Northern Ireland

VE Day: Northern Ireland marks 70th anniversary

A VE Day tribute was lit at the front of City Hall in Belfast on Friday Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption A VE Day tribute was lit at the front of City Hall in Belfast on Friday
A beacon was lit in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh,
Image caption A beacon was also set alight in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh

Northern Ireland has marked the 70th anniversary of VE Day with a series of events commemorating the end of World War Two in Europe.

Beacons were lit at several locations including Belfast, Coleraine, Enniskillen, Bangor, Ballyhalbert, and at the Knockagh monument, Greenisland.

They were among a chain of more than 200 beacons across the UK.

There were also 1940s-style parties and a gun signal at Hillsborough Castle.

In Coleraine, two search lights were switched on at the front of the town hall on Friday night, forming a V in the night sky.

'WW2 generation'

Earlier, DUP minister Arlene Foster joined UK party leaders in laying wreaths at the Cenotaph in London.

Image copyright Defence Press Office (NI)
Image caption Members of the 206 (Ulster) Battery Royal Artillery fired their 105mm Light Gun at Hillsborough Castle, County Down
Image caption Carwyn Jones and Nicola Sturgeon, first ministers of Wales and Scotland respectively, laid wreaths with Northern Ireland Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster (right)

Mrs Foster was standing in for DUP leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland, Peter Robinson.

She laid a poppy wreath alongside the first ministers of Wales and Scotland.

On Friday morning, WW2 veterans were the guests of honour at a 1940s-style street party at the Royal British Legion's "Pop-In Centre" in Belfast city centre.

The Legion's area manager for Northern Ireland, Brian Maguire, said: "It's important that we do not let this occasion pass without celebrating the Second World War generation who played such an important part in our history."

Image caption Tea and cakes were served at a VE Day anniversary party in Belfast

The armed forces in Northern Ireland took part in a synchronised ceremonial gun salute, in tandem with salutes in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and on Royal Navy ships around the world.

Members of the 206 (Ulster) Battery Royal Artillery fired their 105mm Light Gun at Hillsborough Castle, County Down, the home of the secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

'Sacrifice and courage'

The salute marked the start and finish of a two-minute silence held in remembrance of the war dead.

Image copyright Chris Roberts
Image caption Search lights were placed in front of Coleraine town hall on Friday evening

The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, councillor Billy Ashe, lit the beacon at the Knockagh Monument, County Antrim's War Memorial, which was visible from more than 50 miles away.

Speaking ahead of the event, Mr Ashe said: "We cannot let this day pass without reflecting on the sacrifice and courage of the people who saw us through this period in our history.

"The commemoration should be a time to remember and pay tribute to all those who played their part."

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