Cameron, Kenny tour WWI sites, deepening Anglo-Irish ties
SHOTLIST: YPRES, BELGIUM, 19 DECEMBER 2013, SOURCE: AFPTV - VAR of British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Irish counterpart Enda Kenny /// -------------------------------------------------------- AFP TEXT STORY Britain-Ireland-diplomacy-history-WWI Cameron, Kenny tour WWI sites, deepening Anglo-Irish ties =(PICTURE+VIDEO)= YPRES, Belgium, Dec 19, 2013 (AFP) - British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Irish counterpart Enda Kenny toured World War I sites in Belgium on Thursday, deepening ties in remembrance of Irish soldiers who fought alongside Britons at the height of the Dublin insurrection. The visit to the former Western Front in the Flanders region included a stop at the Island of Ireland Peace Park at Messines, a memorial to 50,000 Irish war dead. The memorial lies close to the site of the June 1917 battle for the Messines Ridge, and was picked because it was one of the few in which Irishmen fought against a common enemy in British uniforms. "The joint visit, where both leaders will pay their respects to those who gave their lives in World War I, represents another key milestone in the deepening of British-Irish relations," said Kenny's office in a statement. During the trip, Cameron also marked the death of his great-great-uncle, Captain John Geddes, who died in 1915 at the battle of Ypres in Flanders. He wrote in the Daily Telegraph that he wanted future generations to learn about the war. "Like many across Britain, I feel a strong connection with all the members of my family who gave their lives in the war," he wrote. "I look at those fast-fading sepia photographs and see them posing stiffly and proudly in their uniforms. I imagine how they felt going off to war, and the fear and horror of what they went through, and I reflect on their bravery and selfless determination. "This means a great deal to me and I want my children to feel the same way." The Irishmen who fought in World War I were ignored for decades due to deep unease over them serving in British uniform while Ireland's independence struggle raged. They only began to be recognised in the Republic of Ireland in recent years, after Britain's Queen Elizabeth II put Anglo-Irish relations on a new footing in a groundbreaking trip to Ireland in May 2011. The visit was the first to Ireland by a British monarch since her grandfather's King George V in 1911, before the republic in 1922 won independence from Britain. Irish republicans seeking an end to British rule rebelled in 1916, in what is known as the Easter Rising. British forces brutally suppressed the insurrection and executed several of the leaders, turning public opinion. Shortly after the end of World War I in which 886,000 British troops died, the Irish War of Independence began. hmn/ccr/mfp
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