Tuesday 26 September 2017

1916 relatives' group branded 'undemocratic'

Spokesperson Donna Cooney
Spokesperson Donna Cooney
Daniel McConnell

Daniel McConnell

The 1916 Relatives Association has been rocked by the resignation of its chairman and secretary because of "petty squabbles and personality clashes".

As the group prepares for its AGM tomorrow afternoon in Dublin, a bitter internal row has emerged over membership and direction of the committee.

The Irish Independent has confirmed that chairman David Kilmartin and secretary Una MacNulty have both stepped down from the group of 1916 relatives.

The group is also seeking to influence events around the centenary commemoration of the Easter Rising of 1916.

Mr Kilmartin announced his decision to stand down in an email on January 30.

"Hi Una, I know it is not going to come as a great surprise, I am resigning my position as chairperson and committee membership with immediate effect," Mr Kilmartin wrote.

He said: "The decision to resign was a difficult one but ongoing petty squabbles and personality clashes regarding the direction of the organisation led to my decision to leave the group."

Then just last week, the committee's secretary, Una MacNulty, herself tendered her resignation by email "with deep sadness and a heavy heart".

"I can no longer be member of a committee that I believe to be undemocratic and opaque," she told her fellow committee members. She also resigned her membership of the committee.

Because of the bitter dispute, leading PR consultant Paul Allen, who had been working with the group, has chosen to "step back for a period of time" to allow the row to be resolved.

The group has been beset by difficulties, and boycotted the Government's 2016 draft programme event last November.

Donna Cooney, spokeswoman for 1916 Relatives Association, said that over 900 people were involved and working on a voluntary basis with no resources. Responding to claims that the committee is undemocratic, she said: "This is just a couple of individuals. We have had no ordinary members resign." She conceded however: "There were some differences."

James Connolly Heron, descendant of 1916 leader James Connolly, said he was not a committee member but was disappointed to hear people had resigned. "People should stay together," he said. He rejected that his move to form a separate Relatives Initiative last year was part of the tension.

He also said the Government had failed to produce a programme for the events.

Irish Independent

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