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Councils pledge nearly £500,000 to Easter Rising and Somme events

Dublin in the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising
Brendan Hughes

COUNCILS across the north have so far set aside almost half a million pounds for the Easter Rising and Battle of the Somme centenaries.

Most local authorities intend to mark the 100th anniversary of both events but have not yet finalised their plans.

Some unionist-majority councils such as Lisburn and Castlereagh will commemorate the Somme but have no plans to hold any Easter Rising events.

It comes amid a row at neighbouring Antrim and Newtownabbey council over funding for the centenaries.

Sinn Féin councillors accused the DUP of trying to block money for Easter Rising commemorations – while waving through a £50,000 package of Somme events.

DUP representatives said they didn't think it was "appropriate" for residents to pay for Rising events, adding that funding is available through other means.

However, a majority of councillors voted in favour of setting up a working group to discuss holding Easter Rising events despite opposition from the DUP's 15 councillors.

So far the north's 11 councils have earmarked £390,000 to fund commemorative events surrounding both centenaries, with some still to outline their spending plans.

Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council said it will be involved with Somme commemorations but it "has not discussed marking the Easter Rising".

Ards and North Down said it will mark the Somme centenary with a series of events.

It said funding will also be available for any Rising commemorations, marking 100 years since the rebellion against British rule in Ireland in April 1916.

Belfast City Council has pledged the largest amount of funding towards the centenaries with £250,000 being divided equally between commemorations for the Rising and the Somme.

It is hoped a range of organisations and groups will be involved in the events, with organisers of the Easter Rising centenary encouraging loyalist communities across Belfast to engage.

Thousands of soldiers from the 36th Ulster Division and 16th Irish Division fought in the Battle of the Somme.

It was one of the bloodiest battles of World War One with more than one million casualties over 141 days.

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:: Council plans

Antrim and Newtownabbey: A £50,000 budget has been earmarked for events on the Somme centenary. A working group will discuss holding any events to mark the Easter Rising.

Ards and North Down: The council will mark the Somme centenary with a programme of events which have not yet been finalised. A spokesman said funding will be available for other commemorations including the Easter Rising.

Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon: The council said it is still considering options on the centenaries.

Belfast: £250,000 will be divided equally between commemorations for the Rising and the Somme.

Causeway Coast and Glens: The council says it has developed a programme of activities on events in 1916 to be delivered through its Museum and Good Relations services.

Derry and Strabane: The council has set aside £50,000 to support any commemorative events by community groups for both the Easter Rising and Somme.

Fermanagh and Omagh: A working group is being set up to consider council support for commemorations in 2016.

Lisburn and Castlereagh: The council will be involved in Somme centenary commemorations as part of the Somme Association. It has not discussed marking the Easter Rising.

Mid and East Antrim: An exhibition and workshops will be held on behalf of the council to mark the Rising and the Somme. The council also annually organises the Co Antrim Battle of the Somme commemoration at the Co Antrim War Memorial, Knockagh.

Mid Ulster: While no details have been agreed, the council intends to organise events to mark both centenaries and provide funding for community groups to stage their own events.

Newry, Mourne and Down: A grant programme has been created to help groups deliver projects to mark the centenaries. It has a £40,000 budget and each project can apply for up to £3,000.

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