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Irish president honors victims of 1916 Easter Rising

The Irish president has paid tribute to the men and women who gave their lives for "freedom." Saturday's ceremony marked 100 years since a key armed rebellion against British rule paved the way for independence.

Irish President Michael D. Higgins on Saturday laid a wreath at Dublin's Garden of Remembrance, a memorial "dedicated to the memory of all those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish freedom," during a ceremony marking the 100-year anniversary of the Easter Rising.

A minute of silence was held to honor the victims killed by British forces during the uprising. Relatives of the victims were also present for the ceremony, according to Irish public broadcaster RTE.

Easter Monday, April 24, 1916, marked the beginning of an armed insurrection vying for freedom from British rule. The six-day rebellion left nearly 500 dead, more than half of whom were civilians, and thousands injured.

The Easter Rising is cited as a pivotal moment in Ireland's history, one that effectively paved the way for a war for independence from Britain.

"With the benefit of rich and recent scholarship, we can appreciate in a way the complexity of the historic moment that was the Easter Rising. We can now acknowledge the diverse identities, backgrounds and experiences of those who participated in it, as well as the varied ideologies and beliefs that motivated them," the Irish president said in his St. Patrick's Day message published online.

"We also recognize that - whatever their differing priorities - all of these men and women were one in their commitment to rejecting empire," Higgins added. "All of them were determined to achieve independence, and to proclaim a free republic with equal rights and opportunities for all its citizens."

RTE reported that over 200 venues organized activities to mark the centenary, with lectures, performances, film screenings and a new exhibition at the historical General Post Office in Dublin.

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