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Royal family won't get invite to Easter Rising centenary celebrations

By Sam Griffin

Ambassadors based in the Republic will be the highest level of foreign dignitaries invited to events marking the centenary of the 1916 Rising, it has emerged.

The decision by Dublin to keep the historic events effectively 'Irish-only' - by inviting just those already based in embassies in the Republic - removes any lingering doubt that any member of the royal family might attend next year's celebrations.

The programme of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, called Ireland 2016, was launched last year.

An updated programme of events was later revealed after opposition parties and the relatives of the 1916 rebels criticised initial plans.

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The Irish government had initially indicated the British monarchy could play a role in the celebrations, following the highly successful visit of Michael D Higgins to the UK last year and the Queen's historic visit to Ireland in 2011.

However, it was later decided such a visit could prove to be a "distraction" from the events, with Taoiseach Enda Kenny ruling out any involvement by the monarchy.

The potentially divisive issue has been the subject of several email exchanges between the Irish government and the British ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott that were marked "sensitive".

In March, just days before the updated Ireland 2016 programme was launched, an official in the Anglo-Irish division of the Department of Foreign Affairs wrote to Mr Chilcott providing him with the state's "public line in response to any question about inviting high level visitors to the core Easter 2016 events".

The statement says: "The events in the Ireland 2016 State Ceremonial programme will be moments for national commemoration.

"Therefore high-level representatives of Ireland's international partners will not be in attendance at these Easter events."

The Republic's  Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed this remained the Irish government's position. It added that another series of events, the 'Ireland 2016 Global and Diaspora Programme', would involve international partners. The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "Her Majesty's Government is committed to working closely with the Irish government during the decade of centenaries marking the events of 1912-1922 to promote a greater understanding of our shared history, and to do so in a spirit of historical accuracy, mutual respect, inclusiveness and reconciliation.

"Our hosts have suggested that this is something that is appropriate for the diplomatic corps."

It added: "We wish to be represented at appropriate level and that is a standard part of diplomacy."

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