The Abbey Theatre says it chose the best and most relevant plays for "Waking The Nation 2016", and did not programme on the basis of gender or sexuality.

It follows criticism of the theatre on social media today over a lack of plays written by women on its programme for next year.

A spokesperson for the Abbey said this season ran from January to September and that did not mean that it would not be announcing plays by female playwrights for the end of the year.

Earlier, The Abbey Theatre announced details of its programme for next year, including events marking the centenary of the 1916 Rising.

Waking The Nation will include three world premières and new interpretations of what The Abbey considers some of the best plays of the past 100 years.

Explaining the programme title, Abbey Director Fiach MacConghail said it was deliberately provocative, allowing the theatre to interrogate rather than celebrate the legacy of the Rising.

Next year will see new productions Sean O'Casey's play 'The Plough and the Stars', set at the time of the Rising; 'The Wake by Tom Murphy'; and the world première of new play 'Cyprus Avenue' by David Ireland.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys, Tánaiste Joan Burton and Minister of State Aodhán Ó Ríordáin joined actors and writers at the theatre today for the launch of the programme.

Relatives of the so-called Abbey Rebels, theatre workers who took part in the 1916 Rising, also attended today's launch.