917, as well as Eveline Dawson, who died in a hospital ship in 1917 and Rachel Ferguson from Moneymore who died from pneumonia in Italy in 1918.

Two local retired health workers have been campaigning for recognition of the sacrifice and courage of the remarkable Irish nurses during the Great War, and they want an exhibition and a plaque to remind all of us about what these women achieved.

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The Alliance Party's Michael Long is a supporter of this idea, and there is a strong possibility that a suitable plaque will be placed in Belfast City Hall to pay tribute to the Irish nurses.

This ought to be welcomed as a cross-party project, and there will be widespread public support for such a memorial to these noble women which is long overdue.

The least we can do is to encourage the councillors to take this project to heart and to back it all the way.

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