Government’s self-loathing over Rising centenary
Government’s self-loathing over Rising centenary


A reference to the executions of 1916 leaders and a photograph of IRA Volunteers were removed from a leaflet launching the Dublin government’s programme of Easter Rising centenary events last November, it has been confirmed.

The Fine Gael/Labour government made last-minute attempts to prevent nationalist images appearing in publications to announce the programme of events, according to the results of a Freedom of Information request.

A photograph of IRA Volunteers was also among those expunged by officials. A photograph of ruined buildings on O’Connell St was used instead.

Also deleted from the list of events was a reference to ceremonies marking the 100th anniversary of the executions of the leaders between May and August next year.

The leaflet and ‘Ireland Inspires’ video were derided when they included images of the queen of England and rock stars Bono and Bob Geldof, without any direct reference to the Rising or related historical events.

The controversy was seen internationally as a symptom of post-colonial self-doubt endured by some sections of Irish society in the aftermath of independence.

Fine Gael, the party most closely linked to the unionist and anti-republican traditions in the Irish Civil War, has suffered open turmoil over the issue. Former Fine Gael leader John Bruton has even campaigned for the Rising to be officially treated as “a mistake”.

The government’s chaotic handling of events forced the Irish parties of the nationalist tradition, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein, to launched their own ‘alternative’ 1916 plans from those planned by the State.

Dublin Sinn Fein TD, and chair of the party’s 1916 centenary committee, Aengus O Snodaigh has called upon the government not to try to “sanitise” Irish history.

“I believe that Irish people should be rightly proud of the courage of the men and women who in 1916 took on the British Empire to assert Ireland’s nationhood and independence,” he said.

The revised programme of 1916 commemoration events was launched at the National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks, Dublin on Tuesday evening, and there were signs of an improvement.

Dozens of events are being planned across the country, including a major parade on Easter Sunday 2016 from Dublin Castle to Parnell Square, and the opening of an Easter Rising visitor centre at the GPO.

The significant but largely forgotten role of women in the rebellion will also be marked, while wreaths will be laid on Easter Monday marking the time when the first shots were fired. A commemoration of rebel leader James Connolly will also be held at Liberty Hall.

There will also be a ‘Proclamation Day’ held in all schools on 15 March 2016. A national flag and a copy of the Proclamation will be delivered to every school in the country prior to this. There will also be an invitation to all Primary School children to “rewrite” their version of the Proclamation, leading to reports -- subsequently denied -- that the government intends to redraft the 1916 Proclamation of the Republic.

There was no mention in the programme of the long-mooted involvement of the British royal family. However, the celebrations will include a memorial to the British soldiers who died trying to crush the rebellion, in a bid to make events more “inclusive”.

The programme also includes a range of American and larger diaspora events. Events in eastern Europe and Africa at the time of the 1916 Rising will also be examined by schools in the name of multiculturalism.

Mr Kenny said that the centenary should be used as an opportunity to create national unity.

“There are some moments in history when a seed is sown and an old order changes forever. Easter 1916 was a moment when Irish nationalism joined forces with a revolutionary cultural and language movement to forge an irresistible campaign towards self determination,” he said.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams TD has this weekend called for the widest possible re-engagement with the ideals and principles of the Proclamation of the Republic.

Mr Adams spoke as republicans are attending commemorations of the 1916 Easter Rising at venues across the island.

“The democratic and egalitarian principles contained in the Proclamation are are as urgently required in the Ireland of 2015, as they were 99 years ago,” he said.

“Austerity, inequality, enforced emigration and Partition are anathema to the ideals of the Proclamation.

“The great challenge of the Proclamation is to unite all the people of this island, regardless of background, in equality and mutual respect.”

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