Joe Costello TD, Minister for Trade and Development, attended a commemorative service at the cenotaph at Belfast City Hall to mark the 97th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme, on 1 July 1916.
Minister Costello attended the ceremony at the invitation of Belfast City Council, and laid a wreath in memory of those who fought at the battle of the Somme.
The Minister’s participation in the ceremony follows Minister of State Alan Kelly’s attendance in 2012, the first occasion on which a member of the Irish government participated in the ceremony. Since then, the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste have also participated in Remembrance Sunday ceremonies in Northern Ireland in November.
Speaking after the event, Minister Costello said ‘I am honoured to represent the Irish Government at today’s service in memory of the Irish men who fought the Battle of the Somme. Their sacrifice is rightly honoured and commemorated as we look to the future of reconciliation and peace in Ireland.
In the current decade of commemorations, it is important that we remember that all of the events of the period in question are interlinked, and form part of the shared heritage of all of the people of this island. Many of the workers who participated in the Dublin Lockout which we are also marking this year later fought and died in the First World War’.
‘Commemoration of the Irish experience of the War will be a central feature of the government’s programme for the decade, and will be marked in a spirit of inclusivity, mutual respect and recognition of the all-island nature of our history’.
From History Ireland: Timothy Bowman on the Irish at the Somme.