Irish Government Minister Attends Belfast Somme Commemoration

Having been invited to attend, almost unanimously, by Belfast City Council, an Irish Government Minister has taken part in the Battle of the Somme commemorations at Belfast City Hall for the first time.  From the BBC report

Soldiers from across Ireland fought side by side in the World War I.

As with previous years, Sinn Fein councillors did not attend the main commemoration.

[Alan Kelly TD, the Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport], who laid a wreath, said: “I think it’s very important that today we acknowledge the sacrifices that have been made, not just in this jurisdiction but also the Republic indeed.

“Over the last number of years more and more acknowledgement has gone to those who sacrificed their lives during both wars.”

The Battle of the Somme claimed the lives of 420,000 British soldiers.

French casualties were estimated at 195,000 and the German loss of life was around 650,000.

The UTV report adds

Lord Mayor of Belfast Gavin Robinson said Sunday’s event was “hugely important.”

The DUP Alderman added: “I’m glad so many people did turn out for what was a very poignant and respectful commemoration service here at City Hall.

He said that the minister’s participation builds on the “momentous presence” of the Queen in Dublin last year.

The monarch visited the Garden of Remembrance in the Irish capital city and laid a wreath in memory of those who died fighting [for] Irish independence from Britain.

SDLP Councillor Pat McCarthy described Minister Kelly’s attendance as both “historic and symbolic.”

He added: “For a long time in the history of the Republic that period was forgotten and was something which was never talked about.

“Today we have taken another step along the road to strengthen normal relationships between people of goodwill on the island of Ireland and remembering our shared history.”

“Ho, hum.”

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  • lamhdearg2

    I dare say someone from sf will show up next year.
    cue more fawning by the MSM on a ground breaking event.

  • Drumlins Rock

    I many ways todays was a more important event, and ironically has brought nationalist and unionist together just as much as Marty’s gesture.

  • RyanAdams

    Very positive move from the SDLP who initiated the motion which I believe was a truly sincere attempt to build relations between unionists and nationalists and north and south.

    lamhdearg, that would be a pretty solid prediction – on both counts.

  • Mister_Joe

    As many casualties (deaths?) as the probable population of Northern Ireland at the time, or, at least, close to it. As well as remembering the youngsters who died needlessly, shouldn’t such ceremonies also condemn those who sent them to their deaths?

  • lamhdearg2

    “shouldn’t such ceremonies also condemn those who sent them to their deaths?”
    I think its implied.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Mister_Joe

    “shouldn’t such ceremonies also condemn those who sent them to their deaths?”

    That is not going to happen Joe:

    “Hitler’s Children was full of guilt and shame”
    Guardian

    The First World War was a family feud on a grand scale……Albert’s greatest wish was for his future children “to carry the seed of liberalism to the Continent to fulfill his vision of a Europe converted to constitutional monarchy, led by a united and liberal Germany with Prussia at the helm”.
    http://voices.yahoo.com/world-war-royal-family-feud-5843986.html

  • salgado

    “I think its implied.”
    It certainly always was at commemorations I’ve been to.

  • “not just in this jurisdiction but also the Republic indeed”

    My good friend Robert Thompson has played a quiet but important role in drawing attention to the stories of those who perished in WW 1, including the story of John Meeke and William Redmond, one a Unionist, the other a Nationalist.

    Twenty-three Bushmills boys were killed or missing on the 1st of July 1916 with a further ten killed before the battle finished in November

    This year’s Bushmills At War (I and II) exhibition begins on July 7 and ends on July 15.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Nevin {This year’s Bushmills At War (I and II) exhibition}

    Will there be any mention of the Germans who surrendered never made it to prisoner-of-war camps?

    Is it not time that the “Germans” was invited?

  • Drumlins Rock

    good to see one republican stand up for their old Nazi mates, well done taggart.

    off course many Germans were murdered, on a vast scale, by the republicans new communists mates.

    many commerations have been held with the German people over the years, we included their story recently in our local group in Tyrone.

