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Commemorations

Irish citizens called on to 'reclaim the vision of 1916'

A new group group launched their plans today.

PEOPLE ACROSS IRELAND are being called on to reclaim the vision of 1916 in the lead- up to the historic Easter Rising next year.

The call was made by a group calling itself Reclaim the Vision of 1916, which held its first press conference in Dublin today.

It has over 50 patrons from across the world of political action, arts, trade unionism, and activism, and at its launch were figures including artist Robert Ballagh, historian Mary Cullen, activist James Connolly Heron, and trade unionist John Douglas.

The move comes after the Irish Government was heavily criticised for its announcement about the 1916 Easter Rising commemoration events in Ireland.

Proclamation

Speaking at the launch, Ballagh said that the main concern was to ensure there would be an appropriate commemoration of 1916. He said the three goals of the movement are:

  • Organising mass mobilisation for a parade on 24 April 2016
  • Holding a national seminar in the spring of 2016
  • Putting together a significant publication on the Rising.

Reclaim the Vision of 1916 will be officially launched at a public rally in Dublin at Easter 2015. It is hoped that at the end of the initiative “there will be a deeper understanding of the need for a real Irish democracy and what that would mean”.

The group has written its own version of Proclamation, where it says that:

Today, despite the long striving of many of our people to see the ideals of 1916 made real in the lives of the citizens, we find ourselves obliged to reassert the right of the people to govern themselves in a sovereign independent Republic.

It also says that it wants Ireland “to develop a culture that fosters and encourages independence of thinking and action”.

The hope is that individuals and groups throughout the country will affiliate to the initiative and participate in the national events, as well as organising their own activities. People are invited to contact the group with ideas.

Debate

Mary Cullen said what she would like to see is the movement “to develop and encourage debate everywhere, among citizens.”

“I think that is the very best way we can honour 1916,” she said.

The very best way we can commemorate that is as citizens, irrespective of what the government does, develop our ideas of what a republic should be. I think it has to come from the bottom up.

She said the ideas in the Proclamation can be taken and built on.

“Republic citizenship, when you go back to classical thinkers of Greece, it is about citizens building the country, it’s not about governments telling them what to do. I think that is what 1916 is all about.”

She said she feels very positive about a movement like this happening.

Ballagh said that the organisers don’t insist that all groups involved endorse every line of their re-written constitution, and that there is room for debate.

Criticism of Government plans

James Connolly Heron, a descendent of James Connolly, criticised the Government for not having yet produced a calendar programme for the commemorations.

“This is history we can touch,” he said of the Rising. He said it was disappointing that there was no programme for conservation of 1916 buildings yet announced by the Government.

He also described the No 16 Moore St building is in a “shanty town state” while “the State does nothing”.

At the event, the government’s plan for 2016 was criticised for not having clarity. Ballagh said they were not “attacking” the government, but they are disappointed.

On the issue of a member of the Royal Family attending the commemorations in Ireland, Ballagh said that it is an issue of relevance.

He said that the people of 1916 were anti-Imperialists who went out to fight the British army, “so to invite along members of the British Royal Family who were in fact representatives of the British Army to attend this event would be singularly inappropriate, I believe”.

He also said that if he was a relative of someone who was executed “I would be offended that a member of the British Royal Family would be on the viewing stand”.

Connolly Heron said he too thought it inappropriate. But he said that when this was put to relatives before, they agreed it would be like “discussing the guestlist before the party”. “It seems to be the cart before the horse,” he said.

Reclaim the Vision of 1916 will be privately funded and will be setting up a fundraising committee. It won’t be seeking government funding.

Read: 1916 commemorations get another €2 million boost>

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