Belfast Telegraph

This solemn day serves as a reminder of conflicts past and present, including our own troubled history

Editor's Viewpoint

Today, November 11, is one of the most solemn days in the annual calendar when we remember the dead and wounded of two World Wars, and of many other conflicts since then, even into modern times.

The scale of the carnage is overwhelming, and today and tomorrow there will be ceremonies of remembrance all over Northern Ireland and elsewhere.

At the centre of all these ceremonies will be the poppy as a reminder of all suffering and loss.

In a free society people have the right to wear a poppy or not to do so, but it is worth remembering that this freedom of conscience was hard won by those who fought and died to preserve such a precious gift for successive generations.

In the Republic, the poppy and remembrance of two World Wars has been shrouded in its history since Partition, even though thousands of Irish men and women served in the British armed forces in many theatres of war.

That mood has changed in the Republic, especially since the visit there of Queen Elizabeth some years ago, and it was encouraging to see Taoiseach Leo Varadkar giving a lead this week by wearing the Irish version of the poppy.

This week was also the 30th anniversary of the horrific no-warning Provisional IRA bomb at the Enniskillen Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday, and this was marked by a dignified and poignant event on Wednesday.

Sadly, however, a controversy has arisen about the permanent placing of the memorial to the dead of Enniskillen. The local Catholic Diocesan Council, which has responsibility for the proposed site, has said that it was informed about it only in September.

Most people would think that the council had more than enough time to make a decision on this sensitive issue before the November 8 ceremony.

It is to be hoped that this will be settled amicably and soon, so that the Enniskillen victims and their grieving families can truly be at peace.

Attitudes overall are softening, thankfully, but clearly there is still a way to go.

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