Relatives to play key role in 2016 Rising commemorations

Programme of events will be called Ireland 2016 to mark centenary of seminal event

Relatives of those who fought in the Easter Rising will be invited to head a parade which will be main event of the Easter Rising centenary commemorations.

A military parade will be held on Easter Sunday 2016, which falls on March 27th. It will be led by relatives of those who participated in the Rising, though some of the relatives boycotted last night’s launch claiming they were not consulted about the programme before it was launched.

After the parade, the Proclamation will be read from the steps of the GPO by President Michael D Higgins.

Tonight’s launch of the 2016 Centenary programme at the GPO was disrupted by water protestors who banged on the windows of the building as the speeches were going on.


Details of the Rising programme remain scant and most of the events have yet to be unveiled.

The programme will be called Ireland 2016 and will have five themes: Remember, Reconcile, Imagine, Present and Celebrate.

The commemoration programme was kept a secret until unveiled tonight. This was despite misgivings from the commemoration committees set up to advise the Government on how to proceed and from relatives who boycotted the programme launch.

The Rising commemorations will have an international dimension. A major documentary on 1916 is currently under preparation at Notre Dame University. Plans are being developed for a three week festival at the Kennedy Centre in Washington DC in May/June 2016. The centre is planning a “Proclaiming Ireland” festival.

The Irish embassy in Britain will run an academic and cultural programme. The National Concert Hall will run a series of events over seven days during Easter Week 2016.

The Rising commemorations will also have a First World War dimension. Collins Barracks will recreate the conditions that Irish-born soldiers lived in before they trained for the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.

Richmond Barracks, who were the 1916 court-martials took place, will also reflect the fact that it was where Irish soldiers trained on the way to the Somme battlefield.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said an Irish sovereign state might have emerged by other means at another time and there was a strong tradition of Irish parliamentary democracy, but “at the same time we will not, and should not be expected to be neutral about the State’s own existence”.

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys said a project team within the Department will meet with local organisations to plan a nationwide series of commemorations.

Committees will be set up in every country to plan the Rising commemoration.

Arts programmes will be launched in schools and a children’s day will be held to commemorate the children who died in the Rising.

Two former Taoiseachs were at last night’s launch , Liam Cosgrave, whose father was an Easter Rising veteran, and Bertie Ahern.

Mr Ahern said, as part of the 1916 commemorations, the British Government should return the Irish regimental flags which were laid up in Windsor Castle after the regiments were disbanded in 1922.

“I never got the flags back. I gladly acknowledge what the Queen did in the Garden of Remembrance, but it would be nice to get those six flags back on the basis that we are doing things in a reconciliation way.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times