Dublin hosts first event in year of 1916 Easter Rising commemorations

Flags flown in O'Connell Street during the 1916 Easter Rising are raised at a ceremony in Dublin Castle
Flags flown in O'Connell Street during the 1916 Easter Rising are raised at a ceremony in Dublin Castle

The first major event to mark the centenary of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin took place on Friday with a roll call of the 78 volunteers who died.

It was the first of 40 planned state ceremonial events.

Recent research by Glasnevin Cemetery determined that 485 people were killed in the rebellion; civilians constituted the majority, 184, while 107 British soldiers and 13 police officers were also killed.

Three flags which were flown on O’Connell Street in Dublin during the rebellion were raised over Dublin Castle in the ceremony attended by Republic of Ireland dignitaries, President Michael D Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tanaiste Joan Burton.

Invited guests, including relatives of those who died in the rising, also took part.

Mr Kenny said the New Year’s Day ceremony began a year of reflection.

“There are some moments in history when a seed is sown and the old order changes forever,” he said.

“Easter 1916 was such a moment and, from the very early days of this State, it has been the moment we have chosen to commemorate as marking the birth of our sovereign nation.”

He added: “2016 belongs to everyone on this island and to our friends and families overseas.

“It is an invitation to join us in remembering our past, reflecting on our achievements over the last 100 years and to reimagine our Republic for future generations.”

Some unionists have voiced concern that glorification of the rebellion lends legitimacy to the PIRA campaign of violence and also to current dissident republican terrorism.

In his new year statement UUP leader Mike Nesbitt reiterated his party’s intention to mark the centenary “by exploring the causes and consequences” of it.

In September he linked ongoing paramilitarism to the Easter Rising, citing the conclusion of the Royal Commission which found that the rebellion was caused by the authorities turning “a blind eye to violence” in Dublin.

In his new year message DUP MP Gregory Campbell warned that his party wanted to build for the future “while not letting people rewrite the past” around the rebellion.

Just before Christmas, Fr Seamus Murphy, a Jesuit priest and a philosophy professor at Loyola University in Chicago. argued that the rebellion “passes none of the ‘just war’ criteria ... it had a pagan love of war and blood-sacrifice, and it attacked important political common goods”.