Kenny and Cameron to take joint war memorial trip
THE Taoiseach Enda Kenny and British Prime Minister David Cameron will visit a memorial to Irish soldiers in Belgium together next month to mark the start of a year of remembrance for Irish soldiers who died in World War I.
Mr Kenny was speaking in Enniskillen where he laid a laurel wreath at the cenotaph for the second year running.
In a speech to members of the Royal British Legion afterwards, the Taoiseach said his visit to the North and the forthcoming visit to Belgium was aimed at building bridges.
"The Prime Minister and I will visit the Messines Tower in December; it will be an opportunity to start a year of remembrance in 2014 and the centenary of the start of the Great War," Mr Kenny told the former British soldiers.
"It will be another opportunity to remember the 50,000 soldiers from the Republic of Ireland who died in that war. We want 2014 to be the 'Year of the Irish Soldier'.
Mr Kenny said they wanted to remember the people from all over Ireland who fought and died side-by-side.
The Taoiseach said President Michael D Higgins – who attended a remembrance ceremony at St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin – would carry out an official visit to Britain as part of the reconciliation efforts.
The December trip with Mr Cameron will be to the Messines Tower which is part of an Island of Ireland Peace Park near Ypres in Belgium and acts as a memorial for all those from Ireland who died in World War I.
Mr Kenny told his audience: "So many people have suffered as a result of the Troubles here in Northern Ireland.
"We must do our best to bring closure to the stress, loss and trauma and suffering; that's why I came back to Enniskillen."
Mr Kenny also had time to share a joke about the economic crisis.
Referring to a sermon at the Remembrance Sunday service at Enniskillen Cathedral, he said he had turned to Dean Kenneth Hall afterwards and said: "My God, when you were talking about the exodus from Egypt, I thought you were talking about our exit from the Troika down south."
The chairman of the town's British Legion John McCusker said Mr Kenny's visit was "part of a process of healing on this island".