Saturday 26 May 2018

Army seeking to hire fleet of 172 coaches to transport soldiers to 1916 rehearsals

Soldiers parade on O’Connell Street in 1966 during celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Rising
Soldiers parade on O’Connell Street in 1966 during celebrations for the 50th anniversary of the Rising
President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Frank McGrath
Mark O'Regan

Mark O'Regan

The Army will hire a total of 172 coaches to transport hundreds of soldiers from various parts of the country to the Curragh for 1916 commemoration rehearsals.

A public tender request has just been issued for transportation of all relevant personnel to the Curragh camp.

Rehearsals at the Defence Forces Training Centre will take place in February and March, in preparation for a range of events planned as part of this year's centenary commemorations.

The training will focus on synchronising the movement of troops in ceremonial formations, dress, drill and deportment.

In a statement to the Irish Independent, a spokesman confirmed the coaches will be used to transport "large numbers of troops" from various barracks throughout the country.

He said existing army transport facilities will be used as back-up and to also provide logistical support and security.

The tender outlines that each coach must be able to accommodate a soldier's personal items including some military equipment.

The coaches will also have to be "fully valeted and polished" and troops must also be allowed consume "pack lunches" on board, it stated.

The Army spokesman said it is not possible to provide the estimated cost of hiring the fleet of coaches as of now, because the tender process "is still open".

The centenary programme is built on seven strands, which reflect themes such "remembering, reconciling, presenting, imagining and celebrating".

The first strand, 'State Ceremonial', represents the formal and solemn marking of 1916 by the citizens of Ireland as a historical event.

The Defence Forces - whose history can be traced back to the Irish Volunteers in 1913 - are central to the events scheduled under this strand, where the principal focus will be on Easter week.

On Easter Sunday, soldiers will participate in State ceremonies in Glasnevin Cemetery, the Stonebreakers Yard in Kilmainham Jail - where the leaders of the Rising were executed - and in the GPO.

The GPO ceremony will comprise a reading of the Proclamation and the laying of a wreath by President Michael D Higgins on behalf of the people. A minute's silence will be observed, followed by the sounding of the 'Last Post' and the raising of the national flag.

This will be followed by a Defence Forces parade including the Army, Air Corps, Naval Service and UN Peacekeeping personnel. Members of An Garda Síochána, Dublin Fire Brigade, the Ambulance Service, the Irish Coast Guard, the RNLI, Civil Defence and the Defence Forces Veterans Associations will also take part.

The parade will start at St Stephen's Green and end at the Garden of Remembrance, and will involve approximately 3,000 participants.

Meanwhile, Mr Higgins has said this year's ceremonial events will shed light on the key role writers played during 1916.

"It is a time that will throw into sharp relief the crucial role that writers played in their different ways and at different times.

"As we examine our past, it is our writers who so often enable us to understand the multifarious experiences that intertwine, beneath the surface of any defined era or phase of a nation's history.

"It is the ability to bring an era and place alive in all its everyday joys and sorrows that places generations in debt to the great writers."

He was speaking at the Irish Writers Centre in Dublin, where he announced six new ambassadors of the centre - John Banville, Anne Enright, Marian Keyes, Joseph O'Connor, Éilis Ní Dhuibhne and Roy Foster.

Irish Independent

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