The Republic of Ireland’s annual National Day of Commemoration remembers Irishmen and women who lost their lives in past wars, or on service with the Irish Defence Forces with the United Nations.
The date set for each National Day of Commemoration is the Sunday nearest to 11th July - the anniversary of the date in 1921 when a truce was signed ending the Irish War of Independence. The ceremony first took place in 1986.
Having taken part at the annual commemoration of the Battle of the Somme at Belfast City Hall last Saturday, Dr. McNeely represented the Church alongside the new Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar TD, other members of the Irish Government and members of the Oireachtas, civic representatives, ambassadors, former and serving members of the Irish Defence Forces, their families and other religious leaders. Following the laying of a wreath by the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, a minute’s silence was observed.
As part of the commemoration, the Moderator read Psalm 46 during the Christian act of worship. Speaking in advance of the National Commemoration Dr. McNeely said, “I recognise the significance of being present at Kilmainham for today’s commemoration and feel privileged to be representing Presbyterians in this significant act of remembrance in the life of Ireland.
“Even in the midst of war and in times of peace, the opening lines of Psalm 46 remind us and reassure us that ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.’ I hope and pray that all will come to know this truth and the comfort that we find in it,” Dr. McNeely said.
Since 1958, the Irish Defence Forces have supported United Nations’ peace keeping missions in the Middle East and elsewhere. This service has not been without cost, with 85 members of the Defence Forces having given their lives during its various UN peacekeeping roles.
In December Dr. McNeely’s predecessor, Dr. Sellar, paid a visit to the Irish Naval Service at its base at Haulbowline in Cork Harbour. On board the L.É James Joyce (P62), one of the Service’s three Offshore Patrol Vessels, he heard of the Naval Service’s humanitarian work in the Mediterranean, where its members have rescued 15,000 migrants in the last two years alone.