The Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP Secretary of State for Northern Ireland attended the annual Somme commemoration in France as representative of the British government.
The events are held to pay tribute and respect to those who lost their lives during the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War.
The Secretary of State will be taking part in commemoration services at Thiepval, the Ulster Tower and Guillemont where he will lay wreaths on behalf of the Government.
Owen Paterson said,
I consider it an honour to represent the government on this solemn occasion.
We must never forget those who lost their lives during those dark days.
In particular my thoughts today are with the 36th Ulster Division and how it achieved its objectives on the opening day of the battle despite dreadful human loss and suffering in its ranks.
I would also like to pay tribute to the 16th (Irish) Division who also sustained heavy losses before successfully achieving their objectives on 3 September 1916.
I reflect with respect and heartfelt admiration, the connection that the people of Northern Ireland have with the Somme, and also with the vital role many perform today serving in our Armed Forces across the world.
I also pay tribute to organisations such as the Somme Heritage Centre who work tirelessly to ensure that future generations learn about the Battle of the Somme and help ensure that what happened on 1 July 1916 is never forgotten.
Minister of State for Northern Ireland The Rt Hon Hugo Swire MP will represent the Secretary of State at the Somme commemoration in Belfast