Saturday 20 December 2014

Plans to mark 1916 treated like 'third secret of Fatima'

Published 02/09/2014 | 02:30

O'Connell Street lies in ruins after the 1916 Rising.
O'Connell Street lies in ruins after the 1916 Rising.
Soldiers inspect the interior of the GPO after it was shelled during the Rising.
Fighters in the 1916 Rising.

POLITICIANS involved in the planning of the 1916 centenary celebrations are hugely frustrated at the Government for the lack of progress in the preparations.

Among their gripes is the confusion over whether representatives of the British royal family will asked to attend.

The idea was floated by the Taoiseach but some members of an All Party Consultation Group on Commemorations, set up to advise the Government on the current decade of centenaries, have expressed concerns about the security implications of such a move. They said it would take the focus away from the descendants of those who took part in the Rising.

Two TDs and a senators on the committee told the Irish Independent that the committee set up three years ago has met nearly 20 times.

However, a programme of events for 2016 has yet to be agreed.

One member, Independent TD Maureen O'Sullivan, said there seemed to be so much secrecy surrounding plans they were "being treated like the third secret of Fatima".

The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, which is spearheading the preparations, has refused to discuss details of much of what is planned.

Several proposals have been discussed by the all party group behind closed doors since the beginning of 2012.

Parade

However, the Irish Independent understands decisions have still not been made by Government officials on key issues, such as a proposal for an once-off public holiday, called Republic Day, and the composition of the military parade which will be the focal point of the celebrations.

The committee, which is composed of TDs, senators and history experts, has yet to get clarity on who will be invited. The department said no invitations have been issued yet, but it would be asking descendants of those who fought in the Rising to make contact if they wish to be involved.

Fianna Fail Senator Mark Daly said: "Ultimately while it is a national celebration, it is also a celebration of the lives of those who participated and their descendants should be kept informed of any proposals or developments."

Another committee member, Independent TD Catherine Murphy, whose grandfather took part in the Rising, also criticised the secrecy surrounding the plans.

"The lack of forward planning has also been a key frustration for some of us," she said.

Maureen O'Sullivan said the committee was not proactive and she couldn't understand why plans were not being openly discussed.

Several committee members were also critical that events which have already taken place as part of the decade of commemorations were poorly publicised.

The department said an announcement of "key elements, including funding, of the centenary commemorations to take place in 2016 will be made shortly".

Irish Independent

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