Ulster Unionist Councillor Alexander Redpath has said it was “an enormous privilege” to represent Lisburn and Castlereagh at last week’s special commemoration to mark the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Messines.
The Killultagh representative was among a number of elected members from councils across Northern Ireland who travelled to Belgium for the event at the Island of Ireland Peace Park in Messines, Flanders on June 7.
The commemoration was organised by the UK Government and the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs to honour the men from across Ireland who fought side by side in the bloody First World War battle.
Among those who gathered to pay tribute to the brave men of the 36th Ulster and 16th Irish divisions were HRH the Duke of Cambridge, Irish premier Enda Kenny TD and Princess Astrid of Belgium.
“It was an enormous privilege to represent the residents of Lisburn and Castlereagh at the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Messines,” Cllr Redpath said. “I had the opportunity to lay a wreath on behalf of the council as a mark of respect to those who fought and died in the series of battles around the Messines Ridge.”
He added: “This was a particularly poignant commemoration as it marked the first time that the 36th Ulster Division and the 16th Irish Division fought side by side. These two divisions were made up of men from opposite sides of the Home Rule Crisis who were able to put aside their differences and unite behind a common cause.
“There is much to be learnt from their joint sacrifice and I hope that lessons can be taken from it that have great importance today.”