Published Tuesday, 27 March 2012
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2012 marks the centenary of the signing of the Ulster Covenant and Declaration - a document signed by hundreds of thousands of men and women in protest against the establishment of a Home Rule Parliament in Dublin.
The first person to sign the covenant was the Dublin born unionist - Edward Carson. Today, his statue, cast in bronze, stands tall at Northern Ireland's seat of power at Stormont.
On Tuesday, also at Stormont, Republicans launched their annual Easter Lily campaign remembering those who lost their lives in the 1916 Easter Rising. Staged on the streets of Dublin, its aim was to end British rule in Ireland and establish an Irish Republic.
The Easter Rising and the signing of the Ulster Covenant are just two events in a Decade of Commemorations in Northern Ireland. Others to be marked include the start of the Ulster Resistance, the First World War, the War of Independence and the partition of Ireland.
Political historian Dr Eamon Phoenix is a member of the Irish government's advisory committee on commemorations.
He described the decade of anniversaries as "a major landmark for both parts of Ireland."
"They really shaped us all and shaped the island we live in today."
Dr Phoenix told UTV that in remembering the past - "we have to remember the future."
He continued: "This island has turned a corner - Northern Ireland has turned a corner.
"We are more comfortable with ourselves, the complexity of our loyalties and allegiances are reflected in new institutions which were voted for by the people of Ireland, north and south."
He added: "It's vitally important that we emerge from this decade unscathed and perhaps, more mature in our attitudes to modern Irish history."
Last week, the Stormont Executive announced the establishment of a working group to look at taking a leading role in organising these events.
At its helm is the DUP's Arlene Foster, Minister for Tourism, and Sinn Féin's Carál Ní Chuilín, the Culture Minister.
Foster, an MLA for Fermanagh/South Tyrone, said they set out the parameters on what should be done based on tolerance and respect.
She said that different centenaries will mean different things to different groups.
"We're trying to give leadership and say that people should recognise the historical context in which these centenaries happen.
"These were seismic events and we hope we will be able to set the tone, if you like, for celebrating and commemorating."
Carál Ní Chuilín said the forthcoming events were "an Executive priority."
"We've referred to it as a decade of ideas - and Republicans are involved in that.
"I think the approach that we've made has been fairly broad. It's been done on a basis that we're coming from the position of mutual respect."