Speaker to participate in event to mark Battle of Messines

Session: 2014/2015

Date: 02 June 2015

Reference: SO 10/14/15

The Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mitchel McLaughlin, has accepted an invitation to participate in an event at the Cenotaph in Derry/ Londonderry on Sunday 7th June to commemorate the 98th anniversary of the Battle of Messines. The parade is organised by the International School for Peace Studies.

Commenting on the event, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Mitchel McLaughlin, said: "Soon after taking office, I made clear that a key part of the independent and impartial role of Speaker was to give a lead in ensuring that the Assembly respects all of the communities it represents. In my speech for St Patrick's Day, I also recognised that demonstrating respect was particularly important in acts of remembrance of our shared history.

"Thousands of young men of the Unionist and the Nationalist traditions, who would join different sides when they returned home, first fought together on the battlefields of Europe. We should remember their sacrifice and, in doing so, challenge our own collective thinking within nationalism and unionism about the context of later events and the divisions that opened up then and continue to this day.

"The approach taken by the International School for Peace Studies towards commemorating the Battle of Messines has made a positive contribution to how our shared history is remembered. Such initiatives are deserving of support by Members on all sides of the Assembly Chamber and it would be my intention throughout my period in office to support those who are working to respect our history in a way which increases understanding and avoids confrontation."