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Monday 19 March 2018

102 years on, relatives of those who perished on the Titanic remember the dead

David Young

Relations of those who died on the Titanic have gathered in the city where the doomed liner was built to commemorate the anniversary of the sinking.

The Titanic Memorial Garden in the grounds of Belfast City Hall witnessed a poignant memorial service as relatives laid flowers in memory of those lost 102 years on from the disaster.

The White Star Line vessel, which foundered on her maiden trans-Atlantic voyage after striking an iceberg, was built less than a mile away in the city's once thriving docklands.

Each year on the day of the April 1912 tragedy, a solemn ceremony is held at the memorial garden where all 1,512 victims are listed on bronze plaques.

As well as relatives of Irish victims, relations of a number of international passengers who died travelled to today's event in Belfast.

President of the Belfast Titanic Society John Martin, whose great uncle Dr John Edward Simpson - one of the liner's two doctors - died on board, said many people retained an interest in the ship.

"Some with a direct family connection to people on board, some who were perhaps related to people who built the ship and then there are others who are more interested in why she sank and all the disaster management type of aspect of the story, so it's important for a lot of people," he said.

"But the importance of today - the anniversary - is very much about the people who died and that's what we are here for, just to commemorate those people and to think about all the years that they lost, all their lives cut so short."

Belfast Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir was among those who laid wreaths at the foot of the main Titanic memorial, which was erected in 1920.

"Whenever we gather to pay our respects to the dead I think it is a very special time and very solemn time for Belfast," he said.

"It's a real tribute to the Titanic Society that they have kept the memory of the Titanic dead alive for us today and their spirit and heritage and history and memories live on."

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