16 April 2006

Ahern in peace vow at Easter Rising ceremony


16/04/2006 - 11:15:14

Taoiseach Bertie Ahern today pledged to continue to work for peace and reconciliation in Ireland as wreaths were laid in Dublin’s Kilmainham Gaol in honour of the 1916 Easter Rising revolutionaries.

In the first of a series of State ceremonies marking the 90th anniversary of the rebellion at a private service in the jail, Mr Ahern urged people to strive for a new future.

“As we look to the future, we must be generous and inclusive so that all of the people of Ireland can live together with each other and with our neighbours in Great Britain on a basis of friendship, respect, equality and partnership,” he said.

“And every day, in every place, we will continue to work for peace, for justice, for prosperity and for reconciliation between all who share and who love this special island.”

The ceremony was the first of a series of events to be held across the country culminating in a military parade of 2,500 troops past the iconic GPO, were the Proclamation of the Republic was read out.

Mr Ahern said holding a commemoration 90 years on from the rebellion was testament that our generation still cherishes the ideals of the courageous men and women who fought for Ireland in Easter week and during the War of Independence.

He said it showed the honour and respect Ireland has for their selfless idealism and patriotism. And he said it was a symbol of our gratitude for the great sacrifices they made for us.

“Today is a day of remembrance, reconciliation and renewal. Today is about discharging one generation’s debt of honour to another,” he said.

“Today, we will fittingly commemorate the patriotism and vision of those who set in train an unstoppable process which led to this country’s political independence.”

Mr Ahern was joined in Kilmainham by invited guests including Fr Joseph Mallin, son of the Commandant of the Irish Citizen Army Michael Mallin and the only surviving child of any of the 1916 leaders.

“Michael Mallin’s generation fought heroically to vindicate the Irish people’s right to self-determination and it is fitting that we rightly honour them,” Mr Ahern said.

In a solemn tribute to those who fought to liberate Ireland, wreaths were laid only yards from where many of the leaders of the Rising, including Padraig Pearse, were executed in the Stonebreaker’s Yard – also known as the Execution Plot.

Mr Ahern said the vision and bravery of Mallin, Pearse, James Connolly and Thomas J Clarke and the other 1916 revolutionaries, in their lives and in their deaths, was recognised by the Irish people.

He noted that only two years after the Rising the people of Ireland backed the cause of an Independent Republic by a massive and sweeping majority.

“The justice of the cause, not simply the willingness to fight for it, contributed much to its success,” Mr Ahern said.

“The men and women of Easter 1916 gave their lives so that Ireland could gain her freedom.

“The generations that came after them used that freedom to support peace across the world through the efforts of our Defence Forces, Óglaigh na hEireann.”

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