In an historic first, Prime Minister Enda Kenny and Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore both took part in this year’s Remembrance Day services. Kenny paid homage by laying a wreath of laurels in Enniskillen, while Gilmore was on hand in Belfast for the ceremonies.
Remembrance Day is the annual memorial day in the British Commonwealth that pays honor to those who perished during wartime in the 20th and 21st centuries. It also marks the end of hostilities endured during World War I, where approximately 35,000 Irishmen died.
This year’s participation by the Taoiseach and Tanaiste in Remembrance Day is a historic first, and an indication of the evolving relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the UK.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny took part in services in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the IRA bombing there that left 11 people dead. On November 8, 1987, a bomb exploded in Enniskillen that injured 63 people and killed another 11.
At the services, Kenny laid a green wreath of laurels with a card that read “In Remembrance from the Government of Ireland.”
Hundreds of people gathered at the memorial in Enniskillen to pay their respects this year. The Taoiseach reportedly met and spoke with the victims’ families during his Sunday visit.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore was on hand in Belfast on Sunday as well to offer his respects. There, he laid a wreath at the cenotaph at Belfast’s City Hall.
BBC reports that in January of this year, Belfast City Council and the Royal British Legion, who jointly organized the Belfast ceremonies for Remembrance Day, passed a resolution to formally invite Irish representatives to take part in the commemorations.
The joint show of respects from the Irish heads of state comes just eighteen months after Queen Elizabeth II made her historic visit to the Republic of Ireland, making her the first ever British monarch to do so since Ireland declared its independence. During her visit, the Queen laid a wreath in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin honoring Irish soldiers that were killed during the war for freedom.