Northern Ireland

Ulster Unionist Party considers holding its own Easter Rising event in Dublin

Mike Nesbitt said the event would be to challenge the causes and consequences of the Rising
Image caption Mike Nesbitt said the event would be to challenge the causes and consequences of the Rising

The Ulster Unionist Party is giving "active and positive consideration" to holding its own event in Dublin next year for the hundredth anniversary of the Easter Rising.

The party leader Mike Nesbitt says the event would be held "not to celebrate, but to challenge the causes and consequences of the Rising".

He says Ulster Unionists over recent years have gone to Grangegorman Cemetery in Dublin, where British soldiers who died in the Rising are buried - and they want to "enhance" this act of remembrance for the centenary.

2016 will mark 100 years since the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme.

Events will be held north and south of the Irish border to commemorate both.

In Northern Ireland, history is always complex and contentious.

The political historian Dr Eamon Phoenix said: "The problem has always been that we have a common history, but we don't have a common memory.

"One man's memory of 1916 is the Somme. Another's is the 'blood sacrifice' in Kilmainham Jail.

"But there is a consensus now among many people that this shaped all our histories, and we have to come to terms with it.

"As one famous historian said: 'to understand the past is to cease to live in it'."

Image caption Former Sinn Féin Lord Mayor Tom Hartley, is one of the organisers of a programme of events in Belfast

To republicans, the Easter Rising in Dublin is a defining episode.

Former Sinn Féin Lord Mayor Tom Hartley, is one of the organisers of a programme of events in Belfast.

He would like to see unionists play a role - though he acknowledges they would not want to be part of everything that is planned.

Mr Hartley said: "History doesn't run along parallel lines. There's no one narrative which covers our story.

"I would appreciate it if unionists came to a Féile, and presented a unionist critique of 1916, or explained why they see the Somme as so important.

"I think there are issues there which are very important for nationalists to hear."

The DUP says that in a "decade of centenaries" it is important that respect is maintained.

'Multiple identities'

On the Easter Rising, the party says: "No invitations have been received for attendance at any event, but it should be noted there was no rising within Ulster at that time and the focus will obviously be on Dublin.

"Commemorations of the Easter Rising will be important to many people but they are not something with which unionists will feel any affinity or are likely to want to participate in."

The SDLP says the centenary events should "reflect multiple identities and traditions".

The nationalist party says representatives would go to Easter Rising commemorations, because the SDLP "praises the proclamation's call for religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities, gender equality and universal suffrage".

The SDLP also says it will "fully engage" in Somme commemorations, "as a show of respect and reconciliation between our communities".

The party notes: "Many Irishmen who fought in the war died in the hope of securing Home Rule in Ireland and the sacrifice of these men should be remembered."

The Alliance Party says: "It is crucial the centenary of events should be undertaken in the light of the historic moves towards peace and reconciliation since 1998.

"Alliance is keen to find a way to engage but would not wish to participate in events which seek to give validity to violence without reference to its consequences."

There will be more on this story on The View on BBC One Northern Ireland at 22:35 GMT on Thursday.