Council defends 1916 banner highlighting Ireland’s parliamentary history

Grattan, O’Connell, Parnell and Redmond ’as much a part of the historical narrative as anyone else’

The 1916 banner at College Green Bank of Ireland featuring Henry Grattan, Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell and John Redmond

The 1916 banner at College Green Bank of Ireland featuring Henry Grattan, Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell and John Redmond

 

Dublin City Council has further defended the erection of a banner featuring Henry Grattan, Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell and John Redmond on the Bank of Ireland building at College Green in Dublin.

The banner forms part of the city’s centenary commemoration of the Easter Rising.

In a statement, the council said it was appropriate and fitting to pay respect to the endeavours of constitutional nationalists and parliamentarians.

“It was considered that they are as much a part of the historical narrative of Irish nationalism as anyone else,” the council said, describing the banner as “a small gesture of recognition on the occasion,when this independent democratic state acknowledges the seminal events that led to its formation”.

The banner was widely ridiculed on social media earlier this week. Sinn Féin councillor Paul Donnelly tweeted: “Tourists will be torturing the poor guides with ‘so, where did these guys fight?’”

The Rubber Bandits, who have made a spoof documentary on the Rising, wrote: “Sickened that the official centenary celebration has managed to be more absurd than our 1916 documentary.”

The council has pointed out that it has installed a large number of commemorative flags and banners on lamp poles and flag poles across the city, as well as placing promotional posters on billboards, buses and at train stations.

In addition to these, the 1916 National Project Office and the Office of Public Works, in collaboration with the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht, have installed a number of larger commemorative banners and wraps on prominent buildings in the city centre.

These include the banner at College Green, along with nine others, including the seven Proclamation signatories at the College of Surgeons and the Women of the Rising at Central Bank Plaza.

“Ireland is one of the oldest continuous democracies in the world,” the council stated. “We have a proud parliamentary tradition that stretches back centuries. The Bank of Ireland, along the parade route, was the very first purpose-built Parliament Building, the seat of Grattan’s Parliament.

“Differing points of view in relation to commemorations are expected and welcome and we have genuinely tried to include a reasonable mix of these views.”

Responding to criticism of the banner earlier this week, the council’s deputy city librarian Brendan Teeling said parliamentary nationalists had been supported by the majority of Irish people prior to 1916 and it would be “unhistorical” to leave them out

“It is not making a grand claim. It is not part of this revisionist stuff that’s going on,” he said.