Friday 29 November 2013

Progress made in arrangements for WW1 centenary

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan TD recently met with Northern Ireland Office Minister Andrew Robathan MP, and Ministry of Defence Minister Lord Astor to discuss the commemorative arrangements for the centenary of the First World War.

The Ministers discussed the developing British and Irish programmes for 2014-2018 with particular interest in the anniversaries to occur in 2014, including:

  • The entry into war on 4 August
  • The early experience of the War and the Battle of Mons
  • The ‘Christmas Truce’ and the special commemorative plans in Belgium

'The inseparable British and Irish military history of the First World War will be reflected in many of the commemorative events in the coming years and provide the basis of complementary and co-operative initiatives,' said Minister Deenihan. 'With the increased use of online presentations and close co-operation between our national cultural institutions, I am confident that we can engage a wide audience and enhance our understanding of that terrible conflict.'

The British Prime Minister recently announced that the programme of special memorial paving stones for those awarded the Victoria Cross during WW1 would be expanded to offer stones in respect of the more than 170 recipients who came from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, India, Ireland, Nepal, New Zealand, Pakistan, South Africa, Sri Lanka Ukraine and USA.

In response, Minister Deenihan said: 'The VC awards recognised acts of individual valour and distinction in conflict. The stories of the recipients – and indeed the personal stories of many other soldiers – will afford us insight into their experience and the conditions of war. The offer of memorial stones for the Irish VCs is appreciated and I will be interested to discuss with commemoration partners in Ireland how they might appropriately be incorporated in a monument.'

The British and Irish Ministers were pleased to note the agreement to mark the centenary of the First World War next year by erecting a monumental Cross beside the memorial walls for the World Wars at Glasnevin cemetery. The Cross will be provided by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and follows on a recent programme in which the Commission provided headstones for the graves of more than 200 servicemen at Glasnevin.

Welcoming the development, John Green, Chairman of Glasnevin Trust said: 'It is a privilege for Glasnevin Trust to be a part of remembering and honouring the 50,000 men from the Island of Ireland who fell in the Great War, so many of whom are interred in Glasnevin cemetery.'

The Director General of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission, Mr Alan Pateman-Jones, said: 'The Commonwealth War Graves Commission welcomes the opportunity to support this initiative to erect a Cross of Sacrifice in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, in remembrance of those who died during the two world wars.

'It will further strengthen the increasingly close relationship that exists between the Commission, the Irish Government and public and the Glasnevin Trust, all of whom have done so much to support our work of commemoration and remembrance in Ireland.'