Relatives of 1916 rebels criticise plans to remember British soldiers

Glasnevin Trust to press ahead memorial wall to further ‘understanding’ of the conflict

 John Green, chairman of the  Glasnevin Trust,  lays a wreath at the graveside of Roger Casement at Glasnevin Cemetary in Dublin. Mr Green is to meet relatives of 1916 rebels on Wednesday who are unhappy with a proposal to include the names of British soldiers killed during the Rising on a memorial wall. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

John Green, chairman of the Glasnevin Trust, lays a wreath at the graveside of Roger Casement at Glasnevin Cemetary in Dublin. Mr Green is to meet relatives of 1916 rebels on Wednesday who are unhappy with a proposal to include the names of British soldiers killed during the Rising on a memorial wall. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times.

 

The trust which runs Glasnevin cemetery and museum in Dublin has said it intends to move ahead with plans to build a memorial wall to all the victims of the Easter Rising despite objections from some relatives.

The Necrology Wall will contain the names of 485 people identified as having died in the Easter Rising of whom 262 were civilians, 107 were British soldiers, 58 were rebels and 13 were policemen, according to the Glasnevin Trust.

After 2016 it will go on to list all the names of those who died in the War of Independence and Civil War in chronological order.

The 1916 Relatives Committee has described the proposal to include British soldiers on the wall as “abhorrent”.

Relatives’ Committee spokeswoman Deirdre Nic Eanruig said it was the overwhelming view of its 2,000 members that the names of those who died on the rebel side should not “share a commemorative plaque or monument of any kind with those who on behalf of British rule summarily abused and executed them”.

She said previous approaches to Glasnevin Trust, which runs the cemetery, had been unsuccessful and the trust had not taken into account “the effect it would have on many of those whose relatives’ names would share the wall with their murderers”.

The relatives have secured a meeting with the trust on Wednesday, but its chairman John Green said it will not be changing its plans.

‘Better understanding’

Mr Green said he acknowledged the inclusion of British soldiers on the wall would be difficult for some to accept, but “that does not prevent us from hoping that through the recording of facts, without judgement, a better understanding of this period will emerge.

“Behind each and every one of these lives lost lies a story of heartbreak, regardless of which side the person was on or indeed for the people who were innocently caught up in the affair.”

Mr Green said the essence of the Necrology Wall is remembrance. It records the names, dates of death, and status of those who perished as a result of the conflict in Ireland between 1916 and 1923, based on historical fact, without judgement or hierarchy. Each will be free to take from the wall what they wish.”

Mr Green citied similar efforts to remember all the dead of other conflicts.

The concept of a Necrology Wall is not unique to Ireland, the most prominent and recent one being the “Ring of Remembrance” at Ablain-Saint-Nazaire in France, which was inaugurated on November 11th, 2014 and remembers 580,000 soldiers from all sides who lost their lives in northern France in the first World War.