14 March 2006

Fury At Easter Rising Invite

News Letter

By Stephen Dempster Political Editor
Tuesday 14th March 2006

THE British Government has sparked outrage by deciding to send a representative to the Easter Rising celebrations in Dublin. British Ambassador to Ireland Stewart Eldon will attend events marking the 1916 anti-British uprising, it was confirmed last night.
Ulster Unionist peer Lord Kilclooney, who was told of the plan in a written answer to a question he tabled in the House of Lords, said he was "amazed". "Our ambassador is to join with Gerry Adams and Bertie Ahern in marking the rebellion against British rule in Ireland," he said. DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson called the The ambassador will be celebrating the murder of British police officers and soldiers in an act of terrorism directed at the British State, he said. UUP MLA Danny Kennedy said: "It's totally disgraceful." Lord Kilclooney asked "how Her Majesty's Government will be represented at the 90th anniversary celebrations in Dublin of the Easter Rising of 1916 against United Kingdom Rule?" On behalf of the Government, Lord Triesman of Tottenham responded: "The Irish government plans to invite representatives of the Diplomatic Corps in Dublin to attend the events to mark the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Our ambassador to Ireland therefore plans to attend." The Irish republican rebellion of Easter Monday 1916 took place as Britain fought World War One with Germany. Around 450 people - 250 civilians - died that week.
The uprising was suppressed and its leaders executed but it was a significant stepping-stone in the eventual creation of the Irish Republic. Irish president Mary McAleese courted controversy in the South recently by making an impassioned speech about the event.
"It's bizarre that the British Ambassador should be invited to these celebrations in the first place," said Mr Donaldson. "After all, this is about celebrating the deaths of British soldiers, British policemen in the old Royal Irish Constabulary and innocent civilians. "The Easter Rising was an act of terrorism directed against the British State and that a representative of that state should in anyway be involved in an event glorifying such actions is most unwelcome." Mr Kennedy said: "It's quite astonishing that the Government would be even prepared to acknowledge the events, let alone participate. "I think most people will be astonished. Bizarre is the only word for it." Earlier this month, Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern issued an invite to unionists to attend the Easter Rising celebrations - in conjunction with a Battle of the Somme commemoration - but acknowledged that his offer would be rejected. He explained he had made the invitation in a spirit of friendliness and hoped it would be seen in this way.

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