Easter statements and speeches
The full text of the major speeches and statements released to commemorate the 1916 Rising by the main republican political parties and groups.
SINN FÉIN EASTER SPEECHES 2012
(Abridged speech delivered by Gerry Adams, Bandon, County Cork)
The Proclamation of 1916 continues to enthuse and motivate Irish republicans. Its message of freedom and equality, and of cherishing all the children, is as relevant today as it was then.
But a counter revolution and partition created two reactionary states on this island which the conservative political, church and business elites shaped to protect their self-interests.
Successive governments in Dublin actively worked to pacify national feelings and to subvert republicanism while paying lip service to its principles.
Corruption replaced idealism. Family dynasties, party connections and donations to political campaigns all entrenched this corruption. Fianna Fáil – and its TACA generation is blamed, and rightly so, for much of what occurred but it does not stand alone.
The other establishment parties colluded by deed or silence in all of this.
As they now collude in promoting austerity policies. Their policies are a total contradiction of the 1916 Proclamation.
Citizens are paying for the greed of bankers and the bad policies of the former Fianna Fail/Green government. This is wrong. This government boasts of not raising income tax while introducing one new stealth tax after another.
The universal social charge, introduced by Fianna Fáil and pursued by this government; the household charge, water charges; septic tank charges; VAT increases; the reduction in wages while consumer prices rise; fuel increases – and billions cut from public services – all of these and more are tearing the heart out of communities.
The domestic economy is on the floor. People are worried about paying their bills, putting food on the table and keeping a roof over their heads.
And all this while Labour is in government! What value Labour if it cannot protect citizen’s rights?
Employees at Vita Cortex in Cork, in Game shops around the state and at Lagan Brick in Cavan have been forced to hold sit-ins in an effort to get the money owed to them.
The resolve of all of these workers, particularly at Vita Cortex, is to be commended and applauded.
Say No to Austerity
After one year of Fine Gael and Labour in government it is obvious that the austerity policies of this and the last Fianna Fáil-led government are not working.
That is one good reason for opposing the Austerity Treaty in the May referendum. This Treaty would entrench austerity policies in the constitution.
That’s not the vision of 1916. It is the complete opposite of the Proclamation.
It would mean another significant reduction of our sovereignty and a handover of the democratic rights of Irish people to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels, Strasbourg and Frankfurt.
Fine Gael and Labour, backed by Fianna Fáil, want to hand our future over to them! That’s not in the interests of the Irish people. The Austerity Treaty must be opposed.
I would appeal to the 50% of citizens who refused to pay the Household Charge and the many others who were coerced and bullied into paying it to make a stand against the government’s austerity policies by voting No in the referendum.
A New Start
Today people are looking for an alternative they can trust. Sinn Féin is that alternative.
Sinn Féin has developed effective, costed policies which provide a different and fairer way to tackle the economic challenges.
Key to this is job creation and growing the economy. Our approach is based on fair taxes, investing in jobs, debt restructuring and growing the all-Ireland economy. It is about protecting public services and those on low and middle incomes. Our policies are based on core republican values.
Towards a New Republic
Irish republicans come from that long and honorable republican and internationalist tradition which seeks to unite Irish citizens and break the connection with England.
Tone captured its spirit when he wrote of “a cordial union among all the people of Ireland, to maintain that balance which is essential to the preservation of our liberties and the extension of our commerce.”
This is Sinn Féin’s starting point – a belief in a new union – a cordial union of all the people of this island.
Built through reconciliation.
To achieve re-unification will require the consent of a majority of people voting in referenda North and South.
To secure this Republicans need:
· To popularise re-unification as viable, achievable and in the best interests of all and to build consensus for this.
· To encourage all non-unionist political parties and sections of civic society to become persuaders and actors for re-unification.
· To convince a section of unionist opinion that their identity, self-interest and quality of life will be best served, secured and guaranteed in a united Ireland.
· To challenge those who would seek to maintain the status quo.
· To ensure the Irish Government act on the constitutional imperative of re-unification.
· To encourage the British Government to become persuaders for re-unification.
· To build on international political and practical support for re-unification drawing in particular on the support and influence of the diaspora.
Ireland north and south is changing. We are an island people in transition. The north is particular has been transformed in recent years.
In this state more and more people realise that we do not have a real republic.
Uniting Ireland makes economic sense. It will bring jobs, create prosperity and deliver a better standard of living for this and future generations.
So, the people of Ireland need to plan responsibly for the future direction of politics on the island. To do that we need a fully inclusive and rational debate.
(Speech by Martin McGuinness, Drumboe, County Donegal)
I thank the Republicans of County Donegal for the opportunity to address you on this the 96th anniversary of the Easter Rising of 1916. It is a privilege to join with you as we recall the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and pay tribute to all those who have given their lives in the cause of Irish freedom. We make no distinction between the men and women of 1916 and the men and women of 1981. We honour equally the Republicans who fell in the years of struggle 1916 to 1923 and those who gave their lives in our own era since 1969.
