No council funding for Easter Rising commemorations

Antrim and Newtownabbey Council will not be providing funding for local events to commemorate the centenary of the Easter Rising.

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The topic was raised at the local authority’s monthly meeting on Monday night, as the minutes from the Easter Rising Commemorative Programme Working Group’s February 22 meeting were presented to members for approval.

The move came after a long and at times heated debate in the chamber at Mossley Mill, with a number of amendments being proposed to the original minutes.

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Sinn Fein representatives had called for £40,000 to be allocated by the council for Easter Rising centenary events across the borough, with Cllr Anne Marie Logue saying there had been interest from a number of groups wanting to mark the 100th anniversary.

Cllr Phillip Brett hit out at the figure, saying that the issue had been “a farce” since it was raised in the council chamber on December 29. He said he had made it clear then that marking the 1916 rebellion “was not something this council should be doing”.

He questioned a proposed bus trip to Dublin, saying “my understanding was that the events had to take place in the borough.”

A figure of £10,000 had been put forward by members of the working group - a figure to which a number of parties, including Sinn Fein and the DUP, said they were opposed.

Following a vote on the issue of funding for the programme, no agreement was able to be reached and funding was not able to be secured.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Logue said: “There was a clear understanding that the decade of centenaries and programmes of events reflecting both traditions would be treated equally in Antrim and Newtownabbey Borough Council. However, tonight in the council, unionist councillors reversed that agreement. They proposed a meagre award of £10,000 to those organisations who wish to remember the centenary of the Easter Rising. That sits in stark contrast to the budget of £50,000 established to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme.”

Cllr Brett said: “Whilst Sinn Fein can shout unionist misrule, they are clearly embarrassed by the fact they inadvertently voted to oppose any funding going to these events. It was only through these votes that the DUP were able to defeat the proposal.”

Ulster Unionist group leader, Ald Mark Cosgrove said: “It was all too predictable that the DUP and Sinn Fein coalesced around agreeing to disagree on funding levels with the affect that we ended up with no programme.”