Irish Republican News · March 9, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Unionists snub ‘terrorist’ Rising

Ulster Unionists have rejected an invitation to attend a ceremony to mark the 1916 Easter Rising and the declaration of the Irish Republic, describing it as an “act of terrorism”.

The Dublin government confirmed plans last week to invite unionist representatives to witness a military ceremony at the General Post Office in Dublin’s O’Connell Street, marking the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.

A ceremony in June for soldiers killed in the First World War Battle of the Somme was also planned as a gesture to the unionist tradition.

Ulster Unionist spokesman welcomed the Somme commemoration, but expressed hostility to the Rising event.

“The Easter insurgency which took place during the Great War led to the death of approximately 30 rebels, 200 British servicemen and over 200 innocent Dublin citizens,” the East Belfast representative said.

“It took place at a time when 300,000 Irishmen of all religions were serving as volunteers in the British army, 50,000 of whom gave their lives.

“It heralded the end of the long and honourable tradition of constitutional Irish nationalism and brought to the fore the blood sacrifice ethos of armed republicanism which led directly to the partition of this island and the Irish civil war.”

The move is a blow to continuing efforts to play down the nationalist and republican aspect of the Easter Rising, which ultimately led to the liberation of the 26 Counties from British rule.

More than 2,500 members of the 26 County Army and members of the Garda police will take part in the government-sponsored 90th anniversary commemorations.

It is the first military Easter parade to be held in forty years due to nervousness over the potential for the display to stir patriotic feelings in Irish people. The last significant commemoration of the Rising took place on the fiftieth anniversary in 1966.

The events of Easter 1916 remain largely taboo in the 26 Counties and patriotic retrospectives are frowned upon by pro-unionist commentators and politicians. Recent comments by the Irish President Mary McAleese that the Easter Rising had not been a “sectarian enterprise” were considered controversial by the mainstream media.

Around 2,500 personnel representing all branches of the defence forces, together with representatives of former service personnel and veterans of UN service, will be included. A fly-past by the Air Corps is also envisaged. The parade will depart from Dublin Castle and go past Dame Street, College Green and O’Connell Street.

There will also be a reading of the Proclamation outside the General Post Office and appropriate military honours will be rendered.

Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghin O Caolain has welcomed the commemorative events but said they “shouldn’t be just sombre military affairs but rather community and civic-led celebrations that should look forward to fulfilling the objectives of those who took on the might of the British empire 90 years ago.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News