23 February 2006

No 1916 invite for British soldiers

Irish Independent

Senan Molony
Political Correspondent

THERE are no plans to invite British soldiers to the military parade marking the 90th Anniversary of the 1916 Rising, sources closed to Defence Minister Willie O'Dea made clear yesterday.

But the British military attache is expected to be invited to a State reception to be held in Dublin Castle on the night of the parade in limited acknowledgment of the adversaries faced by the volunteers of Easter week.

The decision not to seek any visible British involvement beyond diplomatic protocol has been taken on the basis that the parade "will be about remembering and honouring the men and women of 1916".

Last year, French dignitaries were invited to the 200th anniversary celebrations of the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, with French warships joining a celebration fleet in The Solent and in recent years, German politicians have been formally invited to attend D-Day ceremonies.

Yesterday, Fianna Fail Senator Martin Mansergh clashed with Labour deputy leader, Liz McManus on the question of honouring all the dead of the Rising, including civilians and British casualties.

Senator Mansergh asked if it was being suggested that a statue should be erected of General Maxwell, the British officer commanding, who accepted Pearse's surrender and imposed martial law on the city. He pointed out that the 50 civilian victims of the fighting had all been killed by British soldiers.

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