Sunday 22 April 2018

Imaginative programme largely allays fears of critics

James Connolly Heron at the launch of the 2016 Centenary Programme at Collins Barracks in Dublin yesterday
James Connolly Heron at the launch of the 2016 Centenary Programme at Collins Barracks in Dublin yesterday
Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

IT has been a long time coming, but finally we know what to expect from the Government's programme to mark the centenary of the 1916 Rising. Given the controversy that has dogged the process to date, there had been a degree of trepidation about how the plans would look.

Organisers have been on the back foot due to vocal criticism from some relatives of combatants that they were not being adequately consulted.

Matters were exacerbated when a promotional video appeared which did not include any mention of the uprising or of the executed signatories of the Proclamation.

Thankfully, these fears have been largely allayed by a programme of events and initiatives firmly focused on the events of 1916 and celebrating and remembering those who took part in the Rising.

The centrepiece - a wreath-laying ceremony and parade followed by an Air Corps flyover on Easter Sunday - will be broadly similar to what took place on the 90th anniversary of the Rising in 2006.

The Government has decided against tinkering too much with what worked well before. In fairness, these types of ceremonies are solemn events which you can't get too imaginative about.

But some nice touches have been incorporated into the programme, such as plans to inscribe the names of those who died on a remembrance wall in Glasnevin Cemetery and several events for the diaspora.

There has also been a considerable amount of imagination applied elsewhere to broaden the appeal of the celebrations.

This is particularly true in the area of education and by the end of 2016 almost every primary school-going child in the country should have a considerable appreciation of what happened in 1916 and why it was so important.

Large amounts of historical information, such as secret police files from the period, is being digitised at present to be made available online. This will mean people who cannot attend events will still be able to take an active part in the period of historical reflection the centenary will bring.

Another strength of the plan is that although the major set pieces will take place in Dublin, there will be a huge programme of events nationwide.

Each local authority is to unveil plans for their area in October.

Irish Independent

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