This year's Easter Monday parade to Deansgrange Cemetery was the biggest yet, with several hundred people taking part. The parade was the final part of a weekend of commemorative events organised by local republicans. These events included a guided tour of Kilmainham Gaol, a kick-fada competition for children and the erection of an information display panel at the assembly point of the parade. Local resident Rita O'Hare, who is also Sinn Féin's representative in Washington DC, delivered the main oration at Deansgrange.
Large crowds enjoyed the favourable weather at commemorations in Tralee and Listowel on Easter Sunday. The Listowel commemoration was addressed at the Republican Plot in Listowel Cemetery, by Sinn Féin North Kerry county councillor, Martin Ferris, who also spoke at the Tralee commemoration later that day.
It had been intended that Ferris would speak in Waterford, while Tyrone Assembly representative Francie Molloy spoke in Kerry. However, due to the outbreak of FMD in Tyrone, Molloy made a late decision not to travel south.
Tralee attracted approximately 300 people, who marched from the Pikeman Memorial in the town to the Republican Plot at Rath Cemetery. Wreath layers on the day included one Mrs Collins - 84 years young and a former member of Cumann na mBan.
Martin Ferris said that the struggle of the Volunteers of 1916 is continued by the IRA of today. He said that the 1981 Hunger Strikes will be remebered in the same light as the 1916 Rising. ``Until we achieve our ultimate objective of an end to partition and British jurisdiction, and Irish unity and independence, our struggle continues.''
Republican former prisoner Ella O'Dwyer addressed the crowd attending the Limerick City Easter commemoration in Mount Street on Sunday.
Proceedings were chaired by Pádraig Malone, cathaoirleach of the Clancy/O'Callaghan Sinn Féin Cumann, and a wreath was laid at the Republican Plot by former POW Eddie Butler. A wreath was also laid at the graveside of Volunteer Seán Glynn, an IRA member not buried in the Republican Plot.
Throughout the commemoration, the Special Branch spied on the crowd and later stopped and questioned a number of Limerick republicans. Limerick Sinn Féin PRO, Muiris Ó Súilleabháin, speaking afterwards, questioned the use of taxpayers' money to harass republicans.
To much disappointment, the annual Drogheda Easter 1916 commemoration was cancelled due to news of further FMD outbreaks across the Six Counties.
However, a commemorative mass went ahead in the Parish Church and the Lourdes Brass Band, which normally leads the commemoration procession, instead accompanied St Peter's Male Voice Choir at the service.
A small gathering was held at the Halpen and Moran Monument in the town, where wreaths were laid. Of note, say local republicans, was the continuation of a steady increase in the number of young people attending the commemoration each year.
A commemoration to mark the 80th anniversary of the deaths of brothers John and Patrick Watters took place on Easter Saturday.
The brothers were shot by Auxiliaries, outside their home in Quay Street, Dundalk, in June 1921. Wreaths were laid at the scene of their assassination, on behalf of Sinn Féin and Óglaigh na hÉireann.
Sinn Féin Dundalk Urban District Councillor Seán Kenna addressed the crowd. He said that the sacrifice of the Watters brothers, that of the 1916 Rising soldiers and of their successors in the Hunger Strike of 1981, was being commemorated by more and more people today. ``Today we see more people becoming republicans. Our political strength is growing and our ability to achieve Irish unity and independence increases every year.''
The annual Easter Commemoration in Dundalk was cancelled this year due to the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) crisis.
A wreathlaying ceremony took place instead at the republican plot in St Patrick's Cemetery on Easter Sunday. Louth County Councillor, Arthur Morgan said that he regretted that the commemoration had been greatly curtailed due to the FMD crisis. However, he said that republicans must, like others, act responsibly.
Mayo Sinn Féin held Easter commemorations in Ballycastle, Ballina, Islandeady and Kilkelly this year to mark the 85th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. Sinn Féin National Executive member and the party's candidate for Mayo in the next general election, Vincent Wood, was the speaker at these events.
``Those who came out in 1916 and subsequently were men and women of principle,'' he said. ``When we look around at the current political landscape, principle is in short enough supply. The most recent revelations of dirty dealing and political chicanery around the time of the so-called arms crisis outline in stark terms that many of the leadership of Fianna Fáil at that time held no more that a rhetorical support for the concept of unity. Jack Lynch's claim that they would not stand by while northern nationalists were being attacked by loyalist mobs led by the RUC was just such rhetoric. The rabid anti-republicanism of the likes of Des O'Malley triumped, alas, and this conflict was prolonged as a result.''
The annual Easter 1916 Commemoration in County Monaghan was scaled down this year in response to the Foot and Mouth emergency. The Easter Sunday commemoration began with the laying of a wreath at the Fearghal O'Hanlon memorial on the Clones Road by Cllr. Brian McKenna, Cathaoirleach of Monaghan County Council.
Speaking in Latlurcan Cemetery, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, reacting to current revelations, said: ``This week's new information about the Arms Trial of 1970 shows a government which at first dithered, then authorised armed aid to nationalists in the Six Counties, and then drew back again and scapegoated its own members and servants who carried out its wishes.
