Earl Storey attended an event in Dublin to examine the events of the Easter Rising of 1916, on behalf of the Centre for Studies in Irish Protestantism (Maynooth University). The event was organised by the Ulster Unionist Party
The seminar at the Royal Irish Academy on Dawson Street aimed to examine the Easter Rising from a unionist perspective.
The afternoon was hosted by South Antrim UUP MP Danny Kinahan and party leader Mike Nesbitt MLA. Guests included the Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan TD.
In his concluding speech Mike Nesbitt said: “As someone who believes there cannot be a common, agreed narrative for our troubled past, I accept others will promote their narrative. What I ask is that it is done in a respectful, dignified and honest manner, recognising the enduring impact on all sections of our community. That does not compromise my beliefs. Nor does it deny my right to challenge or disagree.”
He continued, “Our identities are not pure. They are tied up in a common history, even if that history cannot command a common narrative. We are already bound, politically, economically and socially. Add a better appreciation of a more complex and shared past than we like to imagine, and I believe we have huge hope for our children’s future together. I wish Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom, but I also want to be a good Irishman, a friendly neighbour and an honest trading partner.
Speaking to The Newsletter Minister Flanagan said,
“I don’t have any recollection over the period of my lifetime of those events being marked here [in this way].” He also said that it was “timely and appropriate that the event was held in the RIA” so soon after the main Rising commemorations.
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt was among those who spoke at the event, the first time the party is believed to have held a seminar in the city since 1922.
Keynote speakers offering a unionist perspective included academics Jason Burke and Graham Walker as well as former Royal Naval nuclear submarine commander Steve Aiken.
Among the topics for debate were unionist politics during the Irish revolutionary period as well the issue of identity.