Belfast Telegraph

1916 Rising centenary plans set out

Relatives of volunteers who fought in the 1916 Rising will lead a military ceremony on Easter Sunday next year to mark the centenary.

Following confusion and controversy over the involvement of families, the Government has offered a key role on the day the rebellion is publicly marked.

Other key events include a special state reception for relatives the day before and a commemoration at Arbour Hill on Sunday April 24 to mark the date of the Rising.

The proposals for the state events to honour and remember those who fought and died in the 1916 Rising were revealed at a ceremony at the GPO in Dublin.

The Easter military parade will take place on Sunday March 27 next year.

The 850 members of the 1916 Relatives Association boycotted the launch, while other key relatives were not invited and plan to announce an alternative set of events centred around the GPO and the last surviving buildings used by the rebels in Moore Street.

Una McNulty, whose grandfather Peadar McNulty and great-uncle Michael McNulty were in the Four Courts garrison, claimed the outlined plans bore no relation to what had been revealed to them in a meeting with the Minister for the Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht yesterday.

"It appears we were invited to the event merely to act as pawns in a political stunt that wants us there simply as a photo opportunity," she said.

As part of the Government's plans, 22 million euro (£17.2 million) will also be spent on seven projects by next Easter to create permanent reminders of the 100-year anniversary.

James Connolly Heron, great-grandson of rebel leader James Connolly, said the preservation of Moore Street should be a flagship project.

"There's nothing concrete. It's not honouring the lives of the men and women. It's not portraying them as the cultural figures they were as part of a renaissance," he said.

As part of alternative commemorations, relatives of the rebel leaders and volunteers plan to put up a plaque, develop a historical cultural quarter, create signage for important landmarks, hold a series of education and cultural events but with the focus around the importance of the near-derelict Moore Street site at the rear of the GPO.

At the launch, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said next year's centenary needs to be more than marking 100 years since the rebellion.

"2016 presents us with a once-in-a-century opportunity to create events of celebration and remembrance that are of value in themselves but that also contribute to a greater sense of who we are, what we want to be as a people, what achievements we aspire to for ourselves and for our children," he said.

No information was released on potential involvement of the British Royal Family, which had been suggested earlier in the year.

Mr Kenny added: "But we need 2016 to be much more than that. 2016 can be a year when we remember our shared history on these islands, reflect on our achievements and our failings and re-imagine our future.

"Remembrance on its own is insufficient to honour the ideals and achievements of the men and women who proclaimed our Republic.

"We can best honour the past by reflecting deeply and seriously on the present, by exploring and celebrating our achievements, and by creatively re-imagining how we should aspire to the ideal of the Republic as proclaimed in 1916."

Elsewhere, the 2016 events will include national ceremonies, parades and events and projects to reflect the esteem the Irish language was held by the rebel leaders.

Cultural programmes are also being developed with national institutions, the Arts Council and Culture Ireland and a special education programme is planned for young people.

The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht will oversee the plans and there will also be an initiative to involve community groups and encourage grassroots events.

Talks, exhibitions, seminars and cultural events will be held around the world through the embassy network.

A special set of commemorative stamps and a series of coins will also be issued.

The Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemoration was given the detail of the proposed events an hour before the launch.

It is understood members, including UCD Professor Diarmaid Ferriter, who questioned whether a royal visit to 1916 commemorations is appropriate, and Dr Maurice Manning, a human rights advocate, and other historians, will review the plans, as will relatives of the 1916 leaders and volunteers.

Tanaiste Joan Burton TD said: "It is my hope that these commemorations will leave a lasting legacy in the form of community events involving local historical societies and community organisations, through historical research and by facilitating our National Cultural Institutions to make widely accessible collections of material which are relevant to the decade of commemorations.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys said Ireland 2016 is designed to remember, honour, inspire and motivate.

"I want to get the entire nation involved in 2016; together we can remember and honour our history, while also looking to the future and asking ourselves where we want the country to go in the next 100 years," she said.

"Relatives of the 1916 participants are being given a special role in a number of key state events, in recognition of the sacrifice made by their family members.

Full details of the Ireland 2016 commemorations will be published on Ireland.ie.

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