In first, Irish PM lays wreath for British war dead

Sun Nov 11, 2012 12:28pm EST
 
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By Ian Graham

BELFAST (Reuters) - Ireland's prime minister laid a wreath to honor fallen soldiers at a British Remembrance Day service for the first time on Sunday, the latest gesture of reconciliation between historic foes.

Annual Remembrance Day services to honor Britain's war dead and the wearing of the traditional poppy are controversial in Ireland because of abuses committed by soldiers in Northern Ireland and during British rule in Ireland before independence.

Enda Kenny took part in a service in Enniskillen in Northern Ireland on the 25th anniversary of the Irish Republican Army bombing of a Remembrance Day service in the town that killed 12 people, one of the worst atrocities of three decades of sectarian violence.

He stood head bowed during two minutes of silence before taking his turn to lay a wreath on the war memorial yards from the spot where the IRA bomb exploded in 1987.

His green laurel wreath laid on behalf of the Irish Government stood out among wreaths of red poppies. He did not wear a poppy.

The gesture came a year after a visit by Queen Elizabeth to Ireland, the first by the British sovereign since independence.

During the visit, the Queen laid a wreath in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin to honor those Irish men and women who died fighting for Irish freedom from British rule.

Also on Sunday, Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore became the first Irish minister to attend a Remembrance Day service at Belfast City Hall, laying a wreath at the city's cenotaph.   Continued...

 
Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny holds a news conference at the end of a European Union leaders summit in Brussels October 19, 2012. REUTERS/Sebastien Pirlet