14 April 2006

Easter Rising parade 'day of proud commemoration'


14/04/2006 - 11:23:45

Final preparations are being made today to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Ireland’s Easter Rising of 1916.

An annual parade was shelved in 1969 after conflict broke out in Northern Ireland and the IRA sought to claim the mantle of the rebels.

However, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern announced last autumn that the Easter Rising parade, with full military trappings, would resume again to honour the dead patriots.

President Mary McAleese today said the celebration will be an occasion of civic pride for Irish people.

She dismissed concerns that the occasion could be used as a vehicle of triumphalism for republicans.

“I haven’t the slightest doubt that Sunday will be a day of proud commemoration and I have every expectation that it will be very well attended," she said.

“We rightly look back on our past with pride at the men and women who lived in very different times from ours, and who made sacrifices of their lives so that we would enjoy these good times.”

Sunday’s two-hour spectacle will include 2,500 members of the Defence Forces, Garda and United Nations veterans.

The parade will begin at former English seat of power Dublin Castle and wind down Dame Street and College Green before passing the General Post Office on the capital’s O’Connell Street thoroughfare.

The GPO was the headquarters of the Rising and its exterior walls remain pockmarked from bullets fired at the time.

The national flag will be lowered on the roof of the GPO and an army officer will read out the Proclamation of Independence.

President McAleese will then lay a wreath at the site and a minute’s silence will be observed in memory of all those who died.

Then the national flag will be raised to full mast and the national anthem played.

An official viewing stand on O’Connell Street will be attended by more than 900 dignitaries, including Northern Ireland’s unionist and nationalist politicians and British Ambassador to Ireland Steward Eldon.

A wreath will also be laid at Kilmainham Jail, where 15 of the Rising’s leaders were executed by British firing squads.

A lavish state reception at Dublin Castle will follow in the evening.

President McAleese compared the 1916 leaders to the thousands of Irish soldiers who fought in the British amy during the first World War.

“Whatever our background or our take on history, religion or politics, we take pride in what they gave.

“They did what they did in the belief that they were helping a new generation to grow up in freedom and without fear.

“That is true of those who died (in Dublin) in 1916, and it’s true of those who died on the Somme.”

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