  • Dec

    ‘good to see one republican stand up for their old Nazi mates, well done taggart.’

    So the Germans in WW1 were Nazis now, DR? Maybe your group in Tyrone could cover Von Ribbentrop’s visits to the Ards peninsula, where one of his gifts still resides.

  • Dec
  • tyrone_taggart

    Drumlins Rock
    “good to see one republican stand up for their old Nazi mates”….”we included their story recently in our local group in Tyrone.”

    What is the story of the Nazi part of WW1?

  • JR

    Given the number of Irish who died in WW1 this is long overdue. Nationalists should not let the Unionist Ideology that has been retrospectively plastered on the battle of the somme put them off commemorating those who died in the battle.

  • The Raven

    “the Unionist Ideology”

    You of course mean, the “ideology of some Unionists”.

    Don’t you?

  • Neville Bagnall

    Nice to see the invite happening.

    It’s a pity to carp, but looking at the b-roll on BBC Breakfast this morning, I thought Minister Kelly’s body language was dreadful.

    I guess he didn’t see the significance. Not sure what that says.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Taggart, tell us your German prisoners story.

    Nevin, who you were replying to, btw mentioned both wars, so mentioning Nazi’s is fine, we could of course go back to Casement and the like in WW1, not much more glorious.

    Dec, strange you pick on one of the most liberal of unionists, but as I’m sure your aware his actions were all pre-war, and at the worst misguided. You are grasping at straws.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Drumlins Rock

    “Taggart, tell us your German prisoners story.”

    I was not part of WW1.

    You should be telling me if that sort of thing occurred or not as you say “we included their story recently in our local group in Tyrone.”

  • Pete Baker

    Guys,

    Focus.

  • Drumlins Rock

    “Will there be any mention of the Germans who surrendered never made it to prisoner-of-war camps?”

    Tell us all about them taggart.

    As for the local story, we had a local family tell the story of their mother who was a German War bride, and lost a brother in the Luftwaffa, and the rest of her family in bombings etc.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Drumlins Rock: Tell us all about them:

    “Nearly every instructor in the mess” he wrote, “could quote specific instances of prisoners having been murdered on the way back. The commonest motives were, it seems, revenge for the death of friends or relatives, [and] jealousy of the prisoner’s trip to a comfortable prison camp in England”.

    “Good-Bye to All That” Robert Graves

  • tyrone_taggart

    Pete Baker

    “Guys, Focus.”

    Robert von Ranke Graves account of WW1 is interesting in particular when you remember his Mother was German.

  • Drumlins Rock

    taggart, would you have join up with Casement to fight alongside the Germans in WW1?

    You evidence seems rather third hand, but sadly probably true in rare occasions, its interesting though that your bitterness makes you focus in on this detail of the war, however even if it was not as black and white as WW2 it is still clear that the “good guys” won.

  • Alan N/Ards

    The visit by Alan Kelly is a welcome step forward. I agree with Pat McCarthy that it is both historic and symbolic. I hope Minister Kelly or indeed the Irish President will attend next year. I also believe that a contingent from the Irish Army should be invited to the commemoration at city hall. Hopefully unionist’s at city hall will have the sense to see that this is the way forward.

    By his (no strings attached) appearance at this event, Minister Kelly is showing unionist’s, that the people in power in the Republic are genuine in reaching out to the unionist irish on this island.

  • tyrone_taggart

    “You evidence seems rather third hand, but sadly probably true in rare occasions”

    As Graves said it was “every instructor in the mess” on what basis do you claim it was “probably true in rare occasions”?

    “The British soldier is a kindly fellow and it is safe to say, despite the dope, seldom oversteps the mark of barbaric propriety in France, save occasionally to kill prisoners he cannot be bothered to escort back to his lines.”

