In first, Irish PM lays wreath for British war dead

BELFAST Sun Nov 11, 2012 8:01pm IST

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/Files

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/Files

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 Queen Elizabeth 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)

FILED UNDER:

WORLD NEWS

A relative of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh, who was captured by Islamic State after his plane crashed in northeastern Syria in December during a bombing mission against them, holds a picture of him at the family's headquarters in the city of Karak January 29, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmad Abdo

Jordan still holding prisoner demanded by Islamic State as deadline passes

Jordan said on Thursday it was still holding an Iraqi would-be suicide bomber as a deadline passed for her release set by Islamic State militants who threatened to kill a Jordanian pilot unless she was handed over by sunset.  Full Article 

Reuters Showcase

MH370 an "Accident"

MH370 an "Accident"

Malaysia declares MH370 an "accident", airline to proceed with compensation.  Full Article 

Uber Case

Uber Case

Delhi Uber passenger who alleges driver rape sues in U.S.  Full Article 

Vodafone Tax Issue

Vodafone Tax Issue

India's Vodafone decision eases tax worries for Shell, others  Full Article 

Hostage Crisis

Hostage Crisis

Jordan still holding prisoner demanded by Islamic State as deadline passes.  Full Article 

Cricket World Cup

Cricket World Cup

Batting holds key for team India in World Cup  Full Article 

Egypt Attack

Egypt Attack

Islamic State's Egypt wing claims attacks that killed 27 - official Twitter.  Full Article 

Afghanistan Violence

Afghanistan Violence

Three U.S. contractors killed in "insider attack" in Afghan capital.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage