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Taoiseach to attend joint Messines Commemorations


The Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny, T.D., the Duke of Cambridge, and Princess Astrid of Belgium will jointly attend commemorations for the Battle of Messines Ridge in Belgium today. The visit marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the historic Battle, which was hugely symbolic as it was the first time that the 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) Divisions fought alongside each other during the First World War.

The Taoiseach will first visit the grave of Major William Redmond, M.P., in Locre. Following this, the Taoiseach will then join the Duke of Cambridge and Princess Astrid at the Island of Ireland Peace Park for a commemorative ceremony, jointly organised by the Irish and UK Governments, in partnership with the Mayor of Messines. The Park is a memorial to the 50,000 Irish war dead.

This commemorative event will include a wreath laying ceremony, readings by members of the Irish Defence Forces and British Army representatives as well as musical contributions by the Royal Band of the Belgian Navy. The Taoiseach, the Duke and Princess Astrid will lay wreaths at the Round Tower in the Park before meeting invited guests, including descendants of those who fought at the Battle. Following this ceremony, the Taoiseach, Duke of Cambridge and Princess Astrid will travel to Wytschaete Cemetery where over 1,000 servicemen of the First World War are buried or commemorated. Wreaths will be laid at the foot of the 16th Irish Division Memorial Cross and the Taoiseach and Duke will then meet and speak to family members of those buried in the Cemetery.

These joint ceremonies are an opportunity to remember all those who took part in the Battle and all those who lost their lives, to reflect on the journey of reconciliation in the century since and to highlight the positive relationship that exists on the island of Ireland and between Ireland and the United Kingdom.