Marking the 90th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising on Sunday, Irish premier Bertie Ahern laid a wreath at the Dublin jail where 15 leaders of the revolt against British rule were executed.
He said the 450 people killed during the Easter Rising- fighters and civilians alike- “gave their lives so that Ireland could gain her freedom.” Ahern said: “Today is a day of remembrance, reconciliation and renewal. Today is about discharging one generation’s debt of honour to another. 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.” Although the 1916 uprising failed, it provided impetus for the War of Independence, and in 1921 rebel leaders signed a treaty creating an Irish Free State. Ahern made the decision to hold the parade, which went past the General Post Office, the headquarters of the failed rebellion, watched by President Mary McAleese. About 100,000 people turned up in the Irish capital for the parade involving 2,500 serving and former members of the army, navy, air corps and police. Dublin stopped commemorations of the Easter Rising in 1970, due to unease over the Irish Republican Army’s bloody campaign in Northern Ireland. Last year the IRA renounced violence for political purposes and disarmed. The Irish government recognised calls to see the Rising in a broader context by also honouring, in Sunday’s parade, the many Irish troops who died fighting for Britain in the 1916 Battle of the Somme.