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Irish bishops call for ‘radical culture of peace’ as country prepares to mark Easter Rising centenary

Irish soldiers taking part in an Easter Rising commemoration service in 2014 (PA)

One hundred years after the Easter Rising, 2016 needs to be the year for “a radical culture of peace”, Irish bishops have said.

The comments came in the Irish episcopal conference’s message marking the 100 year anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916 as well as the Battle of the Somme, which began the following July.

The Easter Rising was an armed insurrection during Easter Week by republicans aiming to end British rule and establish an independent Ireland.

The bishops said both events had a “profound impact on national identity and shaped the political landscape in ways that can still be felt” today.

They added upcoming commemorations “have the potential to stimulate much-needed reflection on where we are as a society and what we want to achieve for the future.”

There had been fears that the ‘decade of centenaries’ marking such events would ‘reopen old wounds’ but bishops said, “thankfully these fears have not materialised.”

Instead, they maintain the anniversaries have allowed Ireland to maturely reflect on the past.

Part of this they say is a chance to “challenge” themselves and “reflect on whether we have been sufficiently courageous in promoting a radical culture of peace.”

The bishops added the Church has an important role in “nurturing healing conversations” which comes to the forefront when we remember such events.

The message ends with a call to renew commitment to peace and provide clear steps society needs to take to address the obstacles in the way.