British government praises Ireland for 'inclusive' 1916 centenary celebration
Published 26/03/2016 | 19:44
Britain has praised the Irish Government for marking the 1916 Rising centenary in an inclusive way.
Northern Ireland Secretary of State Theresa Villiers said she appreciated efforts to celebrate the 100th anniversary while promoting reconciliation.
"I recognise the significance of this weekend for Irishmen and women across the world," she said.
"Whatever one's perspective, I welcome and appreciate the efforts of the Irish Government to ensure that the centenary of the Easter Rising is marked in ways that are inclusive and designed to promote reconciliation."
The commemorations began with officials in Dublin insisting that they would be rooted in respect and inclusivity.
Conscious of the innocents who were killed in crossfire, the limited support for the rebellion at the time and political sensitivities in Northern Ireland, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys said the events are for reflection and celebration.
"The 1916 Rising was the seminal moment in our history, which set Ireland on the path to independence," she said.
"This weekend, we will respectfully remember all of those who lost their lives; those who took brave and fateful decisions and those who simply got caught up in the conflict.
"The weekend's events are rooted in respectful commemorations."
Ms Humphreys highlighted a number of key events over the next three days and what they represent.
"The parade on Sunday, the largest ever in the history of the State, will be a magnificent spectacle with a particular focus on our Defence Forces and their proud peace-keeping tradition," she said.
"Through ceremonies at the Garden of Remembrance, Kilmainham Gaol and at various garrisons, we will remember those who gave up their lives in the pursuit of Irish freedom."
Ms Humphreys added: "When considering what Ireland has achieved over the last 100 years, we have a lot to be proud of.
"Ireland is one of the oldest continuous democracies in the world; and for a nation of our size we continue to make a considerable and positive impact internationally."
As well as the state sponsored celebrations, more than 2,500 community events are planned across Ireland to mark the historical milestone.