Lisburn and Castlereagh City Councillor, Robbie Butler, has urged everyone in the local community to stage as many Battle of the Somme centenary commemorations as possible throughout this anniversary year.
July 2016 marks the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in the First World War, in which thousands of Ulstermen, including many from the Lisburn area, died.
To commemorate the centenary, Mr Butler is encouraging everyone in the Lisburn area and surrounding villages to hold events to mark the occasion.
“Our constituency has a rich history and heritage with this terrible battle in which thousands of soldiers from across Ireland fought, were wounded and sadly died,” said Mr Butler.
“This year marks the centenary of this battle, which traditionally we only tend to mark on the Somme’s opening day – July 1.
“However, I am calling on hamlets, villages and towns throughout our constituency as well as Lisburn city to research and remember soldiers from those communities who served at the Somme, which lasted for many weeks beyond that fateful opening day in July 1916.
“Where no permanent memorial exists, I would like to see some kind of lasting tribute to the soldiers of the Somme. And, of course, we should not forget the women who served as nurses tending the wounded and dying as the battle progressed.
“I encourage schools from across the community to research and study the Somme battle as part of their curriculum.
“During that bloody battle, the German machine-gunners, snipers or artillery did not distinguish between Protestants and Catholics, Irish Nationalists or Unionists – all were wounded and killed side by side.
“By making the Somme centenary commemoration a year-long event throughout 2016, we will be ensuring that the service and sacrifice of so many in that battle will never be forgotten by today’s generation,”