In the shadow of Dublin Castle, which for so long had been the headquarters of British rule in Ireland, the minister and Rising relatives stood side by side at 1.15pm as they observed a minute’s silence in honour of those who died.
A century ago, Sean Connolly fired the first shot of the Rising as he and his colleagues took over City Hall — and many of them gave their lives in battle.
However, in keeping with the tone of this weekend’s commemoration events, Mr Flanagan — who was taking part in simultaneous wreath layings by ministers at key sites to mark the historic date — said the events should honour all people, and encourage a more inclusive Irish society to grow.
Speaking beside Dublin lord mayor and Sinn Féin councillor Criona Ni Dhalaigh, Mr Flanagan told the crowd of ordinary citizens, tourists and 1916 relatives that Ireland must remember “the ideals they [those who fought] stood for”.
“I believe it is appropriate we place 1916 in the larger international context of the time, the fact that not only were Irish people involved in fatalities but we also recall many of our fatalities in Europe [during World War I],” he later told journalists.
“It was a time of great change and great conflict, not only here in Ireland but in Europe. I’m very pleased that the centenary events are in something of a contrast with the 50th anniversary in 1966. The events of this weekend are far more sensitive to various strands that make up Irish history.
“The greatest legacy of 1916 was the actual implementation of the ideals of the Proclamation, and 100 years later many of its sentiments are still a work in progress,” he added.
Mr Flanagan’s comments were made at one of seven simultaneous wreath-laying events at key rising locations to mark the first shots fired at 1.15pm yesterday.
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At the Four Courts, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Chief Justice Susan Denham placed wreaths where much of the fighting took place and where volunteers heroically saved the lives of those captured after a burst pipe led to flooding in cells.
In the former Boland’s Mills, now in Dublin’s re-built docklands, Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe and Eamon de Valera’s grandson Fianna Fáil’s Éamon Ó Cuiv lay wreaths to honour those who gave their lives to mount the rebellion.
Similar events took place at the former site of Jacob’s Biscuit Factory where the national archives offices and DIT Aungier Street now sit; the South Dublin Union which is now on the grounds of St James’ Hospital; Moore Street; and St Stephen’s Green by ministers Alan Kelly, Richard Bruton, Heather Humphreys, and Leo Varadkar.
While Heritage Minister Ms Humphreys was heckled due to the ongoing Moore Street site controversy, the remaining locations saw dignified responses to what happened.
Underlining the tone of the commemorations, Mr Varadkar and Ms Fitzgerald both separately said there are opportunities to act on the Proclamation’s unachieved goals, while Mr Varadkar noted with concern how 23-year-old Margaret Skinnider — a sniper in the Rising — had to fight a second battle for “equal rights before the law” in later years because her gender meant she could not receive the military pension.
Ms Justice Susan Denham touched on the same topic, saying 276 women who have in the past been written out of the Rising story, 40 children who died, and civilians should also be remembered by those honouring the fight for freedom.