The solidarity shown by southern firefighters to their northern counterparts during the Belfast Blitz was recognised at a ceremony on Friday.
Laserian Fallon is a Dublin firefighter of 31 years experience, and was among the guests to speak at the Northern Ireland War Memorial, where he presented the curator with a helmet used by the Dun Laoghaire brigade during the blitz period.
He has done historic research into the southern service, and is responsible for the Dublin brigade’s heritage projects.
“No fire service could have dealt with what Belfast had to deal with,” he said, speaking of the massive April 15/16 raid.
“They needed assistance.”
He estimated that Belfast had perhaps 30 fire engines at the time, and that Ireland had dispatched nine to join them.
“It was the first ‘hands across the border’. the first major engagement between the six county state and the 26 county state really,” he said.
Asked if the mutual aid helped with reconciliation, he said: “I think it did, because it was a recognition at government level of the strength of each others’ governments – from people who’d been at odds with each other, and didn’t really recognise each other to a large extent”.
He also said that it is believed by some that a Nazi raid against Dublin in May, which killed dozens of people, was a reprisal for aiding Belfast.
“It’s thought it was retaliatory; a ‘warning shot’ from the Germans,” he said.