Eighty-four years ago this coming Monday, to the very day, a band of heavily outnumbered but determined Irish revolutionaries struck a blow for freedom. The 1916 Rising was put down within a week, but the repercussions it caused have lasted much longer.
Out of the ashes of that defeat arose the Irish Republican Army and Sinn Féin which, side by side, took on the British forces in Ireland in earnest between 1919 and 1921, eventually forcing their supposed colonial masters to the conference table.
The unfinished business of those negotiations led to a bitter civil war and almost 80 years of partition, injustice, and British interference on this island.
This weekend, republicans throughout Ireland will gather to commemorate our dead and to reflect on the current political situation. An undefeated Irish Republican Army today reiterates its commitment to achieving an enduring and a just peace, but the actions of the unionists and the British government give scant cause for optimism that the peace process, so hard worked for by republicans, can be resurrected.
In 1918, the Irish people turned out and overwhelmingly backed Sinn Féin's demands for freedom and independence. In 1998, the Irish people again turned out en masse and voted for the Good Friday Agreement. Just as the unionist establishment and the British government rejected the wishes of the Irish people at the beginning of the century, today they are again responsible for vetoing progress and ignoring the Irish people's mandate.