UUP considering hosting 1916 event in Dublin.

Chris Page from the BBC reports this story;

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.

I think this on the face of it is a positive thing. There should be a debate about consequences of  the 1916 rising and its impact on Ireland.

Update-Here is what Mike Nesbitt sent out in his party bulletin today to the UUP membership

The Secretary of State was on BBC NI’s The View last night. A most interesting interview, because reading between the lines, Theresa Villiers was admitting that the meaningful talks have migrated from her home at Stormont House, back up the hill to the Castle, the domain of Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness. So, she is in the same place as we are: speculating. In her case, The Secretary of State thinks a deal next week is “possible” but not necessarily “probable”. The more interesting question for us is this: is it a deal we can support? With the information available, I cannot answer that question. What I can do is assure Ulster Unionists that we will judge any proposals on the extent to which they represent the greater good, rather than being good for the Sinn Féin/DUP duopoly at the heart of the current devolved government.

On the same programme, I revealed that I am working with a small team to explore how we might mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Let me assure you, we will not engage in unwarranted celebration. What we are considering covers the military, historical and political implications of what happened 100 years ago. (Emphasis added) On the military side, members already make an annual pilgrimage to Grangegorman in Dublin, to pay respects to those from the British Army killed and buried in the Military Cemetery there.

How we mark the historical and political implications are still under consideration, but I see no reason not to challenge the causes and consequences of the insurrection. For example, the Royal Commission on the Rebellion in Ireland, commissioned by King George V and presented to both Houses of Parliament, began its conclusions thus:

“… the general conclusion that we draw from the evidence before us is that the main cause of the rebellion appears to be that lawlessness was allowed to grow up unchecked, and that Ireland for several years past has been administered on the principle that it was safer and more expedient to leave law in abeyance if collision with any faction of the Irish people could thereby be avoided.”

How that conclusion resonates with the current Stormont House talks on continuing paramilitarism and associated criminality!

2016, of course, will also see the Centenary of the Battle of the Somme, and as I have done every 1st of July since becoming Leader, I shall travel to France to pay my respects at Thiepval (a memorial to all), the Ulster Tower (36th Ulster Division), and Guillemont (the 16th Irish Division).

Meanwhile, like many, I look forward to Sunday’s Remembrance events. I shall be at three, in Cloughey, Newtownards and Ballynahinch. Strangford has a long and deep tradition of service and sacrifice and like all Ulster Unionists, I will remember them this Sunday and Wednesday.

 

David McCann holds a PhD in North-South relations from University of Ulster. You can follow him on twitter @dmcbfs