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Royal presence to mark Irish centenary challenged

02 May 2014


Contemporary picture: an archive photograph taken on 25 April 1916 shows O'Connell Street, Dublin, during the Easter rising 

Contemporary picture: an archive photograph taken on 25 April 1916 shows O'Connell Street, Dublin, during the Easter rising 

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, he said.


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