Varadkar salutes WWI Irish dead in Paris

Leo Varadkar. photo


By Anthony Neeson

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar joined over 70 heads of state in Paris on Sunday for the one hundredth anniversary of the ending to the First World War.

The taoiseach said he was “honored” to represent Ireland at the centenary commemorations. Over 200,000 Irishmen fought in the four year conflict. It’s believed that 35,000 men died from all over the island.

“Tens of thousands of Irishmen, many of them only in their teens, were killed,” he said.

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“Those who did survive returned to a changed Ireland, unable to share their horrific experiences. Through the Decade of Centenaries, their stories have been shared and we have rightly honoured the enormous sacrifice made by those who went to the front.

“In the words of Thomas Kettle, we honor those who ‘Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor – But for a dream, born in a herdsman’s shed, And for the secret Scripture of the poor.’

“The anniversary of the Armistice serves as a stark reminder of the importance of European and international cooperation.

“As we face new challenges in the 21st Century, we need to work together to achieve peace, stability and prosperity across the world.

“Through our committed and active membership of the EU and the UN, Ireland will continued to play a leading role in these efforts.”

Tánaiste Simon Coveney took part in a commemoration at Belfast City Hall, laying a wreath of green laurels.

Speaking before the ceremony, Mr. Coveney, said: “For the island of Ireland, the decade of centenaries of events that shaped our modern history continues.

“We will again have to rise to the challenge of remembering those events in our shared history in a way that is authentic and honest and rigorous and respectful of others.”