Hundreds parade along Falls Road as Belfast marks centenary anniversary of Easter Rising
SEVERAL hundred people marched along the Falls Road in west Belfast to commemorate the 100th calendar anniversary of the Easter Rising.
The parade, organised by the Easter Rising Centenary Committee, was an attempt to unify all shades of republicanism in a single parade to mark 100 years to the day since the Rising began.
However, the crowd was considerably smaller than the large numbers which lined the same route for the main National Graves Association parade in Belfast, held on Easter Sunday.
Departing from Barrack Street, where it was joined by bands and supporters from north Belfast, the parade made its way along the Falls Road en route to the Harbinson Plot in Milltown Cemetery.
Several prominent republicans, including former hunger striker Gerard Hodgins, watched on as the parade left Barrack Street.
Headed by a colour party dressed in traditional Irish Volunteers uniform, flute bands and marchers carrying photos of the Rising leaders followed close behind, mingling with supporters of all ages.
As the parade made its way past the International Wall on the Falls Road, there was another timely reminder of the divisions between republicans on a march that was supposed to bring them together.
A poster showing an IRA gunman beside the message "Loose talk costs lives" had re-appeared on the wall, days after being removed.
An image of unionist leader Edward Carson and the Ulster Volunteers was paint-bombed again on Thursday - the second time in the last few weeks, amidst reports of threats having been made against artists working on the wall.
The parade came to a halt at the garden of remembrance on the Falls, as the colour party stopped to salute the republican dead.
Tourists also walked alongside the march, some of whom followed the parade all the way to Milltown, while a small number of residents watched from their doors.
Another Easter Rising event was leaving Milltown Cemetery as the first participants of the Centenary Committee event were arriving.
A spokesman for the Easter Rising Centenary Committee told the younger members of the crowd that he "hoped they would be here to organise the 150th anniversary."
He said: "It is our hope that this day be marked in the same way as July 4th in the US and Bastille Day in France.
"They (the Rising participants) held on for six days...they inspired people of other countries to throw off the shackles of their British masters.
"The republic proclaimed in 1916 has still not been realised. Six counties are still under British occupation."
The names of some of the republicans from Ulster who gathered in Coalisland 100 years ago to participate in the Rising were read out, along with a poem and the last words of the seven signatories of the Proclamation.
The commemoration ended with a minute's silence and a rendition of Amhrán na bhFiann by the Carrick Hill Independent Flute Band.