Plans for public holiday to mark 1916 Rising rejected

The Government has rejected Sinn Féin plans for an annual public holiday starting next year to mark the 1916 Rising, despite opposition claims coalition advisers backed the move two years ago.

Equality Minister Aodhán Ó Ríordáin turned down the proposed Lá na Poblachta — a national independence day — after it was raised by Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh, and backed by Fianna Fáil.

Speaking during a Dáil debate on the issue yesterday, Mr Ó Snodaigh said the proposed legislative change would see April 24 become an annual national holiday.

Mr Ó Snodaigh also said the issue would address the gap between Ireland’s nine public holidays and the EU average of 11, and that when he raised it “in February 2013 at the all-party commemorations committee I received the backing of the Government’s advisers, albeit for a single year’s holiday next year”.

However, Mr Ó Ríordáin said the Coalition will not back the plan as “there was no demand” during previous 1916 Rising commemoration research, that it would “seriously dilute” existing Easter-based Rising celebrations, and that the plan has not been properly costed.

He said the Rising events next year must be a “time for reflection, celebration, and commemoration” and should not be based on a “singular narrative” from one group. The opposition plan is expected to be voted down by the Government on Tuesday.

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