It has been reported that Government Ministers Simon Coveney and Jack Chambers will attend the controversial NI Centenary Event which celebrates 100 years since Ireland was partitioned.
It will take place later this month.
President Michael D Higgins had turned down his invitation to the event last month. He did not agree with the title of the event. It is called, “marking the centenaries of the partition of Ireland and the foundation of Northern Ireland”.
President Higgins was also not keen on the event referring to him as the President of the Republic of Ireland. He is the President of Ireland.
Sinn Féin and the Social Democrats have also said that the Government should not send someone to this event on their behalf.
“cleary distinct from that of the president”
Last night, a Government spokesperson had this to say.
“In considering the invitation, the Government noted that its role in this matter is clearly distinct from that of the President”.
They also added, “In that regard, the Government reiterates its full support and understanding for the decision made by President Higgins with regard to his attendance at the event”.
“That decision was quite properly made by the President, and was based on concerns that he had consistently expressed”.
“Cognisant of that important distinction, and in recognition also of the spirit and intentions of the Church Leaders in organising the event, the Government has decided that it will be represented at the event by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and by the Government Chief Whip”.
Sinn Féin had also urged the Government to boycott this event.
“No. President Higgins was absolutely right in deciding not to attend that event”, Sinn Féin’s TD Pearse Doherty said.
He also added, “There are many ways in which we can forward the issues of reconciliation across the island of Ireland”.
“Sinn Féin have been party to them including [at] different events, including meeting Queen Elizabeth in the past”.
“But this isn’t about reconciliation”.
“This is about commemorating partition, an act that had a devastating impact on our country”.
“I think the public were behind the President’s decision. I think it would be wrong for the Cabinet to take the decision today to actually send Simon Coveney”.
Róisin Shorthall of the Social Democrats said that sending someone to the event representing the Government would not be “appropriate”.
The Government also recently agreed to relinquish the corporate tax rate after 18 years. More on that here.