Thursday 29 September 2016

'Victims should be remembered by name and not number'

Sam Griffin and Lyra McKee

Published 09/11/2015 | 02:30

Taoiseach Enda Kenny during Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, where tributes were paid to members of the armed forces who died in major conflicts. Photo: Niall Carson
Taoiseach Enda Kenny during Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, where tributes were paid to members of the armed forces who died in major conflicts. Photo: Niall Carson

Victims of conflicts past and present were honoured with solemn song and contemplative silence at the annual Remembrance Sunday ceremony in Dublin.

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The event in St Patrick's Cathedral, as well as those in Enniskillen, Belfast and across the UK, are held to honour servicemen and women who died in wars over the last 100 years.

But at the Dublin ceremony, the Rev Michael Roemmele asked the congregation, who included President Michael D Higgins and Tánaiste Joan Burton, to also recall innocent civilians who have died in fighting.

He paid a special tribute to all the refugees who died over the past year attempting to flee war in Syria, including three-year-old Aylan Kurdi who drowned in the Mediterranean in September.

"The death of that little boy was the catalyst which inspired politicians to sit around a table and start working together to find ways to bring an end to the senseless loss of the innocent, so often dehumanised by the term 'collateral damage' ... they are the real victims of today's wars and they need to be remembered by name, not by numbers."

He added that it was right to honour fallen members of the armed forces but wrong to "sanitise war" by speaking of "courage or loyalty or of the 'ultimate sacrifice'".

"It is more true to say their lives were sacrificed by politicians who failed to negotiate political settlements to contentious issues and who sent them to fight," he said.

President Higgins laid a laurel wreath as part of the ceremony, as did the president of the Royal British Legion's Ireland branch, David O'Morchoe.

The ceremony was the first to be attended by a representative from Sinn Féin, with Críona Ní Dhálaigh at the event as the capital's Lord Mayor.

Arts Minister Heather Humphreys was also at the event, as well as the Ceann Comhairle Séan Barrett, British Ambassador Dominick Chilcott and GAA president Aogán Ó Fearghail.

In Enniskillen, Taoiseach Enda Kenny laid a wreath at the foot of the war memorial exactly 28 years after an IRA bomb detonated there claiming 12 lives.

In Belfast, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan laid a laurel wreath at the Cenotaph while in London, Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall also took part in a wreath-laying ceremony.

Meanwhile, on Saturday, around 15 people gathered on Dublin's Mount Street Bridge to lay a wreath of poppies in what is believed to have been the Orange Order's first public event in Dublin since 1936.

The event had been deliberately kept low-key, with no press statements issued beforehand.

"Hopefully, there'll be no vandalism," said Chris Thackaberry, one of the organisers.

It is thought the last time the Order held a public event in Dublin was in 1936 when it commemorated British soldiers who died during the 1916 Rising.

Organised by members of the Dublin and Wicklow Loyal Orange Lodge and The Reform Group - which lobbies for the Republic of Ireland to rejoin the Commonwealth - the poppy wreath was laid in remembrance of members of the Sherwood Foresters. This British Army regiment sustained significant casualties during a battle with volunteers under Éamon de Valera's command near Mount Street Bridge in April 1916.

Irish Independent

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