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President marks 20th anniversary of Omagh bombing by ringing the Peace Bell at Áras an Uachtaráin
In a ceremony of solidarity today, President Michael D. Higgins rang the Peace Bell at Áras an Uachtaráin, as a gesture symbolising the importance of peace and reconciliation.
President and Sabina Higgins rang the bell at 3h10 pm, marking the exact time of the explosion 20 years ago, that killed 29 people and injured hundreds.
The ceremony at Áras an Uachtaráin took place with the approval of the families of the victims, mirroring a similar event organised in Omagh today.
The ceremony followed on from the statement below, which was issued yesterday by the President in which he paid tribute to the victims and highlighted the importance of building a culture of peace and tolerance on our island.
“On the 20th anniversary of the Omagh bombing, we remember the 29 women, men and children who were killed, and the hundreds who were injured, in a horrific act of violence.
“As President of Ireland, I wish to add my voice to the expressions of solidarity with the people of Omagh and to take the opportunity to acknowledge again the courageous work of the first responders of 20 years ago.
“As we recall with deep sadness the deaths and the injuries at Omagh, we should use this moment to recognise the many ways in which we are all connected and the many ways in which we have sought to make peaceful progress over the last two decades.
“May we use this anniversary as we honour the victims, to re-emphasise the importance of building a culture of peace and tolerance on our island.
“While the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement remains a work which requires our continued vigilance and commitment, its principles – so overwhelming endorsed by the people – represent the best hopes for the future of our shared island.
“On this poignant anniversary, all of our thoughts must be with the families of those affected and with all those who continue to work towards a future of peace and reconciliation.”
Unveiled in 2008 by then President McAleese, the Peace Bell was designed to mark the 10th anniversary of the Belfast Agreement.
The bell, dating from the 19th century, is supported by two oak trunks, one from Shane’s Castle Demesne, Co Antrim, the other from the Glencairn area in south Dublin.
President Higgins has actively encouraged visitors to Áras an Uachtaráin to ring the Peace Bell, on a wide range of occasions. People who have rung the Bell in recent years include representatives from community groups North and South, as well as visiting dignitaries such as Prince Charles, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex and US President Barack Obama.
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