Ireland marked the centenary of the Easter Rising against British rule on Saturday with a remembrance ceremony and a state reception for hundreds of relatives of people who joined the 1916 rebellion.

President Michael D Higgins laid a wreath before a one-minute silence was observed at a midday ceremony in Dublin's Garden of Remembrance.

Acting Prime Minister Enda Kenny and senior ministers also attended the remembrance ceremony, joining about 700 relatives of 78 people who died in 1916, national broadcaster RTE reported.

"It is important that we bear witness, this centenary year, to all those who gave their lives during Easter 1916," Kenny said on Twitter.

Higgins attended a state reception that was expected to attract about 4,000 relatives of 1916 participants on Saturday evening.

He will lead the main commemorations of the Easter Rising on Sunday, including a ceremony at Dublin's General Post Office (GPO), where Padraig Pearse read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to join a parade through the city following the GPO ceremony.

Later on Sunday, Higgins plans to lay a wreath at the site where British forces executed many of the leaders of the 1916 uprising, before attending a state reception at Dublin Castle in the evening.

Speaking at the opening of an exhibition at the GPO on Friday, Kenny said Pearse's reading of the proclamation was "an act of brave defiance that lit the touchpaper leading to the culmination of centuries of struggle for Irish freedom," the Irish Times reported.

Pearse Doherty, a member of the Irish parliament for nationalist party Sinn Fein, said "a lot needs to be done" to achieve the aims of the 1916 rebels.

"We still have a part of our country (Northern Ireland) under British rule, and that is not what the leaders of 1916 stood for," Doherty told RTE on Saturday. "They wanted an all-Ireland republic."

In Northern Ireland on Saturday, about a dozen masked men and women dressed in military-style uniforms marched through the town of Lurgan led by a man carrying a large Irish flag, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said about 30 youths attacked officers with stones late Friday in the town of Newry.

In an interview with the BBC ahead of Saturday's events, Higgins said he hoped that "people in Northern Ireland will approach these commemorations generously."

Ahead of the anniversary, Higgins used his St Patrick's Day address to highlight "the complexity of the historic event 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," he said.

"Whatever their differing priorities, all of these men and women were at one in their commitment to rejecting empire," Higgins said.

"All of them were determined to achieve independence, and to proclaim a free republic with equal rights and opportunities for all its citizens."

Latest news

New Romanian justice minister named after anti-corruption protests

Romanian Prime Minister Sorin Grindeanu has named a former judge to be the country's next justice minister, after the previous office holder resigned under pressure from mass anti-corruption protests.

Le Pen's chief of staff indicted in European Parliament jobs probe

The chief of staff of Marine Le Pen, the far-right candidate for president in upcoming French elections, was indicted Wednesday over allegations of irregular reimbursements from the European Parliament, a judicial source told dpa.

Montenegrin police extradites Miodrag Jovic to Croatia

Montenegrin police reported on Wednesday that they extradited to Croatia Miodrag Jovic (48) from Glina, after whom Interpol Zagreb issued an arrest warrant.

Croatian minister attends CoMoCoSEE conference in Albania

Culture Minister Nina Obuljen Korzinek participated in a third conference of the Council of Ministers of Culture of South-Eastern Europe (CoMoCoSEE) that took place in Tirana on February 21-22.

New Somali president asks al-Shabaab to surrender to 'help' country

Somalia's newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo asked Islamist terrorist group al-Shabaab to surrender in order "to help rebuild" the conflict-ridden East African nation.

Serbia's EU negotiator says minority rights neglected

The head of the Serbia's European Union accession negotiation team, Tanja Miscevic, said in Novi Sad on Wednesday that minority rights had been neglected for many years and added that positive results in that regard cannot be achieved over night, the Beta news agency has reported. 

Scientists: Nearby star's 7 rocky planets are "best bet" for life

New analysis of telescope data shows a dwarf star just 40 light years from Earth has at least seven apparently rocky planets with potential to harbour water, an international team of scientists announced Wednesday.

Croatian PM receives EIB Vice-President

Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic met on Wednesday with European Investment Bank (EIB) Vice-President Dario Scannapieco for talks on the bank's contribution to a new investment cycle in Croatia and its support to the Croatian government to implement key projects, a press release from the government's office said.

Bomb explodes outside police officer's home in Northern Ireland

A bomb exploded outside a police officer's home in Northern Ireland on Wednesday but there were no immediate reports of casualties.

Denmark to charge man with blasphemy over burning Koran

Danish prosecutors said Wednesday they have opened a rare blasphemy case against a man who videotaped himself burning a copy of the Koran.

South Africa to raise taxes for the wealthiest

South Africa will raise the income tax rate for the country's wealthiest to 45 per cent from 41 per cent, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced Wednesday.

Reformist Macron wins support of key centrist leader for French vote

France's reformist presidential hopeful, Emmanuel Macron, got a boost on Wednesday when he picked up the support of a party leader whose centrist constituency played a pivotal role in the last two presidential elections.