Northern Ireland pauses to reflect on Armistice Day

A two-minute silence has been held as a mark of remembrance right across Northern Ireland to remember the moment 103 years ago when the fighting of World War One ended.

One of the largest gatherings took place at Belfast City Hall led by the Royal British Legion (RBL) where the Deputy Lord Mayor Tom Haire and High Sheriff Michael Long were part of a delegation at the Garden of Remembrance.

A crowd gathered in the grounds as the Last Post was played before a two-minute silence was observed at 11am.

The silence observed on Armistice Day marks the end of the four-year conflict in 1918 where an agreement between Germany and the Allies was made “on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month”.

More than 1,000 crosses and commemorative markers were planted in Donegall Square, each carrying a personal message to someone that had lost their life in military service.

They pay tribute to those who lost their lives in conflicts from the First World War to the present day, with a special recognition of those who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Last year’s event was disrupted due to the pandemic and NI district chairman of the Royal British Legion, John Stewart, said yesterday’s ceremony was even more poignant as a result.

As part of the 45-minute ceremony, prayers were led by the RBL Chaplain, Reverend Canon Samuel McVeigh, with the first memory cross placed by Her Majesty’s Deputy Lieutenant Dr Nigel Carr.

The field will be open to members of the public to visit and pay their respects until November 14.

Representatives of the Orange Institution gathered in the Memorial Garden at Schomberg House, Belfast, to pay their respects with their own annual wreath-laying event, which is organised in partnership with Thiepval Memorial Lodge LOL 1916.

It included a short parade and was attended by dozens of Brethren from across the jurisdiction of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland.

Grand Master Edward Stevenson laid a wreath on behalf of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland during a service conducted by Grand Chaplain, Rev Alistair Smyth.

Wreaths were also laid on behalf of the Junior Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, The Association of Loyal Orangewomen of Ireland, Thiepval Memorial LOL 1916, and Cregagh Defenders LOL 1588.

In a separate ceremony, a wreath was laid at the Memorial Window by Mrs Joan Farrell, a UDR widow, in memory of the 338 Orange Order members murdered during the Troubles.

Jay-O’Boyle, British ambassador to Ireland Paul Johnson as well as the French, Canadian and German ambassadors.

The DUP and UUP took part in acts of remembrance at Stormont. First Minister Paul Givan, accompanied by the party’s deputy leader Paula Bradley and MLA Christopher Stalford, laid a wreath. UUP MLA and veteran Andy Allen, accompanied by MLAs John Stewart and Roy Beggs also laid a wreath.

At PSNI headquarters, Chief Constable Simon Byrne attended an act of remembrance at the RUC GC Memorial Garden.

The Belfast Field of Remembrance is one of six across the UK.

It follows a tradition that began in 1928 when poppies were planted around an original wooden cross, taken from the battlefield grave of an unknown soldier, located in the grounds of Westminster Abbey.

Additional Fields of Remembrance across the country are located in London, Cardiff, Gateshead, Staffordshire and Swindon.

Remembrance Sunday will take place on November 14.

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