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First Minister Foster taking a pass on ‘16

First Minister Arlene Foster

By Anthony Neeson

A senior Sinn Féin member has called on people from all sections of the community in Northern Ireland to take part in this year's centenary commemorations in order to develop a greater understanding of the events of Easter 1916.

Declan Kearney was speaking after the DUP’s Arlene Foster – who replaced Peter Robinson as First Minister on Monday – said she would not be attending any events commemorating the Easter Rising, which she described as a “very violent attack on the State” which “gave succor to violent republicanism”.

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"Those who struck a blow for freedom at Easter 1916 fought to create a new Ireland for all,” said Mr. Kearney who is Sinn Féin’s national chairperson.

"They did so at a time of intense militarization, not just in Ireland, but across the world.
"This year, we will be commemorating the centenary of not just the Easter Rising, but also other landmark events of that year, most notably the Battle of the Somme.

“All of these commemorations should be inclusive and respectful. They can and should be harnessed as a real opportunity to develop a shared culture of commemoration in our society.”

While the Ulster Unionist Party have said that they will be staging their own event in Dublin to commemorate the events surrounding Easter 1916, First Minister Foster said she would not be taking part in any events this year.

She said: “People are nuanced enough to know that I am very open and will represent democratic nationalists and democratic unionists in Northern Ireland.

“I certainly will not be representing violent republicanism.”

On Monday, Foster formally became First Minister of Northern Ireland.

Speaking in the Assembly at Stormont she said she could think of no greater honor “than to have the opportunity to serve my country and the people of Northern Ireland as their first minister.”

“I am truly humbled by the trust and confidence which has been placed in me,” she said.