Northern Ireland

Easter Rising: UUP pull out of Belfast City Council 1916 centenary dinner

President Michael D Higgins
Image caption President Higgins pulled out of attending the dinner as he did not want to be involved in a "political controversy"

Ulster Unionist Party councillors have decided they will not attend a civic dinner at Belfast City Hall to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.

The move comes after the Irish president, who was due to be the guest of honour, pulled out of the event.

Michael D Higgins's spokesman said the invitation had been accepted on the basis it had "cross-party support".

But because that support no longer existed, he did not want to become embroiled in "political controversy".

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) was accused of scuppering the dinner by refusing to attend.

The party said it had no objection to the event happening, but none of its members would be there.

The Easter Rising was a brief and militarily unsuccessful republican revolt.

Many historians see it as a significant stepping-stone in the eventual creation of the Republic of Ireland and the partition of the island.

The dinner, planned for 8 April, is part of the Belfast City Council's Decade of Centenaries programme.

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