Thursday 22 February 2018

Relatives of those who fought and died in 1916 Rising invited to take part centenary

Minister Jimmy Deenihan said he wants to see as many relatives as possible attend events to mark the 1916 Rising centenary
Minister Jimmy Deenihan said he wants to see as many relatives as possible attend events to mark the 1916 Rising centenary

Relatives of those who fought and died in the 1916 Rising are being invited to take part in official events to mark the centenary.

The Government moved to avoid a potentially embarrassing row with descendants, some of whom have suggested that they should boycott the commemorations if they are not formally recognised.

Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, who is in charge of planning next year's celebrations, said he wants the principled commitment and selfless determination of the revolutionary leaders and soldiers and supporters acknowledged.

The minister said he wants to see as many of the descendants and relatives as possible attend and participate in events.

"Throughout the development of the centenary programme, in all of the consultation meetings on different issues, I have been impressed with the interest and commitment of the family members and their wish to be closely involved in the upcoming commemorations," Mr Deenihan said.

"I believe that our acknowledgement of the service, sacrifice and achievement of the truly remarkable men and women involved in the Easter Rising should include a special consideration and their descendants and relatives should be involved.

"Our ongoing preparations would be greatly assisted if relatives who are interested in being represented in the centenary arrangements could contact the department.

"I would be grateful to receive all such expressions of interest in relation to the commemorations in 2016 from families along with information on their familial connection to the Rising."

Mr Deenihan said the centenary commemorations should reflect the historic importance and transformative effect Easter 1916 has had on Irish society and the presence of descendants is part of that.

Members of the British Royal Family are expected to be invited to attend the commemorations but this is the first formal acknowledgement that descendants will have a role to play.

A public meeting was planned for a Dublin hotel next week to rally relatives of those who fought and died after a number expressed frustration and fear that they were being frozen out by government officials.

An expert advisory group involving UCD modern history Professor Diarmaid Ferriter - who said the relatives have a right to be concerned - and other prominent historians such as Martin Mansergh and Professor Eunan O'Halpin of Trinity College will meet regularly to plan for next year's events.

Sinn Fein will hold the position of Lord Mayor of Dublin in 2016, giving the party a prominent position in events.

Plans are also being developed to restore four buildings 14-17 Moore Street, including the headquarters of the Rising in No 16, in time for next Easter.

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