During a debate on Ireland 2016 at the Fine Gael party's national conference in Castlebar, County Mayo, Ronan Fanning, University College Dublin Professor Emeritus of History said the Easter Rising centenary should be a “recognition of historical reality” and should be a “shameless celebration.”
Comparing the Easter Rising to the revolutionary beginnings of other governments, he asked the audience “did the American government shrink from the bicentenary of the decisive moment in the birth of the United State because that state was born out of war?”
“Does the French government shrink from the annual celebration of Bastille Day notwithstanding the appalling bloodshed of the French Revolution?”
He said “we should insist that whatever government will be in power, must unwaveringly lead the nation at home and abroad in unabashed celebration of the seminal moment in the birth of the Irish Republic.”
However much “we may condemn political violence we cannot dispute that it is an invariable component in wresting independence from colonial powers.”
He said the fact “that the birth certificate of this State, in common with that of so many other states, is stained with blood must not mean that 2016 cannot be an occasion for shameless celebration.”
Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan said that whatever government is in power next year “we cannot allow the centenary commemorations themselves to become a divisive issue.”
He said that “there is a nervousness across many political representatives and community leaders in the North about the centenary of the Rising and how it will be commemorated.”
He added, “where the annual marking of a 1690 battle can still lead to violence on the streets, this anxiety should not be surprising or underestimated.”
He said should be a collective approach to respecting both North and South’s key commemorations, the Irish Times reports.
“The aim should be to broaden sympathies, without having to abandon loyalties.”
Flanagan said there would be no members of the British royal family at the events, but they should consider what events “it may well be appropriate to invite our international partners, at a suitable level, to join with us to reflect on the events of 1916.”
Minister of State for the Diaspora Jimmy Deenihan said of Fine Gael that “as a party we have come from 1916.”
He said 2016 should be a “commemoration not a celebration.”
However, a speaker from the floor remarked that “when you overdo sensitive, you arrive at apology.”
Another speaker from the floor suggested that a copy of the 1916 proclamation should be issued to every house in Ireland. One speaker said the debate should have been held in the main auditorium instead of a side room and should have been on television.
Fanning agreed, saying “this shouldn’t be tucked away in a corner.”
Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys said during her speech that “we need to reclaim our flag.”
She went on to outline plans for commemorative events, including school projects to teach students about the Irish flag and what the green, white and orange represented.
She said it was “unfair that some have used our flag to portray a different message and we need to reclaim our flag and can do that through our schools and children.”
The schedule of events would also include a military parade past the GPO on O’Connell Street on Easter Sunday, “where relatives will play a key role.”
There would be a special State reception for relatives on Easter Saturday, an interfaith Service at St Mary’s Pro-Cathedral on Easter Monday and a commemoration at Arbour Hill on Sunday, April 24th.
“We will remember the 1916 signatories and all those who fought and those who lost their lives in the Rising in a fitting and appropriate way.”
“Let’s make 2016 the year of Irish,” she said.