£30k for Messines and Thomas Ashe commemorations

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A sum of £30,000 has been approved by Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Business and Culture Committee to mark the Battle of Messines and the death of Thomas Ashe among several other major centenaries due to take place this year.

A £10,000 budget will be available for applications for grants of up to £1,000 for smaller events, while a £20,000 budget will be made available for larger grants of up to £10,000.

According to the council’s Centenaries Working Group the most significant anniversary this year is the Battle of Messines in June.

Sinn Féin Councillor Michael Cooper said: “From our own perspective the death of Thomas Ashe will be of great importance for republicans.”

However, Colr. Cooper said it would also be important to remember the many Irish soldiers who fought and died at Messines.

SDLP Councillor John Boyle said: “I need no introduction to Messines. I, like many others, had a personal family connection to that among many other horrors of the First World War.”

The centenary commemoration of the Battle of Messines, which involved the participation of the 16th (Irish) and 36th (Ulster) Divisions will take place over the week June 7 and June 14.

Later in the year republicans will commemorate the anniversary of the death and funeral of 1916 veteran Thomas Ashe, who died in the Mater Misericordiae Hospital after being force fed whilst on hunger strike on September 25, 1917.