Villiers hails the bravery of Irish soldiers

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers during the Commemoration of the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Thiepval Memorial in Thiepval, France, on July 1
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers during the Commemoration of the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Thiepval Memorial in Thiepval, France, on July 1

The Secretary of State Theresa Villiers is set to represent the UK Government at the Republic of Ireland’s Battle of the Somme Commemoration.

It will take place at the Irish National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge, Dublin, at around noon on Saturday.

Ms Villiers will join the Taoiseach Enda Kenny and senior Irish government representatives at a ceremony which is described as commemorating “all those British and Irish soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice on the battlefields of the Somme in 1916”.

British Ambassador Dominick Chilcott and the UK defence attache Colonel Max Walker will also be present.

Speaking in advance of the commemoration, Ms Villiers said: “I am honored to represent the UK Government at this very special ceremony this morning.

“During my tenure as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, I have had the privilege of attending a number of Somme commemorations in France, most recently last Friday when we marked the 100th anniversary of the first day of the Battle of the Somme.

“Tens of thousands of men from Ireland volunteered to fight in the Great War and gave their lives serving in the uniform of the British Army.

“So it is fitting that the Irish Government have ensured that those brave men are now being remembered for the part they played.

“In particular we commemorate today all those from the 16th Irish Division who sustained an agonising 4,300 casualties in successfully capturing Guillemont and Ginchy in September 1916.

“Just as in Great Britain, so across the island of Ireland there was virtually no corner left unaffected by the Battle of the Somme.

“The contribution and sacrifice of the men who fought in the battle was immense, and we should never forget it.”