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March 27, 2016 Ireland’s Easter Rising resonates, 100 years later

March 27, 2016 The Partition of Ireland

Dublin ― Ireland on Sunday staged its largest ever military parade as it marked the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, a botched but historically significant rebellion against British rule.

Hundreds of thousands of people lined Dublin’s streets to watch 3,600 members of Ireland’s military and emergency services take part in a five-hour procession that wound its way past some of the buildings seized during the revolt that left parts of this city in ruins.

Irish President Michael Higgins laid a wreath in front of the General Post Office. The building’s bullet-riddled columns still reflect that it was used for six days, starting on Easter Monday in 1916, as the headquarters of a revolt that failed to overthrow British reign.

A minute of silence for those killed was observed. More than 450 people were killed and 2,500 injured during the failed uprising. The rebellion and the execution of 16 of its leaders led to a series of events that gave Ireland its independence in 1922.

Capt. Peter Kelleher, an Irish officer, recited the rebels’ 1916 proclamation of independence. Former presidents Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson, and former prime minister Bertie Ahern attended.

Ben Phillips, the great-grand nephew of one of the executed rebels, told USA TODAY he is amazed by the valor and sacrifices made by the rebels 100 years later. “They knew they were going to die when they started this,” he said. “They were taking on an empire that had never really, with the exception of in the United States, been beaten.”

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny joined Higgins in leading the ceremony, saying it was “important that we bear witness this centenary year to all those who gave their lives during Easter 1916.”

Ireland has long struggled to embrace Easter Rising as its national day of independence, in part because the country’s two dominant political parties, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, both claim to be the inheritors of the rebels’ ideals.

Complicating this year’s event, after an inconclusive Feb. 28 election, Fine Gael and Fianna Fail are locked in a dispute over whether to form a coalition government.

Meanwhile, some ultra-nationalist groups, such as Republican Sinn Féin or RSF ― not to be confused with Sinn Féin, the Irish republican political party active in Ireland and Northern Ireland ― say there is unfinished business.

“The state is trying to dilute 1916, to turn it into some kind of history-fest,” Des Dalton, who runs RSF’s offices in Dublin, told the Irish Times on Saturday.

Source: USA Today. March 28, 2016.

Posted in: Northern Ireland

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