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Project Update – A Strong Voice for Veterans

Project Update – A Strong Voice for Veterans

Project Update – A Strong Voice for Veterans

Photos by John O’Byrne

For many veterans’ life after leaving the armed forces is challenging. Ensuring that all veterans receive the support and care they deserve is also a challenge. On the island of Ireland there are an estimated 150,000 and 20,000 British Armed Forces (Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy) veterans in Northern Ireland and the Rep. of Ireland respectively. As one of the commitments made in the New Decade New Approach political agreement, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, appointed Danny Kinahan as Northern Ireland’s first Veterans’ Commissioner.

The appointment of a Veterans Commissioner ensures that there is representation and a safe voice for veterans who often feel they have been forgotten, and have been largely underrepresented as a community for years. Danny and his team have been engaging with veterans’ charities on the island of Ireland with a clear message that there is help for veterans who need it. Over the past three months we have been working on a multimedia project with the Northern Ireland Veterans Commissioner’s Office (NIVCO). The purpose of this project is to highlight the NIVCO and the services they provide, while at the same time showcasing several of the veterans’ charities and the work they do on the island of Ireland. Some of these charities include: The Royal British Legion (Northern Ireland and Rep. of Ireland); The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA); The Not Forgotten Association; Decorum NI; and the UDR Regimental Association. As part of a North/South engagement the NIVCO team also met with the Irish Defence Forces veterans support charity The Organisation of National Ex-Personnel. The uniform may be different but the challenges are the same, collaboration and supporting one another is the solution. Each of these charities are unique and offer a variety of supports from welfare to outreach, drop-in centres and remembrance. SSAFA for example is the oldest veterans’ organisation. Founded in 1885, it provides lifelong support to serving men and women and veterans from the British Armed Forces and their families or dependents.

A new charity for our team is Decorum NI. It was a real pleasure to meet this group at their garden plots outside Bangor. Decorum NI helps combat isolation through a variety of ways including: alternative therapies, counselling, training, educational courses, sign posting to educational progression, and welfare advice. We are looking forward to meeting them again in the near future.

NI Veterans’ Commissioner Danny Kinahan with members of Decorum NI at their garden plots outside Bangor.

For a full list of supports and services available please visit: www.nivco.co.uk/where-to-get-help/

We will be updating you as this project develops.

Thank you to The Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, and the NI Veterans Commissioner’s Office. for their support.

Posted in: Irish Veterans, Northern Ireland, The Royal British Legioni, Veteran's Welfare

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International Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day

International Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day

International Commemoration of the 75th Anniversary of VJ Day

Pipers, Buglers, Trumpeters, Cornet Players, Town Criers and Churches around the world took part in the important commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Victory over Japan Day, better known as VJ Day: the day the war not only ended in the Pacific, but also the day the Second World War ended. Organised by Pagentmaster Bruno Peek LVO OBE OPR and his dedicated team, the celebrations ensured this anniversary was commemorated. The past and present veterans of VJ Days along with their families will never be forgotten, even in the difficult times the world is currently going through due to the virus affecting us all.

Bruno Peek said: ;While we must remember and commemorate those who gave their lives or were gravely wounded during years of war, I believe VJ Day 75 is also an opportunity to celebrate the peace that came to us all at the end of the Far East campaign and of WW II.
VJ Veterans and families have always felt they were the ‘forgotten army’ so I felt it important we let them know, and show them, that they are not and never will be forgotten,’.

Commemorations Worldwide

As the day dawned around the world, hundreds of Pipers will played Battle’s O’er, from safe locations of their choice. This traditional march played at the end of a battle officially started VJ Day commemorations. The first pipes sounded in New Zealand and ended 22 hours later across the Pacific on the Island of O’ahu, Hawaii. The pipes rang out on the hour as the clock strikes 06:00am local time from Nepal to Brazil and Ireland to South Africa. Aligning with national events in Australia, pipers there were asked to pipe at memorials at 09:30. Two pipers played at the highest war memorial in England, the summit of Scafell Pike. Pipers Robert R. Procter – lead piper of VJ Day 75 and Corporal Robert Cunningham, Royal Marines, with the generous support from Lakeland Mountain Guides, headed up Scafell Pike through the night to arrive at the top just before the sunrises when the time the pipes sounded across these islands.

At 10:58am around the United Kingdom, Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and Ireland hundreds of buglers, trumpeters and cornet players played the Last Post from safe locations of their choice. This concluded with a two-minute silence at 11:00am, a wreath laying and Reveille.

At 11:10 75 Town Criers, one for each of the 75 years since VJ Day will undertook the ‘Cry for Peace Around the World’ from safe locations of their choice in memory of the millions of those at home and abroad that lost and gave so much to enable us to share and enjoy the freedom we have today. This was followed by the ringing of the ‘Cry for Peace’ from church bells.

The day of remembrance was concluded at 20:18pm with the sounding of ‘Sunset’.

Commemorations in Ireland

The Irish contribution to VJ Day 75 was devised and planned by the Royal British Legion Republic of Ireland. Brian Duffy, Chairman of the Royal British Legion in the Republic of Ireland, said: ‘Many thousands of Irish men and women fought with the Allies in WW II, including in the Far East so it’s both wonderful and right that we here in Ireland contribute to the commemoration and celebration of VJ Day 75 being embraced by so many around the world’.

Commemorations in Ireland centered around the Irish War Memorial Gardens Islandbridge, Dublin. At 06:00am piper Anthony Byrne of the Royal British Legion played from the Great Cross while a piper of the 2nd Battalion Royal Irish Regiment played at Hillsborough Castle in Northern Ireland.
Following the two minute silence and Northern Ireland Chairman John Stewart recited the Kohima Epitaph, which in turn was followed by the ‘Cry for Peace Around the World’ by Ciaran Crone: ‘Éistigí! éistigí! éistigí’. The VJ 75 peal from Ireland’s National Cathedral of St. Patrick’s in Dublin commenced at 11.12am.

Sunset at Islandbridge: Bugler Bill Powderly, Standard Bearer Geoff Barry and Chairman Brian Duffy. (Photograph by Wesley Bourke)

That evening ‘Sunset’ was sounded by Bill Powderly.

Posted in: Irish National War Memorial Gardens Islandbridge, Office of Public Works, Remembrance, Second World War, The Royal British Legioni, Victory in Japan Day, World War Two

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Annual Remembrance Ceremony at Granegorman

Annual Remembrance Ceremony at Granegorman

Photographs by Ken Mooney

Dignitaries, members of the Irish Defence Forces, veterans, family, and members of the public turned out in the rain today at Grangegorman Military Cemetery to remember those who served and lost their lives during the Great War. The annual remembrance event is co-hosted by the OPW and Claddagh Branch Royal British Legion (RoI). The colour guard was provided by members of the Prison Service. The British Ambassador to Ireland Robin Barnett CMG laid a wreath.

Posted in: Armistice Day, British Army, Royal Irish Regiment, The Great War, The Royal British Legioni

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