Government backs British royals’ invite to 1916 events

The Government has defended plans to invite members of the British royal family to take part in events to commemorate the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising.

About 5,000 people attended an event to mark the 98th anniversary of the rebellion yesterday, during which prayers of remembrance were held outside Dublin’s GPO and President Michael D Higgins laid a wreath to remember 450 people who lost their lives. The flag was lowered to half mast and a minute’s silence was observed at the event, also attended by Taoiseach Enda Kenny, to commemorate the Easter Rising which began on April 24, 1916.

The Proclamation of the Republic was read out by Capt Sean Coffey of the Defence Forces.

Afterwards, minister of state Brian Hayes said he “fundamentally disagrees” with those who say the British royal family should not be invited to the major events planned for 2016.

“This is now an international event and the idea that either the royal family or other countries in the EU wouldn’t be invited, I think is wrong.”

Sinn Féin held a separate commemoration, during which leader Gerry Adams accused the Government of “amnesia about the revolutionary period”. He launched his party’s plans for 2016, the centrepiece of which is a ‘Revolutionary Quarter’ around the buildings and streets where the Rising took place. He said preservation of key historical buildings was threatened by a planning application to build a shopping centre.

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