Unionists have not welcomed an invitation, extended by the former mayor of Belfast to commemorate the Easter Rising during 2016, the centenary of the 1916 revolution.

Former Belfast Lord Mayor and Sinn Fein activist Tom Hartley launched the program of events set to take place in the Northern Ireland city and emphasized that “dimensions and perspectives on the insurrection against British Rule in 1916 in Dublin [would] be reflected in the anniversary program."

Hartley extended an invitation for loyalists to take part.

He said “There will be some who will engage, others who won't. But we do think it is important for us from early on in this process to say, 'Look, we want this to be a period of hospitality, of bringing people in and getting other people's views and dealing with difficult views of 1916'. We have no difficulty with that."

However Nelson McCausland, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA), said republicans would be better off desisting from acts such as naming children’s playgrounds after terrorists and what he referred to as “this farcical commemoration,” according to the Belfast Telegraph.

McCausland said “The announcement by Sinn Fein about its program of events in Northern Ireland to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising is a poor attempt to hide the fact that in Ulster, the Easter Rising was an abject failure.”

SF centenary events launched @ Belfast City Hall Great debate between 2 actors about life in 1916 @sinnfeinireland pic.twitter.com/H9BIG0zDuE

— Cllr JJ Magee (@jjnorthbelfast) October 26, 2015
He continued “There was no rising in Ulster, and they have nothing locally to commemorate.

"Sinn Fein will attempt to rewrite history and present this republican failure as something glorious and inspirational, just as they attempt to rewrite the story of the recent terrorist campaign by the Provisional IRA.

"The best way to deal with that is for the truth to be told. Sinn Fein should not be allowed to forget the British soldiers and the civilians who were killed in Dublin in 1916 as a result of the rebellion."

The Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV) also advised unionists and loyalist against taking part in the Easter Rising commemoration events but the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) said individuals should decided on this matter for themselves.

A spokesperson for the PUP said "As unionists and loyalists, we don't think people will want to participate in any celebration events, however it is a matter for the individual to decide.

"The unionist and loyalist community will have their eyes firmly focused on remembering those who sacrificed their lives on the battlefields of France that very same year.

"On the other hand, there will be those who want to gain a better understanding of the conflict and British and Irish history, and that will be a personal choice for the individual."

The program of events to mark the centenary of 1916, in Belfast, includes parades, re-enactments, lectures, exhibitions, cycle tours and a commemorative walking trail. There will be a weekend of events focusing on the contribution of County Down-born suffragette, socialist and trade unionist, Winifred Carney, who acted as secretary to James Connolly, on the leaders of the Rising.

Speaking at the launch, in Belfast’s City Hall, Cassidy said "It's the greatest thing that has come to pass in the family that this is all happening for Winifred at the moment.

“The more people that get to know about her, the more pleased the family are going to be. I look around the City Hall and I think to myself if Winifred was still alive and seeing what was happening here in the City Hall she would be well pleased.”

Desmond Cassidy is a relative of 1916 leader & Belfast citizen Winifred Carney #Belfast2016 pic.twitter.com/0aKDUaeDpV

— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) October 26, 2015

Side view of the GPO, Sackville Place, in the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising.National Library of Ireland