Manning says Ferriter being ‘precious’ over 1916

Dr Maurice Manning said historian was calling integrity of the group into question

Children wait to place an Easter lily, a symbol of the 1916 Easter Rising, at Arbour Hill cemetery in Dublin during the annual1916 Easter Rising commemoration this month. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Children wait to place an Easter lily, a symbol of the 1916 Easter Rising, at Arbour Hill cemetery in Dublin during the annual1916 Easter Rising commemoration this month. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Tue, Apr 29, 2014, 01:00

The head of an expert advisory group on historic celebrations, including the 1916 centenary, has accused the historian Diarmuid Ferriter of being “precious” and of inadvertently questioning the integrity of the group.

Dr Maurice Manning made the accusation at a meeting last night organised to seek the views of the public on how various centenary celebrations should be conducted.

Mr Ferriter, a professor of modern history at UCD, told those in attendance he had spoken to the Minister for Arts Jimmy Deenihan who was “furious” that the focus for the forthcoming 1916 commemoration had shifted toward the potential participation of the British royal family.

“As far as he is concerned in his own words, the focus should be on ordinary people and ordinary families,” he said.

“He is expressing powerlessness to do anything about that because of what the Department of Foreign Affairs or the Department of the Taoiseach might want to do.”

Mr Ferriter also challenged the group’s chairman Dr Manning as to whether they were involved in meaningful consultation or whether they were being used by the Government.

“The hijacking has already occurred,” Mr Ferriter said in relation to references during the recent State visit of President Michael D Higgins to the UK of possible royal involvement in the celebrations.

Mr Manning criticised Mr Ferriter, telling him he was calling the integrity of the group into question.

“I would resign in the morning if I thought I was being used as a mudguard,” he said.

He said Mr Ferriter was being “a bit precious” with his suspicions.