A LEADING Irish-history academic has questioned the wisdom of
inviting a member of the British royal family to attend
celebrations of the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising in
two years' time. The Rising sparked off the revolution that led to
an independent Irish state.
The mooted invitation was first proposed last September by the
Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) of the Irish government, Eamon
Gilmore. In her speech at Windsor Castle for the state visit of the
Irish President, Michael D. Higgins, last month, the Queen appeared
to support the suggestion.
She said: "My family and my Government will stand alongside you,
Mr President, and your ministers, throughout the anniversaries of
the Great War and of the events that led to the creation of the
Irish Free State."
But, last month, Diarmuid Ferriter, Professor of Modern History
at University College, Dublin, said that Mr Gilmore's decision was
taken without consulting the expert advisory group on the
centenary, which includes himself and other leading historians.
Professor Ferriter said that the good relations between Britain
and Ireland had led to a noble aspiration to please and to include
everybody, but would not do justice to the historic divisions that
were there, and which needed to be understood.
"I'm worried that we are heading towards something that is full
of holes as to the historical reality at the time." The presence of
royalty would cause a significant distortion of the real history,