• Joint ireland-uk ceremony.

To mark the centenary of the Battle of Messines, the Irish and UK governments delivered a joint commemoration at the Island of Ireland Peace Park in Belgium.

The Battle has considerable historic and symbolic significance for the UK and Ireland, as Messines was the first time that the 36th (Ulster) and 16th (Irish) Divisions fought alongside each other during the First World War.

The uniquely shared nature of the commemoration meant a complex planning process, but resulted in a truly joint and moving ceremony attended by the Taoiseach, the Duke of Cambridge, and Princess Astrid of Belgium.

In an audience of almost 800 people, political representatives from Ireland and the UK, sat alongside British and Belgian royals, Irish church leaders, senior military officers, civil society representatives and relatives of many of those from the island of Ireland who had fought and died in the Battle.

What worked well and what, if anything, didn't?

Given that the Peace Park is a memorial to those from the three volunteer divisions raised in Ireland and is intended to honour them by promoting peace and reconciliation, it is hugely significant and symbolic that the two governments worked together to deliver a shared commemoration.

Although we have attended events together in the past, this was the first time that the UK and Irish Governments have designed and delivered a truly joint commemorative event, supported by a diverse group of partners and by both the Irish Defence Forces and 2 Battalion, the Royal Irish Regiment. 

Throughout this project we referred to the CRC/HLF principles for remembering in public space for marking anniversarieswhich provided excellent guidance for all commemoration activity.

Further Information

Submitted by Northern Ireland Office/Department for Foreign Affairs and Trade