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Heather Humphreys Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
rising hopes

Humphreys' charm offensive with 1916 relatives ahead of 'big announcement'

Relatives had been wavering on whether they’d attend a large-scale press event at the GPO this evening.

ONE OF THE groups representing relatives of the men and women who fought in the 1916 Rising held what they’re calling a ‘private’ meeting with Arts & Heritage Minister Heather Humphreys yesterday — just over 24 hours before the Government unveils its framework plan for the centenary commemorations.

Humphreys — alongside Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton — will launch the much-anticipated 2016 draft programme at an event in Dublin’s GPO tonight.

The 1916 Relatives Association, which has some 300 members, has been critical of the Government’s planning for 2016 in recent months.

At a meeting just a few weeks ago, speakers accused the coalition of “the utmost ineptitude at basic planning” and managing of events.

The group has also complained that relatives are being left ‘in limbo’ on the issue of inclusion in commemorations.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie in the wake of a meeting with the Minister last evening, a spokesperson for the group said the meeting had been largely positive, and that the group would be sending representatives to tonight’s announcement.

Earlier in the day, the same spokesperson had been critical of the GPO event, and said the group would seek further information from the Department before deciding whether or not to attend.

“The proof of the pudding is in the eating, so we’ll see how tonight’s event goes,” the spokesperson said, declining to be drawn further.

It’s understood the meeting lasted around 40 minutes, and was attended by senior officials from the Department in addition to the Minister.

‘Inclusion’

“I will be keen to encourage and facilitate the involvement of ‘ground-up’ initiatives to ensure local communities can put their own shape on the commemorations as we move towards 2016,” Humphreys said last week, in an answer to a parliamentary question. 

This process will build on the contacts that have been made, as part of the ongoing commemorative programme since 2012, with a wide range of bodies and community groups throughout the country, who are already engaged in preparing their own projects and contributions to the 2016 commemorations.

She said the commemorations “will acknowledge the service and achievements of the personnel involved with a special consideration to include their descendants and relatives”.

My Department is anxious to include all interested parties in this consultation around the draft programme for the commemoration of the 1916 Rising and the associated events, including 1916 Relatives’ Groups.

The relatives association is planning to launch its own programme of commemorative events this weekend, with details of that announcement yet to be confirmed.

Read: Invite a royal to 2016? Should we have the Kaiser’s relatives too? — O’Cuiv

Read: Delay leaves tight, tight deadline to finish 1916 museum 

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