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A guard of honour at an event commemorating the 98th anniversary of the Easter Rising. Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Relatives boycott launch of 1916 commemorations, calling it a 'political stunt'

A group that represents 850 relatives is boycotting tonight’s event, despite Minister Humphrey’s assurances that Ireland 2016 will be “inclusive”.

Updated: 10pm

A GROUP REPRESENTING relatives of those who took part in the 1916 Rising have boycotted the launch of the Government’s series of commemoration events.

The 1916 Relatives Association dismissed tonight’s event at the GPO as “stunt politics”.

The group said they have “no confidence” in Arts Minister Heather Humphreys, after she “clearly demonstrated she had no understanding as to the plans for 2016″ at a meeting yesterday.

The association said that they were unhappy when details of the planned events reported in the media today differed from what a senior official from Humphrey’s department had told them yesterday.

Una McNulty, a spokesperson for the association, said that its members felt like they had only been invited to tonight’s event “merely to act as pawns in a political stunt that wants us there simply as a photo opportunity”.

As far as we are concerned yesterday’s meeting was like a day at the dentist as it felt like trying to pull teeth when trying to get answers from the Minister and her officials. We had given her the benefit of the doubt, but feel the relatives of those involved in 1916 have been treated with contempt and disrespect.

McNulty added that the relatives have been “left in limbo and lied to when it comes to their inclusion in commemorations”.


A spokesperson for the Minister, however, told this evening that a number of relatives were at the launch event and were “very supportive of plans”.

“While it’s disappointing that some of the relatives turned down the Minister’s invite to attend tonight’s launch, Minister Humphreys remains committed to engaging with them as the relatives are an important facet of our commemorations.

“This is reflected in the fact that 1916 relatives will lead the military parade on Easter Sunday 2016. Ireland 2016 is focussed on community involvement and the Minister wants to encourage as many people as possible to get involved.”

Speaking at the launch of Ireland 2016, Humphreys herself said that the series of events were designed to “remember, honour, inspire and motivate”.

She said that relatives of the 1916 participants are being given “a special role in a number of key State events, in recognition of the sacrifice made by their family members”.

I will also be reaching out to the Diaspora through our Embassy Network and Culture Ireland, to ensure Ireland 2016 reaches a global audience. Inclusivity is at the heart of my approach to the Commemorations; I want to encourage everyone to get involved in their own way so we can make 2016 a year of imagination and inspiration.

A series of events will take place in Dublin and throughout the country to mark the centenary.

At the launch Taoiseach Enda Kenny stated that 2016 “presents us with a once-in-a-century opportunity to create events of celebration and remembrance that are of value in themselves but that also contribute to a greater sense of who we are, what we want to be as a people, what achievements we aspire to for ourselves and for our children”.

His speech was interrupted by a protester who was removed from the venue.

Meanwhile, Tánaiste Joan Burton said she hoped that the commemorations “will leave a lasting legacy – in the form of community events involving local historical societies and community organisations”.

Originally published: 8pm

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