To the families, friends and comrades of all those who died we extend our continuing sympathy and solidarity.
We are gathered at a poignant and historic place, the scene of a tragedy of the Irish Civil War. Charlie Daly, Seán Larkin, Daniel Enright and Tim O’Sullivan were put to death on this spot by Free State forces. They stood against the disastrous Partition of our country. James Connolly predicted that the Partition of Ireland would lead to a carnival of reaction. The four martyrs of Drumboe were among the victims of that carnival of reaction which saw thousands imprisoned and interned on both sides of the border, scores of prison executions and roadside killings of Republican prisoners and pogroms against the nationalist population in the Six Counties.
Charlie Daly, Sean Larkin, Daniel Enright and Tim O’Sullivan were executed because they remained firm in their allegiance to the All-Ireland Republic proclaimed in 1916. The Easter Rising is the defining event and the Proclamation of the Republic is the defining document in the history of Irish Republicanism. You have heard the Proclamation read here today. Our task is to apply its principles to the Ireland of 2012 and to build a new Republic on this island.
There are key turning points that change the course of every nation’s history. In Ireland, the 1916 rising was such an event as was the hunger strike of 1981. The Good Friday, St. Andrews and Hillsborough Agreements, and the IRA statement that the war is over were other such landmarks on a road that I firmly believe will lead to Irish reunification.
The historic engagement we are now involved in with unionism within the political institutions provides a solid basis upon which to move forward to a new future for politics on this island.
Sinn Féin is different from other political parties and is proud of that fact and determined to remain so. For us politics is not just about winning seats or achieving ministerial posts. Sinn Féin is a party born in struggle with our membership and elected representatives coming from the communities most under the strain of political and economic exclusion North and South. We must always understand and reflect the needs of people struggling to survive in their daily lives. That understanding and connection with our community is the bedrock of our struggle.
Here in County Donegal, the people have spoken, the election of Pearse Doherty and Padraig MacLochlainn just over a year ago have placed our party in the leadership of this proud Republican County, The Elections saw spectacular growth for Sinn Féin and with further gains for our Party in the Assembly elections shows that as the only all-Ireland party with substantial electoral support we have now, in a decisive step in the last year moved into the mainstream of Irish political life throughout all 32 counties,
We gather here at a time of great challenge in Ireland. Hundreds of thousands of people are struggling to survive. Tens of thousands of our most talented young people are leaving our shores. It is unacceptable and the direct result of the actions of corrupt political and business elites whose actions have been laid bare by the Mahon and Moriarty Tribunals.
Partition created two conservative states on our island. They served the needs of the political elites north and south instead of the needs of ordinary citizens across the island. That is why the southern establishment was happy to pay lip service to a united Ireland and why some continue to do so.
Republicans have a different vision. We believe there is a better way. A re-united Ireland and a New Republic built in the interests of citizens is the future.
There is massive potential for Republicans in the time ahead. The Good Friday Agreement has levelled the political playing field. Unionism no longer has a veto over Irish unity.
The Government of Ireland Act by which Britain claimed a part of Ireland has been repealed. While Orangeism may remain, the spectre of the Orange state has gone, and it will never return.
We are in an entirely new situation legislatively and constitutionally. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement the British Government has agreed to legislate to end its jurisdiction over the North of Ireland if a majority of people in the North want it.
In that context, republicans have a responsibility to reach out to unionists and to others to engage with them about the nature and form of the future structures on this island. The development of an all-island economy is clearly in the interests of everyone in Ireland. The construction of the new Radiotherapy unit in the North-West will be of huge benefit to the people of Donegal, Tyrone and Derry. We stood by this commitment and we delivered it. We also stood firm and are delivering on the new first class roads from the North-West to Dublin and Belfast with construction to begin in a few months time. These are but two of the many initiatives which bring mutual benefits North and South that can improve the lives of our people no matter what their political or religious affiliation
We seek a united Ireland in which the unionist section of our people feel comfortable and play a full part in the life of the nation. I believe that it is possible for unionists and republicans to stand together without dilution of our beliefs. As was stated to me very clearly by a unionist Leader, ‘Martin we can rule ourselves. We don’t need direct rulers coming over from London telling us what to do’. That statement provided common ground on which we can all stand. We must be open to practical ways of giving expression to the unionist sense of Britishness within a united Ireland.
In the discussions leading to re-unification we will be imaginative in terms of passport rights, symbols and other issues of identity crucial to building a fully inclusive united Ireland respecting the traditions of all our people in all their diversity.
