Northern Ireland’s 2016: Approaching the contested commemoration of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme
Dr Marie Coleman and Dr Dominic Bryan (QUB)
The centenaries of the Easter Rising and the Battle of the Somme will be commemorated in Northern Ireland in 2016. These two events have important historical and political resonance with the nationalist and unionist communities respectively. The significance of such anniversaries is recognised in the Northern Ireland Executive’s community relations strategy document, ‘Together: Building a United Community’:
‘The decade we have just entered will include a number of potentially sensitive anniversaries which we cannot ignore within the context of this Strategy. The events of our past will inevitably have economic and social impacts for us now and the way in which these events are marked will also have a significant influence on our continued journey towards a united community.’
This presentation draws on the work of an inter-disciplinary research network including academics, government representatives (from the Office of First Minister and deputy First Minister, the Northern Ireland Office and the Republic of Ireland’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), local authority Good Relations Officers, as well as Healing Through Remembering and the Community Relations Council. The presentation delivers findings of the network’s research about how the 2016 commemorations could be approached in Northern Ireland, focusing on three key research themes:
1. The nature and purpose of commemoration.
2. Comparative contested commemorations in an Irish and an international context.
3. Shared engagement with a contested past through education.