Ireland to take part in UK Cenotaph service on Remembrance Sunday

Posted on on 15 October 2014
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The Irish Government is to lay a wreath for the first time at the Remembrance Sunday ceremony at the Cenotaph in London.

In a statement, the UK Government said the invitation had been made in the Centenary year of the First World War "in recognition of the immense contribution and shared sacrifice made by many thousands of Irish men and women who have served in the British Armed Forces."

The Irish Ambassador in London, Daniel Mulhall, will represent his country at the Cenotaph on November 9th 2014.

Queen Elizabeth will lead the traditional commemorations in Whitehall, accompanied by political leaders, chiefs of the armed forces and Commonwealth representatives.

More than 200,000 Irishmen, both Catholics and Protestants, are estimated to have volunteered to fight for Britain in the First World War. 

Sajid Javid, the UK's Government's Culture Secretary, said: "Irish servicemen stood side by side with men and women from across Great Britain and the Commonwealth. As we commemorate the centenary of the start of the war it is right we remember our nations’ shared sacrifice."

Ireland's memory of the conflict was complicated by the fight for independence. The Easter Rising against British rule broke out in 1916, the same year as Irishmen fought in the Battle of the Somme. Partition followed in 1922.

But in the Centenary year of 2014, the Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, has insisted that the First World War shouldn't be left 'as a blank space in Irish history.'

Speaking in July at a ceremony in Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery, Mr Higgins paid tribute to Ireland's First World War soldiers: "We cannot give back their lives to the dead, nor whole bodies to those who were wounded, or repair the grief, undo the disrespect that was sometimes shown to those who fought or their families.

"But we honour them all now, even if at a distance, and we do not ask, nor would it be appropriate to interrogate, their reasons for enlisting."

Sources: UK Government, Irish President's Office

Images: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News

Posted by: Peter Alhadeff, Centenary News