In first, Irish PM lays wreath for British war dead

BELFAST Sun Nov 11, 2012 1:46pm GMT

Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny holds a news conference at the end of a European Union leaders summit in Brussels October 19, 2012. REUTERS/Sebastien Pirlet

Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny holds a news conference at the end of a European Union leaders summit in Brussels October 19, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Sebastien Pirlet

Related Topics

BELFAST (Reuters) - Ireland's prime minister laid a wreath to honour fallen soldiers at a British Remembrance Day service for the first time on Sunday, the latest gesture of reconciliation between historic foes.

Annual Remembrance Day services to honour Britain's war dead and the wearing of the traditional poppy are controversial in Ireland because of abuses committed by soldiers in Northern Ireland and during British rule in Ireland before independence.

Enda Kenny took part in a service in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland on the 25th anniversary of the Irish Republican Army bombing of a Remembrance Day service in the town that killed 12 people, one of the worst atrocities of three decades of sectarian violence.

He stood head bowed during two minutes of silence before taking his turn to lay a wreath on the war memorial yards from the spot where the IRA bomb exploded in 1987.

His green laurel wreath laid on behalf of the Irish Government stood out among wreaths of red poppies. He did not wear a poppy.

The gesture came a year after a visit by the Queen to Ireland, the first by the British sovereign since independence.

During the visit, the Queen laid a wreath in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin to honour those Irish men and women who died fighting for Irish freedom from British rule.

Also on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore became the first Irish minister to attend a Remembrance Day service at Belfast City Hall, laying a wreath at the city's cenotaph.

Tens of thousands of Irish soldiers fought for Britain in both world wars, but they receive relatively little recognition in Ireland, which took advantage of World War One to fight British rule and remained neutral during World War Two.

With relations with Britain the warmest for decades, the Irish government in June pardoned thousands of servicemen who deserted to fight for the Allied forces during World War Two.

During more than 30 years of violence in Northern Ireland when more than 3,600 people died, the participation of an Irish leader in a Remembrance Day ceremony would have been unthinkable.

The violence was largely ended by the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 which set up a power-sharing administration between unionists, who want to maintain Northern Ireland's position in the United Kingdom, and nationalists, who aspire to a united Ireland.

(Reporting by Ian Graham and Conor Humphries; editing by Jason Webb)

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see
Comments (1)
DavidHill wrote:
The Unsung Heroes of our Great Country who in Reality Saved our Nation but where we have ‘Never’ really Recognized them or Celebrated them for saving us from the Tyranny of Nazi Domination

In this period of remembrance for all those who lost their lives and fought in two world wars we have to thank all those inventors who made possible victory in Europe. So much is said and rightly so, about the courage and sheer suffering that our boys (and girls) endured so that we won the two world wars but where the boys and women who behind the scenes made it possible are hardly ever mentioned by the media – the vital unsung heroes and without them we would now be under Nazi domination. In this respect if radar had not been invented we would not have won the war of the skies in 1940, as we would not have then had the advantage of surprise (and historians state that Germany would have taken over Britain). It was down to Robert Watson-Watt, the son of a carpenter and cabinet together with people like Arthur C. Clarke. If Barnes Wallis (the son of a GP) and inventor of the bouncing bomb, tall boy that sunk the Tirpitz and the larger earthquake bomb that destroyed underground Nazi communication systems prior to D-Day, the Normandy Landings may have very well been thwarted. If John Argyris, the unsung hero who made military aircraft far safer and fixed up to 85% of all structural faults in some of our military plane before D-Day, would we have won the air war over Europe allowing the allies to roam wherever they wished. Indeed without air-cover the war in Europe may very well have been lost. Argryis’s work has been hidden for years and where his work could have literally saved 100s of thousands of allied lives. Little know also is that Argryis’s uncle was Einstein’s mentor and in this respect he said of his mentor, “My mentor (Constantin Carathéodory [Karatheodoris] was an unrivalled Greek, to whom I, as well as mathematics, physics and the wisdom of our century owe everything.” Indeed, On December 19, 2005, Israeli officials along with Israel’s ambassador to Athens, Ram Aviram, presented the Greek foreign ministry with copies of 10 letters between Albert Einstein and Constantin Carathéodory [Karatheodoris] that suggest that the work of Carathéodory helped shape some of Albert Einstein’s theories. If it had not been for people like Alan Turing (a civil servant’s son and an average performing pupil at School) and his work at Bletchley Park, WW2 would have gone on for at least a further 3-years with the loss of hundreds of thousands of additional lives. These to name but only a few of our unsung heroes and where there is a multitude of inventors that without them we would certainly have lost the war in my humble opinion. It is therefore about time that this nation recognized all this and had an official day to celebrate our great inventors, engineer and scientists. For without them, we would be have gained little and most probably even been enslaved by what can only be described as an evil power, according to what we now know from history. They are therefore in reality the great protectors of our nation but where we always forget them and never thank them for saving us.

Dr David Hill
Chief Executive
World Innovation Foundation
Huddersfield, United Kingdom – Bern, Switzerland – Arlington, United States of America

Nov 12, 2012 10:40pm GMT  --  Report as abuse
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.