10 April 2006

1916 march ‘to honour deeds of Irish army’

Daily Ireland

Ahern sidesteps heroes of Easter to praise modern armed forces


It is important for people to come out onto the streets of Dublin to join in the march celebrating the 90th Anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said yesterday.
In a statement sure to anger republicans, Mr Ahern says the event is primarily to honour the Irish Army, and shied away from directly praising the men and women of 1916.
His contention follows the decision by the coalition government to mark the occasion with a military parade.
Mr Ahern said people should commemorate what the Irish Army has done for the country.
“It is important for people to acknowledge not only what Oglaigh na hEireann do in Ireland, and our Irish army have done that so well, but also commemorate what they have done for the United Nations and are doing for the United Nations all over the world,” he said.
“They are the descendants of 1916.
“I think people will always want to acknowledge the spirit and the achievements of our army and also it is an inclusive occasion.
“We all come from divided pasts but I think we want to work into the future together.
“It is important that we can commemorate these issues.”
At the launch of the new commemorative 1916 exhibition ‘The Easter Rising: Understanding 1916’ in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, Mr Ahern said he hoped people would visit the museum to see the materials detailing the decade of disturbance between 1913 and 1923.
In a speech to the audience gathered for the launch, he said: “This Easter, we must renew our republicanism by marrying new ideas to steadfast values.
“We must begin a great national conversation on what it means to be Irish, on the values that we hold and on the hopes that we cherish. We have a duty to honour the dead generations who have gone before us. In the coming week, Ireland will again discharge that duty.
“We also have a solemn duty to vindicate the living generations who will come after us.”
The exhibition examines the change in people’s opinion towards supporting the Rising, triggered by the execution of many of its leaders. An original copy of the Proclamation of Independence, donated only last month to the National Museum at Collins Barracks, takes a central position in the exhibit.
Other items include the illuminated manuscript, Leabhar na hAiseirghe (Book of Resurrection), created by Art O’Murnaghan to commemorate those who died on O’Connell Street and elsewhere in he struggle for independence. Mr Ahern said the State held a large body of material related to the civil war which has been unavailable to scholars and the public.
This includes the Military Pensions Archive, relating to the old IRA pensions, numbering some 17,000 successful applications. Mr Ahern said a working group was being established to report back on requirements to preserve and archive these materials.

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