Saturday 10 December 2016

Primate fears 1916 events could lead to division

Nick Bramhill

Published 18/01/2016 | 02:30

Archbishop Eamon Martin: warns of tensions in the North Photo: Frank Mc Grath
Archbishop Eamon Martin: warns of tensions in the North Photo: Frank Mc Grath

The Primate of All Ireland has told of his fears that the 1916 commemorations could trigger increased tensions between nationalist and unionist communities in the North.

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Archbishop of Armagh Eamon Martin urged organisers of the Easter Rising centenary celebrations to avoid a "false glorification" of the event and to focus instead on the victims.

He said he hoped the "terrible loss of human life" would be the main focus of the planned centenary commemorations for both the Easter Rising and the Battle Of The Somme, which saw more than one million casualties, many of whom were from the North.

The archbishop said: "It's a very significant year for the people of Ireland, both North and South. One of the first things to remember is that there are two major commemorations taking place on the island this year.

"We have, of course, the remembrance of the Easter Rising and then we have the commemoration of the Battle of the Somme, where tens of thousands of Irish people fought and many, many lost their lives.

"It's so important when we are remembering that we do not engage in some sort of revisionism or kind of false glorification of the events, either of Easter or indeed of World War One, but instead we recognise the horrific and terrible loss of human life that took place.

"We know that on this island there are lots of people who carry hurt for the legacy of the conflict in Northern Ireland that is very recent.

"I think we can do all we want with rose-tinted glasses to look back 100 years at 1916, but in doing so we should not be indifferent to the hurts and the pains and the wounds of people, which are still very raw."

In an interview with the iCatholic website, he added: "I hope that in our remembrance of 1916, we are very aware of the present and the possibility that we could drive a wedge during this year, rather than promoting harmony and friendship."

Irish Independent

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