To: Dr Ian Adamson OBE
Following my recent appointment by the Prime Minister to the UK Advisory Board for the Centenary Commemorations of the First World War, I have been asked to establish and chair a committee in Northern Ireland to consider our own plans to mark this important period in our shared history.
As you will know, we face a decade of significant centenaries on the island of Ireland and I feel it is important that these should not become divisive. The global events that took place during 1914 – 1918 involved people from across the island and the political divide and had a profound effect on the history of Ireland in the 20th century. The centennial commemorations of the war provide an opportunity to enhance our shared understanding of this history and to promote reconciliation.
It is for this reason that I believe the key themes for the commemoration of the First World War in Northern Ireland should be remembrance and reconciliation. The Prime Minister has identified a number of significant dates for UK commemorative activity and Northern Ireland will play its part in these. They include 4 August 2014 – beginning of the war; 1 July 2016 – commencement of the Battle of the Somme and 11 November 2018 – the Armistice.
In addition, I hope that the local committee will identify other dates that are of particular significance to Northern Ireland and the island of Ireland, including the centenary of the Battle of Messines on the 7 June 2017. Initial discussions have already taken place with the Irish Government about this.
Being aware of your keen interest in the ‘Great War’ and the people from this island who served during that period, I have the honour of formally inviting you to become a member of the Advisory Committee in Northern Ireland. This invitation is made to you in your personal capacity and I would wish to stress that the committee will be apolitical in its approach to the centenary.
I look forward to working with the committee towards our ambition of creating a commemoration worthy of this historic centenary and hope that you will feel able to serve as a member. To facilitate the establishment of the committee, I would be grateful if you could respond to me by email or letter to the address below at your earliest convenience.
With kind regards.
Rt Hon Jeffrey Donaldson MP
29 Castle Street