#OTD in 1976 – Tens of Thousands defy a ban on commemorating the heroes of 1916 at the GPO in Dublin.

In 1976, the 60th anniversary of the Rising, the southern state and the republican paramilitaries – particularly the Provisional IRA were in frank confrontation.

The Irish government banned that year’s proposed Easter parade by republicans under the Offences Against the State Act – its anti-terrorist legislation. Just ten years after the state’s own bombastic commemoration of the Rising in 1966, it was an offence to even attend an Easter parade on O’Connell Street.

There was nevertheless a rally by Provisional IRA supporters, resulting in some disturbances. The Irish Times reported that some 10,000 people attended the banned rally, which marched from Stephen’s Green to O’Connell Street. A line of blue helmeted Gardaí was present and armed troops were on stand by should violence break out. While the rally was mostly peaceful, there were scuffles between Gardaí and protesters. Daithi O Conaill of Sinn Féin told the crowd to ‘put your faith in the Provos [PIRA] and Ireland will be free’.

Irish Times, 1976

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