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Northern Ireland VE Day: Northern Ireland to mark 75th anniversary


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Northern Ireland VE Day: Northern Ireland to mark 75th anniversary

Image copyright Reuters Image caption Belfast City Hall was lit up on Friday night to mark the day fighting against the Nazis came to an end Commemorations in NI have been held to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.Church bells rang out, while both Belfast’s City Hall and Enniskillen Castle were illuminated to mark…

Northern Ireland VE Day: Northern Ireland to mark 75th anniversary

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland Belfast City Hall is illuminated on the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 8 May 2020Image copyright
Reuters

Image caption

Belfast City Hall was lit up on Friday night to mark the day fighting against the Nazis came to an end

Commemorations in NI have been held to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day.

Church bells rang out, while both Belfast’s City Hall and Enniskillen Castle were illuminated to mark the anniversary.

The majority of commemorations, though, took place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Victory in Europe Day marks the day fighting against the Nazis came to an end.

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Media captionVE Day in Belfast: Rare footage shows crowds lining Royal Avenue

Official commemorations began at 11:00 BST with a national moment of remembrance and a two-minute silence.

The leaders of Northern Ireland’s four main Christian churches asked people to remember the “great cost of peace”.

In a joint statement, the heads of the Church of Ireland, Methodist Church, Catholic and Presbyterian Churches said World War Two “had brought immense pain and suffering with millions of lives destroyed”.

Image copyright
PA Media

Image caption

The Red Arrows left their trademark red, white and blue trails as they soared over London

“We must not forget that VE Day was not a day of rejoicing for everyone” said the Church leaders.

“For those who lost loved ones in the conflict it had more sombre undertones as they mourned the death of their nearest and dearest.”

The statement was issued by Presbyterian Moderator Reverend William Henry, Catholic Primate of All-Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin, Church of Ireland Archbishop Reverend John McDowell, Methodist Church President Reverend Sam McGuffin and Reverend Ivan Patterson of the Irish Council of Churches.

The pandemic has changed how the end of fighting in Europe is being remembered.

In Belfast, planned events had included a concert at Belfast’s St Anne’s Cathedral and an afternoon tea for veterans in City Hall.

But events moved online as organisers encouraged people to mark the occasion in their own homes.

“Belfast City Council wishes to recognise the service of veterans in the Second World War, particularly those who hailed from Belfast, and all those who contributed to the efforts in bringing about peace,” said a council spokesman.

A video message from 100-year-old World War Two veteran Teddy Dixon was broadcast on Belfast City Council’s social media platforms.

Fionnuala Jay-O’Boyle, Lord-Lieutenant for the County Borough of Belfast, , also recorded a VE Day message that was shared by Belfast City Council.

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Image caption

Harry McMullan broadcasts for the BBC in Belfast on VE Day, 70 years ago

Enniskillen Castle was lit in red by Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, while two beams of light will also be projected into the night sky over Enniskillen each night until Sunday to form a symbolic ‘V’ sign representing a beacon of hope.

On Thursday evening, a World War Two siren was sounded during the “clap for carers”.

Likewise in North Down, a World War Two siren sounded to remember the dead, while in Londonderry the city’s role during the war years is being remembered in a new online collection on the Tower Museum’s website.

Mid and East Antrim Council asked people to “join in the wartime spirit and decorate their homes – and themselves – in 1945 Garden Party style, all while following the public health rules on social distancing of course”.

UK-wide events on Friday included a public sing-along of Dame Vera Lynn’s We’ll Meet Again, a song synonymous with World War Two.

Image copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Prime Minister Winston Churchill stands on the balcony of Buckingham Palace alongside the Royal Family (with the Queen, then Princess Elizabeth, on the left) on 8 May 1945

The Queen commemorated the 75th anniversary with a televised address to the nation broadcast on the BBC at 21:00 BST – the exact moment her father, King George VI, gave a radio address 75 years ago.

She praised the UK’s response to the coronavirus epidemic, which she said had filled empty streets with “love”.

The UK government had moved the traditional early May bank holiday from Monday to Friday 8 May to allow celebrations to take place.

The BBC is gathering thoughts and recollections about VE Day – you can send them to us on our Share Your VE Day Memories page.

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