Boris Johnson praises Ireland’s Easter Rising commemorations

UK foreign secretary says Enda Kenny and officials ‘deserve enormous credit’ for events

Then British ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott lays a wreath, at the State event marking the deaths of British soldiers in the Easter Rising, at Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Dublin in May. Photograph: Eric Luke

Then British ambassador to Ireland Dominick Chilcott lays a wreath, at the State event marking the deaths of British soldiers in the Easter Rising, at Grangegorman Military Cemetery, Dublin in May. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

British foreign secretary Boris Johnson has praised the commemorations for the Easter Rising saying they “struck exactly the right note”.

Mr Johnson, who is also a historian, said commemorating the Easter Rising was a “supremely sensitive task requiring the utmost tact and delicacy combined with a profound understanding of the past and its relationship with the present”.

Mr Johnson singled out the service at Grangegorman military cemetery for the British soldiers killed in the Rising as an example of an “abiding sense of reconciliation”.

That service in May was disrupted by a protester, Brian Murphy, who objected to British soldiers being remembered.

Mr Johnson’s remarks were read out by the British ambassador to Ireland, Robin Barnett, at a reception in the ambassador’s residence in Glencairn, south Dublin.

Mr Barnett said he had asked the foreign secretary to write something for him and “he willingly agreed to do so”.

Mr Johnson praised Taoiseach Enda Kenny and his team of officials who he said “deserve enormous credit for organising events such as these with great skill, sensitivity and deftness”.

Mr Johnson also said it was “entirely fitting” that President Michael D Higgins attended the events to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme given the number of Irish who died in the battle.

Mr Johnson described the relationship between the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom as “special” and based on “bonds of family and friendship”.

He said he looked forward to visiting Ireland and the British government was willing to give “any assistance that may be needed for any centenary events in 2017 and beyond”.

Mr Barnett, who became British ambassador last August, hosted the reception to congratulate those who organised the Easter Rising commemorations.

He said he regretted not being there for the main events, but had been informed by his team that they had been conducted with “immense pride, honour and emotion”.

He said: “2016 was a very special year for Ireland. It brought people together in remembering a defining moment in the creation of the state of Ireland.

“The Irish people rightly showed great pride in the establishment of their State and the contribution of the Rising to it. It was also significant that all those killed in the Rising were remembered.”

Speaking at the same reception, Minister for Heritage Heather Humphreys said she had been “deeply moved by the power of volunteering, the love of country and locality, and a great sense of hope for our future” which had been apparent during the centenary year.