Page last updated at 16:56 GMT, Monday, 27 February 2012

Decade of Centenaries continued

An upcoming decade of centenaries "should be used to promote reconciliation and not promote division", an Sinn Fein MLA has told the assembly on 27 February 2012.

Pat Sheehan was speaking on an Alliance motion which called on executive ministers to ensure that the series of centenaries to be marked over the coming ten years would be done so in an inclusive way.

The decade includes the signing of the Ulster Covenant, the Easter Rising, the War of independence and the establishment of Northern Ireland.

The UUP's Robin Swann said: "There is a need for a joined-up approach and for all events to be celebrated in an inclusive manner."

His comments were reiterated by the DUP's William Irwin who said the "essence of the debate seeks to promote a basis of tolerance on which to move forward".

Conall McDevitt said the commemorations could "lay the foundations for a new Ireland or it can entrench the prejudice and ignorance which has grown up in the past century".

Ulster Unionist Sandra Overend said how the next 10 years were marked would be "absolutely vital to the tourism industry".

Responding to the debate, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said she was struck "by the many voices, of which none were discordant".

"These celebrations or commemorations can have the capacity, if not managed in a sensible and responsible way, to arouse passions, to cause anger, to provoke tension and indeed exacerbate community division," she said.

Mrs Foster said along with the culture minister, she was bringing out a joint ministerial paper in relation to how events would be marked.

The first part of debate can be viewed here .

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