Irish Republican News · April 30, 2016
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: Rising commemorations mark centenary date
Rising commemorations mark centenary date

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A large 1916 Rising commemoration parade took place through Belfast city centre without major incident on Sunday despite efforts by loyalists to disrupt the event.

The ‘People’s Parade’, organised by the Easter Rising Centenary Committee, was an attempt to unify all shades of republicanism in a single parade to mark 100 years to the day since the Rising began.

Loyalists who had gathered at the junction of Royal Avenue and North Street hurled abuse as the parade made its way past. Due to a Parades Commission ruling, the bands played a single drum beat only as they passed the loyalists.

A massive PSNI operation was in force from early morning, with several streets around the bottom of Royal Avenue blocked off with screens. Land Rovers lined Royal Avenue and surrounding streets, while riot police took positions along Belfast’s main thoroughfare.

Thousands had set off from the New Lodge area of north Belfast en route to Barrack Street off the Falls Road to join the main Belfast Easter Rising commemoration. Young people carried images of the seven signatories of the Proclamation, followed by bands and supporters.

Headed by a colour party dressed in traditional Irish Volunteers uniform, flute bands and marchers carrying photos of the Rising leaders followed close behind, mingling with supporters of all ages.

The republicans then made their way along Castle Street to nearby Barrack Street, where they joined several hundred more who had gathered to parade to Milltown Cemetery. The parade came to a halt at the garden of remembrance on the Falls, as the colour party stopped to salute the republican dead.

A spokesman for the Easter Rising Centenary Committee told the younger members of the crowd that he “hoped they would be here to organise the 150th anniversary.”

He said: “It is our hope that this day be marked in the same way as July 4th in the US and Bastille Day in France.

“They (the Rising participants) held on for six days...they inspired people of other countries to throw off the shackles of their British masters. The republic proclaimed in 1916 has still not been realised. Six counties are still under British occupation.”

The names of some of the republicans from Ulster who gathered in Coalisland 100 years ago to participate in the Rising were read out, along with a poem and the last words of the seven signatories of the Proclamation.

The commemoration ended with a minute’s silence and a rendition of Amhran na bhFiann by the Carrick Hill Independent Flute Band.

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SINN FEIN

The Sinn Fein commemoration on Sunday, mounted on a stage in the centre of O’Connell Street was an upbeat event attended by several thousand. Instead of IRA-style uniforms, there were people in 1916-era Volunteer, Citizen Army and Cumann na mBan uniforms.

Re-enactors from the Cabra Historical Society fired simulated volleys, and the emphasis was on the political legacy of 1916 and the need peacefully to complete the dream of a 32-county republic.

A banner fixed to the GPO’s front wall bore the Liberty Hall slogan “We serve neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland”, while Stormont Deputy Fist Minister Martin McGuinness delivered the speech. He told the crown that “the days of second-class citizenship in the North are over” due to “the sacrifice, the determination and the courage of this generation of Irish republicans”.

He said Sinn Fein was the only party committed to achieving Irish unity and delivering on the proclamation. He denounced the “self-serving political parties” of the “establishment” for standing by during times of crisis for republicanism.

“Sinn Fein is the only political party on this island working to end that fracture in their nation and to achieving the Republic set out in the proclamation,” he said. “The spirt of 1916 is as relevant and inspiring today as it was a century ago.”

The event concluded with a rendition of “A Nation Once Again”.

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RSF

Thousands turned out on Saturday for the main Republican Sinn Fein centenary commemoration as it marched down O’Connell Street.

The parade from the Garden of Remembrance to the GPO involved marching bands and military colour parties. Republican Sinn Fein said the organisations in attendance included Na Fianna Eireann and Cumann na mBan, led by a Piper and the Coatsbridge United Irishmen RFB.

Senior Republican Sinn Fein figures John Joe McCusker and Des Dalton spoke outside the GPO, where marchers halted during proceedings. Wreaths were laid by John Hunt, a Veteran of the republican cause of Limerick and Chicago.

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STATE EVENTS

The largest state event of the weekend took place at Croke Park, the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Associaton, who marked the centenary with a theatrical production. ‘Laochra’ featured dance, song and poetry that ended with a rendition of Amhran na bhFiann.

Children read the Proclamation while the names of GAA clubs named after the leaders of the Easter Rising were also read aloud. GAA President Aogan O Fearghail said it was a “very special day for Cumann Luthchleas Gael”.

Separately, President Michael D Higgins led the annual commemorations at Arbour Hill in Dublin. A wreath in honour of the rebel leaders was laid in the cemetery where 14 of them are buried.

Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin spoke at the religious service in the Church of the Sacred Heart. He urged people to seize the ideals of the Proclamation.

“As Irish men and Irish women we are called still today never to betray the ideals which inspired these who took part in the 1916 Rising or to let those ideals be betrayed or watered down through our cynicism or mediocrity,” the senior cleric said.

He also relaid notes taken by Father Columbus Murphy, a Capuchin priest, who met rebel leader Padraig Pearse before his execution.

He read: “(Pearse) was seated with his head bowed down, sunk deep into his arms resting on a little table... Disturbed by the noise of my entry he slowly raised his head... Then recognizing the (religious) habit in which I was garbed he got up, stretching out his hand and said ‘Oh Father, the loss of life, the destruction, but please God it will not be in vain”’.

© 2016 Irish Republican News