herald

Wednesday 7 December 2016

No foreign heads of state will attend 1916 events

HISTORY

NO FOREIGN heads of state or ministers will be attending events marking the centenary of the 1916 Rising, the Herald can reveal.

Ambassadors will be the highest level of foreign dignitaries at the celebrations, the Government has decided.

The programme of events to mark the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, called Ireland 2016, was launched last year.

The Government had initially indicated the British monarchy could play a role, following the successful visit of Michael D Higgins to the UK last year and Queen Elizabeth's historic visit to Ireland in 2011. However, it was later decided such a visit could prove to be a "distraction" and take from the events.

Sensitive

The matter was raised in email exchanges between the Government and the British ambassador to Ireland, Dominick Chilcott, marked "sensitive", which have been released under Freedom of Information laws.

In March this year an official in the Anglo-Irish division of the Department of Foreign Affairs wrote to Mr Chilcott providing him with the State's "public line in response to any question about inviting high-level visitors to the core Easter 2016 events".

"The events in the Ireland 2016 State Ceremonial programme will be moments for national commemoration.

"Therefore, high-level representatives of Ireland's international partners will not be in attendance at these Easter events (although as is normal for many State ceremonial events, members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Ireland may be invited)."

The Department of Foreign Affairs last night confirmed this remains the Government's position on the matter.

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