Following a review in 2012 of the 1916 Arbour Hill Commemoration, a number of changes were made to the Ceremony. As part of the review of all aspects of the Commemoration, a substantial exercise in examining the list of invitees and ensuring records were updated was carried out. As a result, prioritised reserved seating was made available for those who are direct descendants of the leaders of the 1916 Rising and who are interred in Arbour Hill. This was an important issue raised by relatives prior to commencement of the review.
Also, arising from the review, which included a consultative process between Departmental officials and Defence Forces personnel, a decision was made to remove the Military ceremonial elements from the Church on the basis that it is no longer considered appropriate that Military personnel would be requested to perform such a role in a religious ceremony. Instead, all military ceremonial functions were carried out to the full outside the Church and at the graveside in Arbour Hill Cemetery.
The decision to remove the Military ceremonial elements from the church was taken to reflect the changes that have taken place in Ireland, North and South and the importance of emphasising tolerance and a welcome for all nationalities and creeds. In this context it is no longer considered appropriate that the Defence Forces, an important institution of the State, should be requested to perform such a role in a religious ceremony.
I believe that these changes have ensured that the annual 1916 Arbour Hill Commemoration is a more inclusive event.