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Rising centenary 'must recall peaceful leaders too'

THE centenary of the 1916 Rising should commemorate Ireland's nationalist leaders who sought freedom through the ballot box as well as armed revolutionaries, a former senior diplomat has said.

Sean Donlon, the former Irish Ambassador to the United States and Department of Foreign Affairs chief, has said leaders like Daniel O'Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell and John Redmond should be remembered on an equal footing to rebels like Padraig Pearse and James Connolly.

Mr Donlon made the comments in a speech praising late-US Senator Ted Kennedy's contribution to the Northern Peace Process at the Parnell Summer School last night.

He described the likes of Parnell and Redmond, who tried to further the cause of Irish freedom though constitutional means within the British system, as "lost leaders".


And he quoted Fr Frank Shaw who wrote of the 50th anniversary in 1966 that those commemorations honoured "one group of Irishmen by denying honour to others".

Mr Donlon said: "There are times when we are still stuck in this tradition of forgetting some leaders and commemorating in an unbalanced way the militant view of nationalism."

He said: "2016 will provide an opportunity to introduce a better balance to our nationalist commemorations."

Mr Donlon called the 1966 commemoration "overly exuberant" in celebrating the military struggle for freedom.

He said: "I think that encouraged some of what happened in Northern Ireland subsequently. People who felt that arms and the blood sacrifice was the way to make progress.

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"There should be an equal representation and commemoration of the political side, the Redmond people, the Parnell people. They were almost wiped out of history."

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