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McCausland issues Easter Rising centenary warning

A Unionist minister has warned the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising could encourage dissident republican terrorism after Taoiseach Brian Cowen urged unionists to respect commemorations.

At a conference on marking 100-year anniversaries of defining events, Mr Cowen said the Government plans to further officially commemorate the Somme at an event in Dublin in 2016.

"I expect, too, that the events of Easter 1916 will be commemorated with respect and dignity in every part of this island," the Taoiseach said.

"That, I respectfully submit, is a challenge that must be considered by the leaders of unionism."

Nelson McCausland, Democratic Unionist Culture Minister in Stormont, warned about the legacy of 1916.

"There is the real danger of a veneration that could encourage and assist those dissident republicans in Northern Ireland who want to indoctrinate another generation of young men to pursue the nihilistic path of violence," the MLA said.

He said the 100-year anniversary gives nationalists a chance to reflect on republican ideology and its results and the opportunity to broaden their story.

The north Belfast representative said 1916 should be remembered as much for the battlefields of France as what happened on the streets of Dublin.

"Those Irishmen who fought in France must not be forgotten," he said.

Mr Cowen told University College Dublin's British-Irish Studies conference that forthcoming centenaries of the defining moments in Irish history should be shared by all communities and marked across the entire island of Ireland. He said the Government plans to reach out to all political parties north and south, civic leaders and cultural institutions, urging them to take part in 100-year anniversaries of once divisive events.

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