Unionists snub 'terrorist' Rising
Ulster Unionists have rejected an invitation to attend a ceremony
to mark the 1916 Easter Rising and the declaration of the Irish
Republic, describing it as an "act of terrorism".
The Dublin government confirmed plans last week to invite
unionist representatives to witness a military ceremony at the
General Post Office in Dublin's O'Connell Street, marking the
90th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.
A ceremony in June for soldiers killed in the First World War
Battle of the Somme was also planned as a gesture to the unionist
Ulster Unionist spokesman welcomed the Somme commemoration, but
expressed hostility to the Rising event.
"The Easter insurgency which took place during the Great War led
to the death of approximately 30 rebels, 200 British servicemen
and over 200 innocent Dublin citizens," the East Belfast
"It took place at a time when 300,000 Irishmen of all religions
were serving as volunteers in the British army, 50,000 of whom
gave their lives.
"It heralded the end of the long and honourable tradition of
constitutional Irish nationalism and brought to the fore the
blood sacrifice ethos of armed republicanism which led directly
to the partition of this island and the Irish civil war."
The move is a blow to continuing efforts to play down the
nationalist and republican aspect of the Easter Rising, which
ultimately led to the liberation of the 26 Counties from British
More than 2,500 members of the 26 County Army and members of the
Garda police will take part in the government-sponsored 90th
It is the first military Easter parade to be held in forty years
due to nervousness over the potential for the display to stir
patriotic feelings in Irish people. The last significant
commemoration of the Rising took place on the fiftieth
anniversary in 1966.
The events of Easter 1916 remain largely taboo in the 26 Counties
and patriotic retrospectives are frowned upon by pro-unionist
commentators and politicians. Recent comments by the Irish
President Mary McAleese that the Easter Rising had not been a
"sectarian enterprise" were considered controversial by the
Around 2,500 personnel representing all branches of the defence
forces, together with representatives of former service personnel
and veterans of UN service, will be included. A fly-past by the
Air Corps is also envisaged. The parade will depart from Dublin
Castle and go past Dame Street, College Green and O'Connell
There will also be a reading of the Proclamation outside the
General Post Office and appropriate military honours will be
Sinn Fein's Caoimhghin O Caolain has welcomed the commemorative
events but said they "shouldn't be just sombre military affairs
but rather community and civic-led celebrations that should look
forward to fulfilling the objectives of those who took on the
might of the British empire 90 years ago."