Ireland marks centenary of uprising that led to independence

Commandant Pat O'Connor holding the Proclamation of the Republic outside the General Post Office, the rebels' headquarters, during the commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin, Ireland, yesterday.
Commandant Pat O'Connor holding the Proclamation of the Republic outside the General Post Office, the rebels' headquarters, during the commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin, Ireland, yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

DUBLIN • Thousands of members of Ireland's armed forces marched through Dublin yesterday to mark 100 years since the Easter 1916 uprising launched the country on the road to independence from Britain five years later.

The rebellion has been described as a "triumph of failure" because, while the rebels surrendered and were executed after five days, their uprising galvanised the independence movement, hastening the end of hundreds of years of British rule.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny oversaw the commemorations in an acting capacity after his coalition government failed to secure re-election on Feb 26, creating a political stalemate that has shown little sign of resolution.

Mr Kenny watched yesterday morning as the Irish flag was raised at the site where the leaders of the rebellion were shot dead.

The Rising remains controversial for some who criticise the commemorations for celebrating Irish militant nationalism.

The First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster refused to take part in commemorations, saying the Rising was used to justify Irish Republican Army (IRA) violence in the 1970s and 1980s.

While the IRA disbanded after a 1998 peace deal, police in Belfast warned of a "severe" threat during the commemorations to security forces by dissident nationalist militants opposed to continued British rule in Northern Ireland.

Tens of thousands lined streets in Dublin to watch the parade snake past strategic buildings seized by poorly trained insurgents in their audacious attack on the British administration in the middle of World War I.

The rebels' proclamation of independence was read at their headquarters, the General Post Office. The rebels surrendered near the building under heavy British shelling after five days.

Mr Kenny's Fine Gael party was criticised by rivals for what they said is a cautious embrace of the rebels' legacy after a video to commemorate the Rising featured rugby players and the British Queen but none of the insurgents.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2016, with the headline 'Ireland marks centenary of uprising that led to independence'. Print Edition | Subscribe