Alternative 1916 programme launched


Sinn Fein has launched an alternative Easter Rising programme to the State events for next year’s centenary commemorations.

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams said the launch of the Dublin government’s own programme in November had been a “bad joke”. The corporate-style ‘Ireland Inspires 2016’ video, which made no mention of the Rising and did not feature the 1916 Proclamation of the Republic, has since been withdrawn.

Mr Adams accused the government parties, Fine Gael and Labour, of being “embarrassed” by the commemorations and the Proclamation.

“The Government’s launch was shambolic, and that’s no accident - because they don’t believe in the Proclamation,” Adams said. “Tens of thousands, scores of thousands, of Irish people do believe in the Proclamation.”

Sinn Fein is working with the Citizens’ Initiative supporting The Reclaim the Vision of 1916 Celebration on Sunday 24th April, 2016, which was started by the artist Robert Ballagh. Even that programme was accused of engaging in revisionism after it issued a “new” proclamation for Ireland ‘North and South’, rather than the original declaration of a 32 County Republic.

The planned commemorations will begin in August this year with a re-enactment of the funeral of veteran Fenian Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa with a procession from City Hall to Glasnevin Cemetery, and a recreation of the famous graveside oration by Padraig Pearse on Saturday, August 1st.

Sinn Fein is also funding an exhibition at The Ambassador Theatre, O’Connell Street opening on February 27th next year. The visitor attraction will feature a day-by-day account and legacy of the 1916 Rising through different mediums and artefacts.

The role of women in the Rising will be recognised with an event on International Women’s Day, March 8.

It will honour Cumann nan Ban and all the women who took part in the Rising, fighting for Irish Freedom and Women’s Rights. Over 22 women fought in the rising in total.

Meanwhile Easter Weekend will see the focus switch to the diaspora, with plans for them to take part in a series of special events. Easter Saturday at 11am will see a major march, billed as the Irish Citizen Army Parade from Liberty Hall to St Stephen’s Green.

Sinn Fein is also marking the chronological centenary of the rising from April 24th to 29th with Son et Lumiere (sound and light) projections on the facade of the GPO using the portico as a giant screen.

There will be dawn vigils outside Kilmainham Gaol at 3am on each of the dates which coincide with the centenary of the execution of the leaders of the Rising.

Mr Adams said Sinn Fein also intends to participate in the State commemorations. The main State commemoration is on Easter Sunday 2016 which falls on March 27th.

He said he had no objection to British royal family members attending the commemoration, a controversial element of the official events.

However, he criticised the government for failing to secure the buildings in Moore Street where the leaders of the Easter Rising surrendered.

Speaking at the launch in Wynn’s Hotel, Dublin, Mr Adams said the centenary of the Rising will be a time to “rededicate ourselves to the achievement of the politics of Wolfe Tone, of Padraig Pearse and James Connolly, of Maire Drumm and Mairead Farrell, and of Bobby Sands. “

Also present at the launch were relatives of those who fought in 1916. Their spokesman James Heron Connolly, James Connolly’s great grandson, said they had produced their own proposals in relation to the commemoration of the Easter Rising and believed Sinn Fein had taken many of them on board.

He said there was a “complete lack of urgency” on the part of the State as far as commemorations were concerned, and they are still awaiting the official State programme to be rolled out.

“This highlights the fact that there is still no official programme for Commemoration,” said Mr Heron.

“We’ve asked for an official programme,” he added, saying it was not too late.

“There is a lack of urgency there that’s alarming and our message as relatives is that it’s little over a year away and time is running out.”

Mr Adams said the Rising is a hugely important event which needs to be marked appropriately.

“[The proclamation] is about equality ... and also about the spirit at a time when the British were the largest colonial power in the history of the world,” he said.

“For a small group of people to go out in Dublin city - and other places - was an act of huge, enormous courage.”

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