Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has accused the Irish government of attempting to “dumb down” Easter 1916 and of seeking to draw equivalence between the Rising and the First World War.
He said the 1916 Proclamation remained “unfinished business” and now was the time for a border poll on a united Ireland.
Adams was speaking in Dublin at a separate event from the official state Easter 1916 commemoration.
He said the Fine Gael/Labour government hadn’t yet set out its proposed centenary commemorative program for 2016. “Its whole approach so far has been to dumb down the revolutionary period of 1916 and its aftermath,” Adams said.
Adams added that clearly the First World War was an important historic event and, given the numbers of Irishmen, Nationalist and Unionist, who fought and died, it was important that it was remembered.
Then he insisted, “However, the Easter Rising was a defining part of the revolutionary period in Ireland and was a strike for the freedom of the Irish nation. There can be no equivalence between the two.”
He said partition was stunting Ireland’s potential – politically, socially and economically. The 1916 goal of a united Ireland was “unfinished business which the vast majority of the Irish people want to see brought to completion.”
He and Sinn Fein believe it is time to let the people have their say in a border poll which would provide an opportunity to begin building a modern, dynamic, new Ireland.
At the official state commemorationat the General Post Office in Dublin, Public Service Reform Minister Brian Hayes said that he fundamentally disagreed with those who believed members of Britain’s royal family should not be invited to take part in the 2016 centenary commemoration of the Easter Rising.
“This is now an international event and the idea that either the royal family or other countries in the European Union wouldn’t be invited, I think is wrong. We’ve come a long way and we need to celebrate together,” he said.
“The fact that the royal family or a member of the British government would come here is a positive thing and I think we need to be open and tolerant to that.”
A wreath was laid by President Michael D. Higgins, followed by a minute’s silence and then the "Last Post" and "Reveille." The ceremony concluded with the National Anthem as an Air Corps flypast took place.