No royals invited to attend official centenary of 1916

Heather Humphreys

By Joyce Fegan

No invitation to the 1916 celebrations has been extended to the British royal family.

In a meeting that took place between the 1916 Relatives Association and the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht last July with its then minister, Jimmy Deenihan, relatives were assured that the British royal family had not been contacted regarding the commemoration events.

"Mr Deenihan said his office had not extended an invitation to any member of the British royal family for the GPO or Arbour Hill celebrations in 1916 but there may be more appropriate events that they could be invited to," said David Kilmartin, who is chairperson of the 1916 Relatives Association.

However, Heather Humphreys was appointed the new Minister for Arts in last summer's reshuffle, but the association has yet to meet with her.

When contacted by the Herald about the proposed invitation list, a spokesman said Mr Deenihan's position still stands.

"Minister Humphreys is of the same view of Minister Deenihan on this issue," he said.

The spokesman noted that "no one person or body had been contacted about the celebrations as of yet.

"No invitations have been issued to any group or organisation for 1916 commemorative events," he added.


However, Mr Kilmartin understands that the Government is keeping a list for the events based on people who have expressed interest in attending the commemoration in 1916.

But he said that although there is a provisional list, "We don't know what's happening or who's invited. We need clarity. It's all well and good having a list," added Mr Kilmartin.

After the association's meeting in the last 10 days, Minister Humphreys contacted the relatives. She asked them to meet but they were unable to attend and instead the various parties will sit down to discuss the 1916 commemorations within the next two weeks.

The Department of Arts confirmed that a Commemoration Unit has been established and it is spearheading the celebrations aided by the Department of Defence. If any relative wishes to contact the Government, they are advised to go through the Commemoration Unit.

It is understood that large numbers are expected for the GPO part of the events in March 1916. In order to accommodate relatives, "tiered seating" the length of O'Connell Street is being looked at as a way to meet the demands.

As it stands there are no concrete proposals to mark the Rising and the relatives group said that plans are in a "shambles."