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Min Flanagan first Irish Cabinet Minister to mark the Battle of the Somme anniversary in Belfast


Today in Belfast, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Charlie Flanagan, TD, will participate in the annual Somme commemoration ceremony at Belfast City Hall, the first Irish Cabinet Minister to do so.

Minister Flanagan’s participation in the ceremony marks the 99th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Somme on 1st July 1916. Minister Flanagan will lay a wreath at the Belfast Cenotaph in remembrance of all those who died at the Somme.

In advance of the event, Minister Flanagan said:

“I am honoured to represent the Irish Government at this important commemoration. While the Battle of the Somme has a particular resonance in Northern Ireland, it was a significant event for this island as a whole. Participating in commemorations creates an opportunity for greater understanding of and respect for all of the historical perspectives on this island. This, in turn, fosters reconciliation and helps to heal the divisions of the past.”

He added:

“Looking ahead to next year, the Irish Government will be formally marking the centenary of the Somme and remembering the loss of life of individuals from all parts of the island of Ireland at a State Ceremony in Dublin."

Over 3,500 soldiers from the island of Ireland were killed at the Somme, with many more fighting and injured. A formal State event to commemorate the centenary of the Battle of the Somme in 2016 is currently being developed by the Irish Government.

Press Office
1 July 2015

Notes for Editors:

• On 1st July 2015, Ireland’s Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, will represent the Government at commemorations at the Somme in France.

• This is the first time that a full Cabinet Minister will attend the ceremony in Belfast, at which the Government has been represented at Minister of State level since 2012.