National day of pride
The Irish Independent
YESTERDAY Ireland marked the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising with dignity, solemnity and style. The military parade in Dublin, and the mood surrounding it, were a world removed from the sometimes bitter and petty arguments about the revival of the event after a lapse of more than three decades.
Ninety years is a long time. The Rising is for most, and should be for all, a matter of history, unrelated to current politics. Sadly, the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein have consistently tried to appropriate it along with other nationalist symbols. Yesterday Bertie Ahern reclaimed it.
He did not reclaim it for the Fianna Fail Party - though he might have chosen a better occasion than a Fianna Fail ard fheis to announce the reinstatement of the parade. He reclaimed it for everyone. If he thought to achieve some party advantage, there was no indication at yesterday's impressive and carefully orchestrated ceremonies.
For the all-embracing nature of the event, for the dignity and solemnity, the organisers are to be congratulated. For the style - which also had a tremendous bearing on the meaning conveyed - the military authorities deserve the congratulations.
Probably more than half the population took no interest in the closeness of the drill, the proficiency of the marching bands, or the efficiency of the armaments. But nobody could have failed to notice the emphasis placed on the most impressive activities of our defence forces in half a century.
In that time, they have served with the United Nations around the world. They have made themselves a reputation as supreme peacekeepers. They have proved their courage and professionalism in the cause of humanity.
That is perhaps the best answer for those who doubt if a military parade was an appropriate means of commemorating 1916.
Now a discussion has begun on whether the celebrations should be expanded in the years of more "dress rehearsals" for the centenary in 2016. It is a tempting thought. It may be more to the point to ask if we should also commemorate the First Dail in 1919, the 1921 truce, our formal independence in 1922 . . .
But commemorations cannot be multiplied endlessly. For now, we can take pride in the spectacle of an army that threatens nobody, in a country committed to settling every political question by democratic means.
1916 commemoration - Rising can inspire the new Ireland
The Irish Examiner
THE commemoration yesterday of the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising was, in the words of Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, “a day of remembrance, reconciliation and renewal”.
It was also, he reminded his listeners, about discharging one generation’s debt of honour to another.
There is, indeed, a prodigious debt to discharge, one whereby the ultimate sacrifice of the men and women of Easter Week bequeathed an Ireland which ranks independently, and not without influence, today among the community of nations.
Despite the pomp and ceremony of wreath laying at Kilmainham Jail and the GPO by the Taoiseach and President Mary McAleese, and the trappings of the 2,500 members of the Defence Forces, Navy, Air Corps, Garda and United Nations veterans, it was not a day of triumphalism.
Rather it was an occasion to publicly regain and acknowledge the memory of Ireland’s inheritance from those patriots of 1916 for the modern day inheritors of their sacrifice, and to honour it.
Apart from the official functions carried out to mark the 90th anniversary of the Easter Rising, tens of thousands of ordinary citizens gathered in Dublin for the military parade to commemorate it.
As such, it was the first Easter Sunday parade by the Defence Forces in the capital in 35 years. When it was proposed to hold this year’s parade, debate about the period and how Ireland should acknowledge its anniversary was sparked.
During the early 1970s, because of the Troubles, the military parades were abandoned and official commemorations became more low key, because the commemoration recalled the 1916 Easter Rising attempt to seize the capital from British imperial forces.
British troops put down the rebellion and many of its ringleaders were captured and executed.
From that anguished genesis emerged the nascent Ireland, which the rest of the world has witnessed ascend to command its own sovereignty and sit with other nations to influence the course of world history.
The country has, indeed, matured politically and socially. The spirit of 1916 and the ideal of a united Ireland now resides in the reality of the Good Friday Agreement and the implementation of what it seeks, which is peaceful coexistence along mutually accepted lines and institutions of cooperation.
It is the will of the majority on this entire island that those objectives be achieved through constitutional and inclusive politics and without the indulgence of divisive and entrenched sectarianism.
Irrefutably, this country has progressed immeasurably during the previous nine decades, and because of them.
It has achieved a highly successful economy which is a model for others to emulate, especially in emerging countries in the European Union, whose enlargement to 25 nations this country presided over.
That is not to say that the men and women who helped found this State would give their imprimatur to all aspects of Irish society, were they able to revisit it today.
There are blemishes on the face of modern Irish society wherein inequalities are allowed to flourish because many people have not had the benefit of the Celtic Tiger.
It would be a fitting tribute to those men and women honoured yesterday if injustice and poverty were eliminated - or at least pursued - in this modern and pluralist Ireland of today.