Marking a century since one of the worst horrors in history

Morning View
Morning View

The 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War, one of the most calamitous conflicts in human history, was marked around the world yesterday.

From the Armistice Day ceremony in Dublin to the German president wearing a poppy at London’s cenotaph to events in the US or at France’s battlefields and elsewhere, the millions of fallen were remembered.

Across Northern Ireland, notable commemorations included Lisburn and Enniskillen, the latter attended by the DUP leader and former first minster Arlene Foster. But the hour-long event in Northern Ireland’s capital city, Belfast, reflected the international scale of the 1914-18 carnage.

The service was attended by the Secretary of State, Karen Bradley and the defence minister Tobias Ellwood, and Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister, Simon Coveney, wearing a poppy symbol within a shamrock, his presence a reminder of the tens of thousands of Irish dead.

America was represented by its consul general, Elizabeth Kennedy Trudeau, India by a businessman who worked through our Troubles, Lord Rana. Other honorary consuls present included Dr Tom Kelly OBE for Malta, and Madame R McCullough for France. A large SDLP contingent was among political parties at the cenotaph within the grounds of Belfast City Hall on a damp and chilly, but bright November morning, 100 years after the moment when the guns fell silent.

The First World War was a deep wound in Ulster, given that so many young volunteer soldiers died, including a horrendous toll on July 1 1916, the first day of the Somme.

So many people in Belfast wanted to pay their respects yesterday that there was no room for them all in the grounds of City Hall and they crowded on to the streets.

People know that the current grave polarisation at home and abroad does not compare with the horror of 1914 -1918, nor has anything done since World War II ended 73 years ago.

We remember the dead, and if we also remember the reasons for the wars that caused their deaths, it is possible nothing like it will happen again.