Remembrance Success Despite Alert

As thousands of fallen Irish soldiers were honoured this past weekend at a cross-border commemoration service in the Irish Republic, within hours, a security operation was underway at a similar event across the border in Northern Ireland.

While the union flag was being peacefully displayed on Saturday alongside the Irish Republic’s tricolour at the Boyne-side event to honour fallen British soldiers, in Co Londonderry a planned remembrance service was being disrupted.

The Remembrance Day parade in Northern Ireland was first postponed then cancelled after police received information that a device may have been left in the Londonderry village of Bellaghy on Sunday.

Worried about a repeat of the infamous IRA Poppy Day bombing in 1987 that killed 11 people and injured 63 in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh at the town’s Cenotaph - where people had gathered to pay their respects to the war dead - the Co Londonderry event was eventually called off completely.

Last night, the local Branch Secretary of the Royal British Legion in the Bellaghy area, Jim Wilson, said he was "very disappointed" with the cancellation.

According to the BBC, Mr Wilson said he could not understand why anyone would want to disrupt the parade which was due to take place earlier on Sunday: "When you plan something like this you want to see it going ahead and being completed and to remember what the idea is behind it.

"Past conflict and every conflict involves all of the community and I think it's a big disappointment."

The drama came just hours after the Irish ONE ex-service group joined with the Royal British Legion - alongside ordinary people from both sides of the border - to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and pay tribute to the war dead at one of only two such all-Ireland remembrance events on the island - peacefully - in the Republic of Ireland.

More than 200 people attended the interdenominational service at the Mary Street Cenotaph in Drogheda, Co Louth, and recalled the sacrifice of thousands who joined the British forces to fight in the First and Second World Wars and gave their lives in the service of others.

Malachy Godfrey, Chairman of the Slane Branch of the Organisation of National Exservicemen, (ONE) laid a tricolour wreath (pictured) and with all the others from both communities, stood in silence as the traditional two-minute silence was observed.

They were recalling soldiers such as Lieutenant Emerson, from the Louth town, who received a Victoria Cross for his bravery in the bloody fields of France in the First World War – an accolade that is recorded in the memorabilia of a leading Co Antrim Royal British Legion which displays a framed photograph of the late hero soldier.

Thanks to a visit to Whiteabbey Royal British Legion by Co Louth historian and former Mayor of Drogheda, Sean Collins, the ex-servicemen and women from the seaside village of Whiteabbey now join their opposite numbers in Co Louth to commemorate the war dead in Drogheda on an annual basis.

Meanwhile, as the Bellaghy alert was being cleared, the PSNI said nothing was found during separate searches in Loughgall, Co Armagh, following claims of a suspicious device in the Ballyhagan Road area, also yesterday.


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