Easter Rising events programme should calm Government critics
Analysis: Comprehensive centenary plans should defuse complaint 1916 not marked with gravitas
The Government’s comprehensive programme of events for the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising should be enough to defuse the premature criticism that it was not taking the event seriously enough.
The centenary programme contains a number of infrastructural initiatives to provide a permanent legacy of the Rising along with a range of education and cultural events designed to involve people of all ages and all walks of life with the events of 100 years ago.
The practical side of the programme will support seven flagship capital projects including a new facility at the GPO in Dublin to house an interpretive and exhibition centre as well as the refurbishment of Kilmainham Gaol and Patrick Pearse’s cottage at Rosmuc in Connemara.
An addition to the centenary programme announced yesterday was the decision of the Government to buythe buildings at 14-17 Moore Street, where the rebel leaders decided to surrender.
The Defence Forces will be central to the formal State ceremonial events, a calendar of which is set out in the centenary programme.
A number of innovative events designed to get young people involved in understanding the events of 1916 are also included. An interesting one is to get all primary and secondary school pupils involved in writing a new proclamation for 2016 to reflect the values and hopes of the current generation of pupils.
Five themes are identified are underpinning the commemorations. They are remembering, reconciling, presenting, imagining and celebrating.
In the foreword
to the programme the Government stresses it is important that, as a State, the events are remembered in a way that is respectful and inclusive.
Naturally the emphasis is on the events of Easter week 1916 which played such an important part in ensuring that the dream of self-determination could become a reality but the programme does not seek to be exclusive.
There is reference to the fact that there was hardly a family in Ireland in 1916 that was not affected by the first World War; and it makes the point that being Irish is more complicated, more diverse and more interesting than we might sometimes have thought.
In contrast with the 50th anniversary celebrations in 1966, the point is well made that in honouring the dead of 1916 we should not be selective. The unfortunate civilians, who made up the biggest number of casualties, are finally being remembered.
“Civilian lives – adults, children alike – were lost. British Army and police personnel, many of them Irish, also died. All lives are equal in value and 2016 must be a year in which the narratives of everyone on the island of Ireland are included and heard.”