Taoiseach lays wreath for Remembrance Sunday in North
Enda Kenny in Enniskillen tells personal impact of IRA Poppy Day bombing
Taoiseach Enda Kenny lays a laurel wreath at the war memorial in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh. Photograph: David Young/PA Wire
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore today participated in Remembrance Days ceremonies in Northern Ireland laying green laurel wreaths among the red poppy wreaths at the war memorial in Enniskillen and the cenotaph in Belfast.
Mr Gilmore joined the DUP First Minister Peter Robinson for the main Poppy Day ceremony outside Belfast City Hall while Mr Kenny travelled to Enniskillen for the second year in succession to remember the war dead and particularly those who died in the Enniskillen bombing 26 years ago.
The Taoiseach today spoke about how he had been moved by meeting the relatives of the 12 people who died as a result of the IRA bombing at the Enniskillen war memorial on Remembrance Sunday in November 1987, and also of meeting those injured in the blast.
“It was something that made an impact on me when I came here,” Mr Kenny said today. “I think it was appreciated by the groups that I met.”
In the company of DUP enterprise Minister Arlene Foster he again chatted with victims of the bombing today. Mr Foster, the local Assembly member, had formally invited Mr Kenny to Enniskillen on behalf of the Royal British Legion.
Mr Kenny said that the continuing impact of atrocities such as Enniskillen demonstrated the need to deal “with the consequences of the past and the need for reconciliation”.
“It says we should continue to work together to bring a sense of understanding and justice to those victims of the atrocious bomb in Enniskillen and in a broader sense to define what it means for the victims of terrorism right across the board,” he added.
Mr said the British and Irish governments were committed to working “together to build a sense of peace and reconciliation across all communities”.
“I think Enniskillen for me is a particularly personal issue because of my knowledge of some of the people who were involved. If (his presence in the town) means something to the communities here as a demonstration of working with them I am very happy to participate and will continue to do so,” he added.
The Northern Secretary Theresa Villiers said Mr Kenny’s attendance was “a welcome sign of the close relationships between the two governments and a recognition, of course, that men and women throughout the island of Ireland have lost their lives in armed conflict”.
His participation had “particular resonance in Enniskillen because of the tragic toll just over a quarter of a century ago”, she added
On the past generally Ms Villiers said that Dr Richard Haass’s all-party group which is addressing the legacy of the troubles as well as flags and parades had the “enthusiastic support of the two governments”. Dublin and London were “probably closer than they have been for very many years”, she said.
Ms Foster said the fact that the Taoiseach had returned for a second time to the Enniskillen, “a place that is synonymous with reconciliation”, sent out “a very strong message”.
In Dublin, President Michael D Higgins will attend the British Legion’s annual service of remembrance at St Patrick’s Cathedral this afternoon. DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson is also to attend the service.
Queen Elizabeth leads British services
In Britain Queen Elizabeth II honoured members of the Armed Forces killed in conflict as Remembrance Sunday services took place around the UK to remember the war dead.
The monarch laid the first wreath at the Cenotaph on Whitehall to commemorate all those who have died in the decades since the First World War, bowing her head after paying her respects.
Senior royals, including Second World War veteran the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince Harry and the Duke of Cambridge — with wife Kate watching from a nearby balcony - joined the monarch and politicians, military leaders, veterans and serving personnel in laying wreaths of poppies at the monument.
Prince Harry was laying the wreath on behalf of his father Prince Charles, who is currently abroad on an official tour of India with the Duchess of Cornwall, and was marking the occasion there.
Troops in Afghanistan were joined by the Duke of York, who laid a wreath during a service held at Camp Bastion in Helmand Province to mark Remembrance Sunday.
Millions across the UK fell silent in tribute to those lost in war, joining the crowds gathered in central London who stood in a moment of quiet contemplation as Big Ben struck 11am.
During the two-minute silence, only the distant sounds of traffic and the rustling of leaves could be heard, despite the fact that police said Whitehall was at capacity.
The beginning and end of the silence was marked with the firing of a round by the King’s Troop Royal Horse Artillery, using a 13-pounder First World War gun.
In cold but bright weather, the royals and dignitaries then laid their wreaths at the Cenotaph.
British prime minister David Cameron was first after the royals to do so, followed by Labour leader Ed Miliband and deputy prime minister Nick Clegg.
Former prime ministers Sir John Major, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and London Mayor Boris Johnson also took part in the ceremony.
Additional reporting PA