Queen’s remarks mean Easter Rising centenary might have royal attendee

2016 calendar filling up with elections, Dáil recess and commemorations

In her speech the queen said: “My family and my government will stand alongside you, Mr President, and your Ministers, throughout the anniversaries of the war and of the events that led to the creation of the Irish Free State.” Photograph: Reuters/Dan Kitwood/Pool

In her speech the queen said: “My family and my government will stand alongside you, Mr President, and your Ministers, throughout the anniversaries of the war and of the events that led to the creation of the Irish Free State.” Photograph: Reuters/Dan Kitwood/Pool

 

The 2016 calendar has taken on new significance following Queen Elizabeth’s signals that a member of the British royal family might come to Dublin to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

The Dáil has to be dissolved at the latest by March 6th, 2016 and a general election must take place within 30 days.

Easter that year comes early, on March 27th, so technically an election could take place after the commemorations.

There has been some speculation in Leinster House that the Fine Gael/Labour Government would like to delay as long as possible, but the danger of boxing themselves in is a lesson all politicians learn early.

In any case, the plans for the Easter Rising centenary commemorations will have to be laid long before Taoiseach Enda Kenny decides to go to the country – perhaps up to a year in advance.

In her speech at the state banquet in Windsor Castle on Tuesday evening, Queen Elizabeth was as direct as monarchs can ever be: “My family and my government will stand alongside you, Mr President, and your Ministers, throughout the anniversaries of the war and of the events that led to the creation of the Irish Free State.”

In the foreign office in London yesterday, Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said the commemorations, all of them to come over the next few years, had been discussed at length by the two governments.

‘Shared history’
“Both the British and Irish governments are conscious that we should do this together and commemorate the things that we share together; this is a shared history,” he said, as he stood beside British foreign secretary William Hague.

Hague, a historian of note in his own right, agreed: “With all these very important centenaries coming up over the next four years, it is very important for us to commemorate these things together in a way that helps to bring people together for the future.”

Asked if his remarks specifically covered the Easter Rising anniversary, he told The Irish Times : “All the events of that period. Remember how many lives were lost in so many conflicts around the world . . .with all of them, including the Easter Rising, it is important to remember those principles.”

The queen’s words – the results of weeks, if not months, of polishing and crafting – were not accidental.

Nor have they been misinterpreted, but, equally, they should not be taken as a guarantee that the words of the Easter proclamation will be heard by a royal ear in two years’ time on O’Connell Street.

Nor should they be taken as a declaration that she herself will come, which is unlikely; or even that a visit by a royal personage to mark the rising would take place at the same time as the main event outside the GPO. Wriggle room still remains.

Nevertheless, the signals are clear. If possible, both governments want it to happen. So, too, does Queen Elizabeth.