Defence Forces will take part in 1916 commemorations, says Coveney

Minister for Defence says there will be a ‘march-past’ at the GPO, amid concerns that Government wanted to ‘tone down’ the military side of the Rising

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney: “Significant" role for Defence Forces in 1916 centenary commemorations. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Minister for Defence Simon Coveney: “Significant" role for Defence Forces in 1916 centenary commemorations. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Ireland’s Defence Forces will play a “significant” role in the Easter Rising centenary commemorations, according to Minister for Defence Simon Coveney.

He told the Dáil a march-past “involving significant military input” would follow the ceremonial event at the GPO.

The military would also participate in a wreath-laying ceremony at Kilmainham Gaol in 2016, he said.

Mr Coveney added that the Arbour Hill commemoration would be held on Sunday April 24th, the actual centenary of the Rising on Easter Monday 1916, and will include a requiem Mass for those who died in the Rising, followed by a graveside ceremony, including inter-faith prayers.

Independent TD Terence Flanagan said some Defence Forces personnel had expressed concern the military side might be toned down by the Government, “but we should not forget the military nature of 1916”.

He also highlighted the importance of striking a balance “between celebrating the Rising and respecting the sensitivities of others. We do not want the commemorations to be hijacked.”

Mr Coveney said members of both the Permanent and Reserve Defence Forces as well as former members wanted to participate.

“We will do what we can to ensure this is a year in which everybody in Ireland, including in particular those in the Defence Forces who commit their lives to the defence and security of the State, can participate in the commemorations.”

The Government was “broadly ambitious” about appropriate commemorations for everyone, regardless of background and he was confident the Defence Forces “will add to that in an appropriate manner”.