Huge crowds expected at Easter Rising parades and services of remembrance across Northern Ireland
A parade marking the Easter Rising of 1916 is expected to draw huge crowds in west Belfast tomorrow.
Organised by the National Graves Association in Belfast, thousands of volunteers will assemble in Hamill Street at 12.30pm before marching to Milltown ceremony where a ceremony of remembrance will be held.
Those marching with the parade will be wearing period dress, and will include horsedrawn carriages, uniforms and memorabilia of the time.
It's understood that among the marchers will be former republican prisoners and representatives of the GAA who will be lead by an Irish wolfhound, leaving Divis Tower at 12.15pm.
The march will mirror the main Easter parade in Dublin which is expected to attract a crowd of up to half-a-million people.
Along with the Belfast and Dublin parades, many separate events are planned to mark the Easter Rising across Northern Ireland both today and tomorrow.
On Easter Sunday in Derry, a number of smaller commemorations will take place in Shantallow, Creggan, Waterside, Bogside and Brandywell. Parades involving pageantry and period dress will then leave from these areas to meet on Westland Street at 2.30pm before joining the main parade to the City Cemetery.
In South Down, events today will include a proclamation reading re-enactment in Rostrevor at 3pm and a parade in Downpatrick at 5pm.
Tomorrow, parades will begin in Newcastle at 2pm and in Castlewellan at 4pm. In Newry a parade will gather at 12pm at Patrick Street before a remembrance ceremony at St Mary's Cemetery.
A number of political leaders in Northern Ireland have voiced their objections to some of the planned events.
The Justice Minister David Ford turned down an invitation to the Dublin parade saying he was "uncomfortable" about the Republic of Ireland "marking the efforts of those who engaged in violence".
Tom Elliott, the Ulster Unionist MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, said he believed individuals planning parades in Clonoe and Coalisland were glorifying violence.
"Unionists do not believe that the 1916 Easter Rising had any justification and certainly any commemoration should be lawful and respectful," he said.
"This is, however, a world away from what appears to be planned for Clonoe and Coalisland this weekend at an event run by an organisation styling itself the 'National Republican Commemoration Committee'."
Mr Elliott said the group had erected billboards and distributed leaflets which he believed encouraged violence.
He quoted one of the leaflets said to be written by the group which read: "It is our opinion that while the denial of national self-determination and British occupation continue, so too will armed revolution."
Mr Elliott said: "This is language which justifies violence as a legitimate political tool."
Earlier this month, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he hoped the 1916 commemorations would be a chance for reconciliation.
Speaking at an event at Queen's University, he said: "The 1916 commemoration should be seen as an opportunity to promote mutual respect and parity of esteem.
"As republicans we must make a huge effort to engage people from the unionist community in 1916 commemorative events."
Mr McGuinness added: "Our words of reconciliation must be matched by our presence at key commemorative events that are important to the unionist community."