The Minister with responsibility for the Easter Rising commemorations has said Irish people “should not be afraid to celebrate how far we have come” as a nation since 1916.
In an opinion piece in The Irish Times today, Minster for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys writes: "Given my background as a Protestant and an Ulsterwoman who is a proud Irish republican, I appreciate the need to respect the differing traditions on this island.
“Over the past 100 years we have, I believe, grown as a nation that values and embraces our differences as a positive symbol of diversity rather than a negative source of division. In 2016 we should not be afraid to celebrate how far we have come and to challenge ourselves to consider what we want for this Republic in the future.”
She said Ireland was a more mature country than it was in 1966 when the 50th anniversary of the Rising was commemorated; and the 100th anniversary should reflect that fact.
“We are more than capable of accommodating – indeed welcoming – a diversity of views on the historical events of the 1916 period.
At the recent Fine Gael national conference, historian Prof Ronan Fanning urged that the Easter Rising commemorations should be a "shameless celebration" of nationhood.
Ms Humphreys said the commemorations would “not shy away from the harsh realities of conflict or seek to glorify violent bloodshed”.
The programme for next year’s commemorations will be unveiled this evening at Collins Barracks in Dublin.
The Rising commemoration programme will include an exhibition of 1916 material which will open at the National Museum.
The National Library is developing a major online resource will include thousands of letters and artefacts from the seven signatories and others.
A renewed emphasis will be put on the women involved in the Rising.
"Never again will we airbrush out the significant contribution of the women who helped us achieve our freedom," the Minister wrote, signalling among those to be honoured would be Margaret Skinnider, who was shot and injured during the Rising; and nurse Elizabeth O'Farrell, who accompanied Patrick Pearse when he surrendered.
The programme will include an educational dimension. Schoolchildren will be asked to reflect on the meaning of the Proclamation and its ideals. They will also be asked to reconnect with the national flag and its meaning of uniting Catholics and Protestants.
Ms Humphreys added: “At some point in our lives we all take stock. 2016 is a chance for the Irish nation to take stock. It is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reflect on the kind of Ireland that we have, and the kind of Ireland that we want to bring about and it is an opportunity to reflect on the kind of society we aspire to achieve.”