Minister McGinley to attend First World War Commemorations
Friday, 27 June, 2014: The Minister of State at the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Dinny McGinley T.D. will visit Belgium on Monday 30th June 2014 in the context of the upcoming centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Minister McGinley’s itinerary will centre on the upcoming commemoration of the First World War in Belgium, and the involvement of Irish soldiers in this conflict.
Items on Minister McGinley’s agenda include a visit to the newly opened 14-18 Exhibition in the Cinquantenaire Military History Museum in Brussels, meetings with senior Belgian Commemoration officials, and visits to the Messines Museum, the Island of Ireland Peace Park in Messines, and the Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres where Minister McGinley will view the original Irish First World War Memorial Records. Minister McGinley will also attend the Last Post Ceremony and lay a wreath at the Menin Gate, where soldiers whose graves are unknown are remembered.
Following his engagements in Belgium, Minister McGinley will travel directly to France where he will visit the Thiepval Memorial, which overlooks the Somme battlefield, for a ceremony which remembers the 72,000 commonwealth soldiers who died in the Battle of the Somme. He will then proceed to the Ulster Tower which commemorates the heavy losses suffered by 36th (Ulster) Division on 1 July 1916, the first day of the Battle of the Somme. The final ceremony at Guillemont commemorates the victories and the losses suffered by the 16th (Irish) Division.
Speaking in advance of the visit, Minister McGinley said:
'It is a great privilege for me to represent the Irish Government at these Commemoration Ceremonies in the centenary year of the outbreak of World War One. It is estimated that upwards of 200,000 Irishmen served in the First World War, with 50,000 of them giving their lives. These figures are staggering and it can be difficult sometimes to grasp the enormity of their sacrifice. It is right that we honour them and these ceremonies provide an appropriate opportunity to reflect on their sacrifice."