It is important for people “on both sides of the Irish border” to mark the sacrifice of “tens of thousands of young men who died during World War One”, the NI Conservatives said last night.
Spokesman Mark Brotherston said: “The impact of this global war on countries right across Europe was enormous and, on the island of Ireland, we have every reason to recognise the sacrifice of the fallen and remember the lessons of the conflict. Almost 50,000 young men, from either side of what became the Irish border, died during World War One.”
Today the Secretary of State will attend a ceremony at Glasnevin Cemetery with the president of the Republic of Ireland and the Duke of Kent, he added.
“Volunteers across the British Isles joined up in 1914 to prevent domination of the continent of Europe, as well as for reasons which were local and personal,” Mr Brotherston said.
“They fought for their friends and colleagues, as well as for their country, the loved ones they’d left at home, and sometimes because they had particular political aspirations.”
Alliance East Belfast MLA Chris Lyttle added that people “from all backgrounds across these islands took part in the conflict and it is important that respectful commemorations take place”.
In particular, he welcomed the “continued growth” in commemorations in Dublin, with President Higgins recently unveiling the first Cross of Sacrifice in the Republic of Ireland.
Meanwhile, relatives of those who served in the war last night planted 244 memorial crosses in Killyleagh Castle Square. Pipe Major Richard Pares played, Army Cadets marched and local teenagers were in 36th Ulster Division uniforms to provide a guard of honour.
The candle of remembrance was extinguished at 11pm.