``Yet again, as the controversy was renewed this week, many commentators deliberately ignored the reason arms were sought in the first place, which was to defend the nationalist community as it endured pogrom and murder and the largest movement of a civilian population in Western Europe since the end of the Second World War. Those who stood idly by in 1970 also stood idly by in 1981.
``As the only All-Ireland party Sinn Féin is at the cutting edge of political change in our country today. A general election approaches in the Six Counties in June, with one to follow at some time within a year in the 26 Counties, and the old familiar anti-Sinn Féin chorus is being heard throughout the land once again. The Irish Independent expresses concern at our growth. In the Dáil deputies from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour share a megaphone to taunt our solitary TD. As electionitis sets in there is no doubt that the chorus will grow louder. But we take comfort from that. It is a sign of our growing strength and of the worry among the leaderships of the larger parties at the political alternative and electoral challenge which we now pose. I am confident that after the next general election they will require an even louder chorus to try to shout us down because they will be confronted by a team of Sinn Féin TDs in Leinster House.
``A general election in the 26 Counties may come at any juncture between now and June 2002. Whenever it comes we are ready. The Sinn Féin organisation in Counties Monaghan and Cavan is on an election footing. I believe that the general election will be the most significant for our party in this State since partition. I am confident that here in Cavan/Monaghan and in other key constituencies the people will give us a strong mandate and ensure a major advance for Sinn Féin. By your work you will make that happen.''
On Easter Sunday morning wreath-laying ceremonies took place at Clara, Carrickroe, Clontibret, Brian MacUaid, Corcaghan, Raferagh, Trinity (Rockcorry), Tyholland, Castleblayney and. On Easter Saturday there was a ceremony at Inniskeen.
This year's Drumboe Commemoration on Easter Sunday had to be moved indoors to the Holiday Inn in Letterkenny, County Donegal, because of the Foot and Mouth crisis. The proceedings were led by Jim Dignam, who told the crowd of 300 that the wreath laying at the Drumbe execution site would go ahead in private after the public gathering in the Holiday Inn so that the unbroken tradition from 1924 at the site of the killing of the four IRA volunteers would remain intact.
The main speaker was Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, who told the audience ``we are not here to merely pay homage,but to publicly state that we all need to do more to realise our republic''.
Since 1916, he said, countless nations have won their freedom, many of them from Britain's grip. Many of them cite Ireland as their inspiration,their catalyst, he said, yet here we were in 2001 and we had not realised the ideals of 1916.
The evidence was huge that ``we've been doing something wrong'', he said. ``People must decide to do something more.'' He asked: `` Is there anywhere in this island where the vision of 1916 is realised? Only in Sinn Fein is the vision of 1916 held true.''
The key tenet of Republicanism is in the word itself he said. That is 'public'. ``The people are sovereign - that is the core of Republicanism - that is what makes us republicans.'' Describing the hunger strike year of 1981 as ``our 1916'', he counselled not to see Bobby Sands and his comrades as extraordinary men on a pedestal. ``They were ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances. If we do that then we can emulate their commitment. If we deify them then we think that we can't be like them.''
He said that the message of the Hunger Strikers was that ``the human spirit can rise above itself for an ideal''. He added that ``today isn't about reminiscences, this is about building for the future. It is about clearly outlining the kind of republic we want.''
He called on everyone had to take ownership of the negotiations. He also called for the release of all Republican prisoners, including the men currently held in Castlereagh. He saluted this generation of republicans who had struggled for longer than any previous generation of republicans. ``Has the British government defeated the Republican struggle? No! But it isn't enough not to be beaten. We have to win. The people of this island have to win. Are you doing enough? Well, do a wee bit more. Liberate our struggle.'' The ovation was long and warm.
Sinn Féin Árd Comhairle member Jim Gibney and local cumann chairperson Gerry Hanratty spoke at the Wexford Easter Sunday commemoration, which culminated at the Republican Plot in Crosstown Cemetery.
Wreaths were laid at the plot and also at the graves of Philip Kelly and Jack Dunne. A wreath-laying ceremony was also held in Rathangan at the graves of Volunteers James Byrne and Michael Gleeson, who died in the Saltmills explosion, and in Murrintown at the Radford and McCarthy graves of volunteers who lost their lives during the Civil War. This year, for the first time, there was also a wreathlaying ceremony at the grave of Joseph Whitty in Ballymore, the only Wexford man to die on hunger strike. His sacrifice was made in the Curragh Camp at the end of the Civil War.
On Monday, Enniscorthy town held its annual commemoration, parading from Rafter Bridge to St Mary's Cathederal. Addressing the gathering, local councillor John O'Dwyer spoke of the organisation and future direction of Sinn Féin in Wexford and the potential for electoral success in the area. Former POW Gerry Hanratty said that this potential would only be realised through teamwork and dedication.
Jim Gibney recalled the 1981 Hunger Strike and said that we should educate our younger generation on the horror of that time, so that it can never be repeated.