Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations member Diarmaid Ferriter questions Royal visit in 2016

Friday 11 April 2014 17.26
Diarmaid Ferriter questioned if it is appropriate for a Royal to visit Ireland as part of the the Easter Rising celebrations.
Diarmaid Ferriter questioned if it is appropriate for a Royal to visit Ireland as part of the the Easter Rising celebrations.

Historian and member of the Expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemorations Diarmaid Ferriter has questioned if it is appropriate for a Royal to visit Ireland as part of the the Easter Rising celebrations.

On Wednesday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny welcomed Britain's Queen Elizabeth's endorsement of the suggestion that a Royal might attend some of the commemorations.

He said these events had to be handled sensitively but he would welcome any royal involvement.

However, speaking on Today with Sean O'Rourke about a proposed visit to Ireland by a member of the Royal family in 2016, Mr Ferriter wondered would it be appropriate.

He said: ''The question of course now is where do you bring this, how appropriate how wise is it to invite members of the Royal family to Dublin in 2016.

“It does seem to me that they have left themselves wriggle room, I don’t think it will be the Queen, it’s unlikely to be a senior royal figure but even the very idea of a royal in Dublin in 2016 - is that appropriate?

“Who should be consulted about it? Is this an issue for the State?

"Does the legacy of 1916 not belong to the people, is this something that has been decided behind the scenes and now they are going to decide where exactly they are going to fit them in?”

Mr Ferriter said there was a difference between commemoration and history.

He continued: “Will that mean that in 2016, the big focus and the big story will be the royal presence in Dublin as opposed to us trying to understand what 1916 was all about and the motivations of those who were involved. 

"There’s a big difference between commemoration and history.

“Commemoration is propelled by contemporary political priorities, by the peace process, by all that we have heard there, there's nothing wrong with that, it can be very, very positive, and this was a very positive visit, history is different.

“History is about trying to understand nuance, and context and what motivated people and what evidence is there to make us realise what motivated people.

“I would question the appropriateness and the wisdom of the focus being on the royal presence in Dublin in 2016''.

When asked about the possibility of a “minor royal” could visiting, perhaps on Easter Tuesday he said: ''Not even a minor royal either, I wonder whether we need any royals, do we have to share everything now?''

"Reconciliation is very important but do we have to share everything.

“What message do they want to send out in 2016 about what is being marked, you have to be mindful.

"I presume what the Taoiseach is referring to is an expert advisory group that was appointed by the state two years ago of which I am a member and the idea is that we would advise the state on how they might approach certain of the commemorations and remember there's a difference between the official State commemorations and what people might choose to do outside of that.

“The idea is the Government will make a decision, or even, has made a decision that there will be a royal presence or they will be invited and then perhaps they are going to ask an advisory committee where should they be placed."