Cloud-filled gray skies over Dublin yesterday meant the Air Corps’ traditional flyby over the GPO to mark the 1916 Easter Rising could not take place.
But it wasn’t raining for the hundreds of people who lined O’Connell Street to pay their respects to the men and women who lost their lives 106 years ago when the Republic of Ireland was first proclaimed.
The motorcade of President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina arrived at the historic building in the heart of Dublin city center just before noon.
Upon arrival, Mr Higgins inspected the Honor Guard provided by the Defense Forces before taking his position in front of the GPO. Taoiseach Micheál Martin, Defense Secretary Simon Coveney and Dublin Mayor Alison Gilliland had previously arrived.
Justice Secretary Helen McEntee, Prime Minister Whip Jack Chambers and Secretary of State James Browne were in a group with former Fianna Fáil Senator Donie Cassidy.
Just a few months ago, Mr. Cassidy overcame his own personal struggle when all charges relating to the infamous Oireachtas Golf Society dinner in Clifden, Co. Galway were dismissed by the District Court.
Fianna Fáil TD Paul McAuliffe and Independent Dublin City Councilor Nial Ring were also among those in attendance, who also included the families of those who fought across the city during the Rising.
Once the dignitaries were in place, the tricolor was lowered over the GPO and Private Vincent Murray of the 27th Infantry Battalion played a whistler suit for those who lost their lives during the battle at O’Connell Street and elsewhere in the city.
Commander Daire Roache read the proclamation signed by the Provisional Government in 1916.
The President then laid a wreath. The event ended with the raising of the tricolor to full mast and a rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann.
After the ceremony was over, Mr and Mrs Higgins mingled with the crowd that had gathered to honor those who fought in the Rising.
After the respectful commemoration, there were no speeches, press conferences or political statements.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald tweeted a photo of the GPO with the caption, “The City That Fought Empire.”
However, Ms McDonald was not in Dublin but was up north for the Easter Rising commemorations in Belfast where she was the keynote speaker.
She noted how the men and women who led the uprising “looked beyond the confines of their present to the horizon of tomorrow.”
“You dared to dream the big idea for Ireland, the big idea that was elegantly spelled out in the proclamation,” she added.
While celebrating the achievements of the insurgency against the British, she also said it resulted in “an arbitrary line on a map”.
She said the division meant that people in the north were “disconnected and left to the oppression, discrimination and dominance of the Orange State”.
Ms McDonald’s speech touched on the issue of Irish unity and she appealed to those on the other side of the debate, saying: “For those with a Unionist tradition, I sincerely say we seek a partnership with you.”
She appealed to trade unionists on the grounds that they had been abandoned by the UK government, saying unity could “mean full freedom to make all the decisions here, in a parliament here, for the people who live here”.
She did not let the speech go by without criticizing the Taoiseach and the Tánaiste, who she said “continue to bury their heads in the sand” on Irish unity by refusing to hold a town hall meeting to end partition set up on the island.
She said Sinn Féin would start one if she was in government in the South.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/men-and-women-who-lost-their-lives-at-the-1916-easter-rising-are-honoured-at-gpo-ceremony-41562311.html Men and women who died in the 1916 Easter Rising are honored at the GPO ceremony