Call for civic event to mark Easter Rising

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A Sinn Fein councillor has called on the council to “embrace equality and take a dignified and inclusive approach” to the decade of centenaries.

Councillor Patrice Hardy’s comments came at the council’s January monthly meeting, after an update on the heritage project ‘On The Brink’, which relates to the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme.

Cllr Hardy said she had asked at the previous monthly meeting for a report to be drawn up on her suggestion that council mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising locally with a separate civic event and queried why that had not been done.

Chief Executive Anne Donaghy said that she had “taken on board” the comments that had been raised previously. Mrs Donaghy also pointed out that ‘On The Brink’ would have “some civic presence” in the form of the Mayor and councillors at the launch of the ‘1916 Impact on Legacy’ exhibition at the Museum in The Braid on March 24 after which it will go on tour.

She said ‘On the Brink’ was the second part of a three year project, was Heritage Lottery Funded and related to the events of 1916, particularly The Easter Rising and the Somme.

“In a very historic way it reflects, very factually, the period of the Easter Rising and The Somme and I think members will be very suitably impressed,” she said.

However, Cllr Hardy, who pointed out that SF supported the ‘On The Brink’ project, stated: “I felt council needed to take a further step-to attach a civic event to the historic work already done”.

She called for a report on such an event to be drawn up and an officer appointed to oversee it and was seconded by fellow SF Councillor James McKeown.

Deputy Mayor Timothy Gaston said the “TUV would be completely opposed” to holding a special civic event for the Easter Rising. A majority of 32 councillors voted in favour of Cllr Stephen Nicholl’s proposal, seconded by Cllr A. P. Wilson to accept the recommendation that the 1916 Impact and Legacy Exhibition be launched on March 24 in Ballymena and that the Chief Executive organise speakers.

The proposal included a suggestion by Cllr Declan O’Loan, chair of On The Brink project’s steering group, that officers research the possibility of providing councillors with an opportunity to travel to “a suitable event” relating to the Easter Rising as they do in relation to The Somme.

In a statement the following day, Cllr Hardy said SF would seek to meet with Mrs Donaghy to “establish how any such civic event can be brought forward”.