    “A Brass Hat in No Man’s Land” Brigadier-General Frank Percy Crozier

  • Mister_Joe

    Individual acts of murder are not uncommon in war but the orders can come from the top too if you remember what happened to 50 escapers after the Great Escape. I hereby invoke Godwin’s Law on this particular topic.

  • tyrone_taggart

    ” your bitterness makes you focus in on this detail of the war”

    At a “Somme Commemoration” what should be my focus?

  • Dec

    ‘taggart, would you have join up with Casement to fight alongside the Germans in WW1?’

    Other than language what was the difference between their and that of British and French?

    ‘Dec, strange you pick on one of the most liberal of unionists, but as I’m sure your aware his actions were all pre-war, and at the worst misguided. You are grasping at straws.’

    Tell me then who that most liberal of unionists was describing here:
    ‘very agreeable, a kindly man with a receding chin and an impressive face’

    Von Ribbentrop may have partied with his SS attachment in Mount stewart pre-war but it was also aprés the Nuremburg laws. And as for the current Queen of England’s uncle…

  • t_t, the invitation is an open one and the stories are mainly about local folks.

  • Drumlins Rock

    And if Bushmills is too far away t-t, you can come to our next cross-community commeration event for all who died in both wars, in South Tyrone.

  • tyrone_taggart

    Drumlins Rock
    “next cross-community commeration event ”

    Where is it?

    Date and time?

    And what do you do?

  • Coll Ciotach

    I now would expect to see unionists turning up at the 1916 commemorations or indeed why not go back a few years to the Boer War and commemorate the Irish who fell in that?

    Hold on – there were bad Irish there – you know the type – fought against Queen and Country don’t you know.

    “On the mountainside the battle raged, there was no stop or stay;
    Mackin captured Private Burke and ensign Michael Shea,
    Fitzgerald got Fitzpatrick, Brannigan found O’Rourke;
    Finnigan took a man named Fay and a couple of lads from Cork.
    Sudden they heard McManus shout, “Hands up, I’ll run you through,”
    He thought it was a Yorkshire Tyke – ’twas Corporal Donaghue!
    McGarry took O’Leary, O’Brien got McNamee,
    That’s how the English fought the Dutch at the Battle of Dundee.”

    Frankly I care little for those who died fighting for the British in any conflict.

  • lamhdearg2

    anyone hear the report on talkback today, on last nights attack by Irish nationalists on the “Somme commemoration parade which passed off peacefully”,

    ps those who are sick of debate surrounding parades, need not join in

  • stewart1

    All the news outlets covered loyalist disturbances in East Belfast last night. Nothing about any attacks on an orange order parade.

    Was it the same loyalist excuse for rioting as last year when the rioted with police for hours after the same parade, or did they think something new for this year’s riot?

  • lamhdearg2

    Did you hear talkback stewart1?, if not, A community representative from the newtownards road claimed that irish nats started the trouble, when they attacted the parade, a claim that the representative from the short strand did not refute, the Newton rep then claimed the police, later agreed with him that it was Irish nats that started the trouble (by attacking the parade) but then, that the police had released a statement to the press, that said different, he then went on to say that he was considering withdrawning from working on the interface, due to the disinformation the police where putting out.

    All the short strand rep had to say was that the parade should not happen and there would be no trouble*, to which the newton rep countered, the parade will be going ahead, and Irish nat attacks will not stop it*
    * words to that effect.

    Considering the talkback item was bill as a discussion about what was being done to ease tensions, it was quite an emotionally charged spat, and along with GARCs plans for ardoyne on the 12th do not bode well for a peaceful summer.

  • lamhdearg2

    Graffiti attack on Orange hall in north Belfast,
    Sectarian graffiti has been painted on an Orange hall in north Belfast early on Tuesday, police have said.
    In Londonderry, three bottles of paint were thrown at the Apprentice Boys’ Memorial Hall in Society Street at about 21:00 BST on Monday.