Huge turnout for Rising events
The Dublin establishment has joined in the commemorations held across
Ireland this Easter weekend to mark the 90th anniversary of the 1916
A military parade through Dublin attracted tens of thousands and was
described as "a spectacular success" by the Minister for Justice,
The march, the first major State commemoration for 40 years, marked an
attempt by the Dublin government to affirm its nationalist identity in
the wake of growing support for Sinn Fein.
Some 2,500 members of the Defence Forces, and veterans of peacekeeping
missions, marched through Dublin. Gardai put the crowd that watched
them at 100,000, while the Minister for Defence, Willie O'Dea, said
some 120,000 spectators lined the route.
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern said the 90th anniversary commemorations were
"about discharging one generation's debt of honour to another".
Opposition Fine Gael leader, Enda Kenny, said the parade was "a great
showcase" for the 26-County Army, which was also described by Michael
McDowell as "the real Oglaigh na hEireann [Irish Army]".
Mr McDowell said while there would be discussions on when to hold the
next commemoration, "today's events will encourage the Irish State
be confident about celebrating 1916", he said.
Observers agreed the parade was a morale booster for the 26-County Army
after declassified state papers revealed the government of thirty years
ago believed it was too ineffective to provide security for the entire
In west Belfast Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams led a parade to the
republican plot in Milltown Cemetery.
Relatives of people killed during the conflict carried portraits of
their loved ones along the route.
Among those marching were a group of former republican prisoners. Pipe
and drum bands, including one from Glasgow, played.
Thousands of spectators lined the route from Beechmount Avenue to the
Speaking at the republican plot, Mr Adams said it was decision time for
the Irish and British governments.
"Are they going to stand by the Good Friday Agreement or are they
to continue to pander to rejectionist unionism?" he asked.
"The governments have said that they will lift the suspension of
assembly on May 15.
"Sinn Fein will be in Stormont that day. We will be there for one
reason and one reason only - the election of a government in line with
the Good Friday Agreement."
Mr Adams also claimed DUP leader Ian Paisley had failed in his campaign
to "smash Sinn Fein".
"The only way Ian Paisley will exercise political power is in an
executive with Sinn Fein," he said.
There were speeches and wreath-laying ceremonies in counties Ty-rone,
Derry, Donegal and Armagh.
In Crossmaglen, Co Armagh, Kerry county council chair Toireasa Ferris
was the speaker.
In Coalisland, County Tyrone, Sinn Fein MEP Bairbre de Brun described
1916 as "a watershed in Irish history".
In Carrickmore Sinn Fein assembly member Gerry Kelly said he hoped that
just like the 1916 rising the IRA statement of last July announcing an
end to its armed campaign would be another significant event in
At a ceremony in Cork Sinn Fein chief negotiator Martin McGuinness paid
tribute to Thomas Kent, one of the 16 executed after the rising.
The Irish Republican Socialist Party and the Workers Party held
separate parades in west Belfast on Sunday.
Republican Sinn Fein president Ruairi O Bradaigh speak at an unveiling
ceremony in Bundoran, Co Donegal on Sunday, where four plaques were
unveiled in a republican garden.
Meanwhile, in an Easter statement the breakway 'Real IRA' said it would
continue to defend Irish sovereignty and the Irish nation.
"The Republican position is again under threat by revisionists within
the Free State establishment," the statement read. "Their attempts
misrepresent the Republican position will be exposed by those who still
hold true to Republican ideals.
"This Easter those who have usurped Irish sovereignty will parade
the GPO and attempt to reclaim the legacy of 1916. Republicans will
again resist the attempts of constitutional nationalists to portray
themselves as the legitimate successors of Pearse and Connolly.
"We remember with pride the ten Oglaigh na hEireann and INLA volunteers
who died 25 years ago in the pursuit of political status and we
reaffirm, in their memory, our commitment to the ending of British rule
in Ireland and the restoration of national democracy and national
"Former comrades have usurped the constitution of Oglaigh na hEireann
and have accepted Britain's right to interfere in our affairs. This is
an intolerable situation and the leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann
pledge to remain true to our constitution and its aims and objectives.
"Irish sovereignty is being undermined on a daily basis, not only
the British Army in the north, but also by the American warplanes which
land illegally in Shannon. Our national resources are being stolen by
multinational capitalists and their Free State allies. Republicans
stand for the complete ownership of Irish national territory and its
resources for the benefit of the Irish people in accordance with the
proclamation of the Republic.
"The causes of the conflict in Ireland remain unchanged. Britain
refuses to declare its intent to withdraw and the so called government
of the Irish people refuses to demand their withdrawal. While this
remains the case Oglaigh na hEireann will continue to exist to defend
Irish sovereignty and the Irish nation."