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President marks 'Easter Covid-19' in live broadcast from Aras garden

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President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina lay a wreath

President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina lay a wreath

President Michael D. Higgins and his wife Sabina lay a wreath

The annual ceremony in Dublin to mark the anniversary of the Easter Rising 1916 was, unsurprisingly, unlike any that came before.

Led by President Michael D Higgins, it was broadcast live from Aras an Uachtarain and the GPO at noon yesterday, with Covid-19 restrictions being strictly observed.

Last Thursday, in advance of the Easter commemorations, Mr Higgins said: "This Easter will be unlike any we can remember. This weekend, we must do things differently."

The ceremony began with the ringing of the Peace Bell by Mr Higgins at the Aras, and the playing of a piper's lament.

He also laid a wreath by a group of 16 birch trees which had been planted by himself and his wife Sabina in honour of the revolutionaries executed after the 1916 uprising.

This year marked the 104th anniversary of the event.

The laying of the wreath was followed by a minute's silence, for both those who died in the Rising and victims of Covid-19.

In another phase of the ceremony, a prayer of remembrance by the head chaplain to the Defence Forces, Fr Seamus Madigan, in the GPO inner courtyard, called for special remembrance of all the people who have passed away as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak.

"As we commemorate the sacrifice of those who died during 1916 and gather in their memory, we pray for our country, our people and the challenges of these times, remembering especially those who have died as a result of the Covid-19 virus," .

Solidarity

The event was attended by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, who said on social media that the United Nations flag was flying on O'Connell Street to mark Easter Sunday.

He said it was "a symbolic gesture" to show Ireland's solidarity with the UN and the countries of the world fighting Covid-19.

The proclamation was read by Captain Darren Reilly from Ballinamuck, Co Longford in front of the GPO. The national flag was then raised to full mast.

Meanwhile, today at 5.55pm, RTE 1 will broadcast a short Easter Monday ceremony, 'Ireland Remembers' in honour of all those who have died at this time.

The pre-recorded ceremony will involve a wreath-laying at the cruciform pool in the Garden of Remembrance by five individuals of varying ages and representative of some of the agencies assisting with the pandemic.