Sunday, 10 November 2013

I was asked what did remembrance Sunday mean to an Irishman and to tell the truth at the time I did not have a straight answer, I mumbled something about solders dying for our freedom etc etc. So when I got back home I began to do a little research only to find out the Irish Taoiseach (prime minister) attended Remembrance Sunday event in Northern Ireland last year. Enda Kenny took part in an event in Enniskillen, where 25 years ago 11 Protestant civilians were killed in an IRA bomb at the town's cenotaph on Remembrance Day. His deputy, Eamon Gilmore, attended the main Remembrance Sunday event at the cenotaph in the grounds of Belfast City Hall. Speaking after the ceremony in Belfast, Gilmore said the presence of the two most senior Irish government figures was based on "respect and integrity". The deputy prime minister said people in the Republic had moved on and were comfortable with commemorating the war dead who fought in the British armed forces.
"There isn't a village or town anywhere on the island of Ireland that was not touched by the great wars of the 20th century," he said. Gilmore said people of all traditions on the island of Ireland would be "remembering together" in a "decade of commemorations" that include the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising, the end of the first world war in 1918 and the foundation of the two states in Ireland in 1921. Their presence is seen as another gesture of reconciliation between the two political traditions on the island, as well as official recognition in Dublin of the thousands of Irish men who served in the British armed forces, particularly during the two world wars. A spokeswoman for Ireland's department of foreign affairs said Gilmore's visit to Belfast was "an opportunity to underline the Irish government's support for reconciliation in Northern Ireland". About 50,000 Irish men who enlisted in the British army died in the first world war. This year the Irish coalition government pardoned about 5,000 soldiers who deserted the Irish army to go over and fight in the British war effort against Nazi Germany during the second world war. Recruits from the Irish Republic continue to serve in the British military in units such as the Royal Irish regiment.

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