State's Decade of Centenaries Commemorations in doubt thanks to government – Peadar Tóibín TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson for Heritage, Peadar Tóibín TD today questioned the absence of a Consultation Group on Commemorations. This government’s unwillingness to reinstate this group means that the Decade of Centenaries will not be properly commemorated.
Speaking today Deputy Tóibín said:
“The Government got off to a very shaky start in its commemoration of the 1916 rising a number of years ago. Thankfully an All-Party Consultation Group on Commemorations was formed which led to the successful Centenary event that captivated the nation.
“At the time it was the stated aim of the government to provide a decade of centenaries which would mark each of the main occasions from 1912 to 1921. Why has the government lost interest in commemorating the republican revolution? Or maybe the answer is in the question.
“As the 100 year anniversary of the 1916 rising approached many in Fine Gael seemed very uncomfortable. The Redmondite Wing which is alive and well within Fine Gael articulated an embarrassed reluctance to commemorate the seminal event that led to the foundation of this state.
“People such as John Bruton seemed to believe that the only decent Irish soldier before 1922 was one dressed in a British uniform.
“Out of such Fine Gael dissonance sprung the idea of the decade of centenaries. The government sought a moral equivalence to each of the actions of the turbulent period between 1912 and 1921.
“While Sinn Féin believes that the Easter Rising of 1916 is the most important event of that period there is a diversity of opinion on this issue on the island of Ireland and it is logical that all strands of nationalism and unionism should be included in these commemorations.
“This year 2017 sees the 100th anniversary of the by-election victories of the Sinn Féin candidates, Count Plunkett, WT Cosgrave, Eamonn De Valera and Joseph McGuinness.
“What has your department done to commemorate these events. Is it up to Sinn Féin, ourselves alone to commemorate these seminal events in the development of our democracy?
“Sinn Féin is not the owner of republicanism. Anyone whose objective it is to implement the proclamation can earn the right to be called a republican. But you can’t complain that we commandeer these events when your Government doesn’t bother to make them happen.”