Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

Senior unionist calls for sensitivity after Easter Rising invites

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson called for "sensitivity" from the Irish government in how it marks the Easter Rising centenary.

His remarks followed the announcement by Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore that the royal family, the UK government and unionists will be invited to Irish ceremonies marking the centenary in three years' time.

Mr Gilmore had urged nationalist and unionist communities to honour history without antagonising their neighbours. He said he intends to visit Belfast for the second year in a row to lay a Remembrance Day wreath in honour of Irish men who died in the First World War, "including those who fought to maintain the union".

Addressing the British Irish Association in Cambridge on Saturday, Mr Gilmore said people have a responsibility to carry out commemorations in a way that gives no offence.

"I don't underestimate the challenges this will involve but I know they are surmountable, especially if we take our lead from the gracious and mutual respect shown by Queen Elizabeth and President McAleese in Dublin two years ago," he said. Last night, DUP Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson gave a cautious response to the invitation.

"We will be looking very closely at any invitation from the Irish government," he said.

"The IRA was involved in the Easter Rising and we need to ensure that young people are not influenced by anything that would suggest that violence is a way of resolving our differences."

In his weekend speech, Mr Gilmore was also critical of republicans who organised a memorial parade in Castlederg last month, during which two IRA bombers were honoured.

He said they were entitled to remember republicans who died in the Troubles, but he disagreed with the way they did so this year.

"Their entitlement is tempered by responsibility to respect and be sensitive to the suffering of victims of the Troubles. I saw little of that in Castlederg last month," he said

QUOTES

"If we are true to the lead that they showed, then I would hope we can host representatives of the Royal Family and British government, along with the leaders of unionism, in Dublin in three years' time to remember the Easter Rising. I hope also that three months later we can all respectfully remember those who gave their lives in British uniform at the battle of the Somme."

Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore

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