Relatives of those who fought and died in the 1916 Rising fear they will be denied invitations to the centenary celebrations. The Irish Times reports on the families' concerns that the centenary commemoration will remain the preserve of VIPs, dignitaries and relatives of executed leaders. The Irish government has already publicly invited the queen and other members of the British royal family.
The paper reports that families of ordinary combatants in the Rising have already raised the issue with Irish PM Enda Kenny and government ministers.
Gerry Carroll’s father fought in the GPO and the 79-year-old told the Irish Times that he was told by a Department of Defence official that it is ‘highly unlikely’ he or his family would be receiving their regular, annual invitation to the centenary ceremony.
The report adds that Carroll’s brother Derick is a constituent of Kenny’s. He approached Kenny at the Easter Sunday event in the GPO where he handed him copies of correspondence with the department, determined to get clarity.
Kenny later emailed a response, which said that the department is "doing its best to facilitate early enquiries regarding invitations to that commemoration.”
Carroll responded: “It’s disgusting, so bloody evasive. A typical politician saying absolutely nothing.”
The Department of Defence told the paper that it could not confirm invitations to families until ‘details on the scale’ of the event are established.
Carroll also revealed details of a conversation with an official who left him with little hope the five members of his family would be on hand to mark 100 years since his father Patrick, then 18, fought and hid from British forces in Dublin.
He said: “The official was quite emphatic that it was highly unlikely that we will be there based on what she was hearing in her department.
“She said because there are so many dignitaries being invited, her understanding was that the relatives of the signatories and those that were executed will be invited, but there would be no room for everyone else.”
Another relative, Dave Kilmartin, told the paper he had been in touch with numerous ‘garrison families’ who are ‘extremely upset and just want to know.’
Three of his relatives were involved in the Rising. He added that their principal concern is that they will be edged out in favour of a list of dignitaries and VIPs.
Kilmartin said: “You won’t see them at annual commemorations in 2017.”