Unionist participation in large numbers at our Uniting Ireland conferences is most encouraging and proves that a large section of unionist opinion is willing to contribute to the debate on the new politics which the Good Friday Agreement has brought. We also must listen to what unionists say. We must truly act as nation builders, and peacemakers. That means always stretching ourselves and always taking risks to advance the task of building a new Ireland.
All Republicans have an obligation to participate in this task. This means, first of all, firmly rejecting sectarianism, bigotry and violence in all its forms – no matter what its source and no matter what its target.
Secondly it means engaging in positive and active dialogue with unionists and demonstrating to them, not just by our words but by our deeds, that equality means equality for all – not just for nationalists and republicans but for all those who share this island.
Ireland as a nation can only truly prosper if we are at peace with ourselves as a people. It means overcoming the historic fracture between Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter. In the Ireland of 2012 it means building a pluralist, ethnically and culturally diverse society that embraces all citizens.
I want to deepen and expand my role to lead the process of national reconciliation in Ireland – a process that I believe is already underway. There is now a greater tolerance of difference and diversity which is borne out of better understanding of each other.
I am very confident in my Irishness. I am also very aware of my responsibilities as the deputy First Minister and very conscious that I am elected as deputy First Minister for all people – I take that responsibility seriously particularly to the unionist community.
I am also very conscious of my responsibility as a Republican leader –to defend and promote the integrity of our struggle.
Let the message go out very clearly from Drumboe today – Sinn Féin will not be deflected from the historic work we are engaged in. We are the Nation builders. We are not motivated by self interest or personal gain. We have set ourselves high standards and even bigger goals – but we are determined and we are united. We are the engine driving historic political, social and constitutional change on this island.
I urge each and every one of you to be part of that movement for real change in our country, for social and economic and cultural freedom, for a real Republic embracing all 32 Counties and all of our people.
Many of you are supporters of Sinn Féin who assist in elections and fundraising and who attend commemorations and other events such as these. I ask you, if you have not already done so, to take the next step and to join Sinn Féin.
Play your part, have your say, empower yourself and your community. Encourage your friends and family to join Sinn Féin. We need a mighty movement across this land to reach our goal of freedom and unity.
We are on the road to freedom. If we go forward together, firmly united and in greater numbers, we will complete our historic task — a united Ireland and a New Republic.
An Phoblacht Abú!
REPUBLICAN SINN FÉIN EASTER STATEMENT 2012
(“Easter Statement from the Leadership of the Republican Movement”)
On the occasion of the 96th anniversary of the momentous Easter Rising of 1916 the Leadership of the Republican Movement sends greetings to Irish exiles throughout the world and to all Irish Republican prisoners.In particular we salute the prisoners in Maghaberry Prison, Co Antrim who have been on protest for political status for two years this Easter. The British, and the Stormont regime which includes our former comrades who have accepted and now administer British rule in the Six Occupied Counties, entered into an agreement with the prisoners in August 2010 to end strip-searching.
They reneged on that arrangement. They never implemented the alternative of the BOSS chair and so the no-wash strike continues. Even the secretary of the prison warders’ union has stated publicly that the protest should be settled.Meanwhile there is a publicity black-out on the plight of the prisoners while their comrades outside do their utmost to support them. The political status won at such great cost by the heroic hunger strikers was signed away as just another of the many surrenders to English rule in Ireland by the Provo leadership.
The state visit by the British monarch to the 26 Counties in the past year – the first such in 100 years – was intended to normalise British rule in Ireland and put the seal on the current sell-out of the Six Counties to England. Republican Sinn Féin’s protests on that occasion delivered a clear message.Empty streets in Dublin and carefully-selected audiences elsewhere showed the performance to be a failure. Yet the Establishment persists in calling it a “success”. But the reality was on the ground – and at a cost of €38 million for security.
Then in February the GAA sold out its independence and the ideals of its founders when it accepted a massive amount of English money — £61 million in sterling or €77 million euro – to develop Casement Park in Belfast. Roger Casement got the English hangman’s rope but those who use his name allow themselves to be exploited by Stormont just as others contribute to the city of Derry – historic Doire Cholm Cille – being the British “City of Culture” in 2013. Those who pay the piper undoubtedly call the tune!
As the centenary of the fateful Easter Rising of 1916 approaches the intentions of the Leinster House establishment become clearer to all. They want to combine commemorations of 1916 with those for members of the British forces involved in the imperialist World War I.
Republicans must clarify the issue for the Irish people. We salute the memory of those who died for Irish freedom. Others can pay homage otherwise to their dead, many of whom were forces for economic reasons to take part in the 1914-18 “war to end all wars”.
A further step has been taken to integrate the 26-County state forces into the British war machine with the announcement that RUC soldiers are now suitable to join the ranks of the 26-County police even up to top level. These new arrangements will bring the British forces back south of the Border 90 years after they were driven out by the men and women we honour today.
At the same time a combination of the International Monetary Fund, the EU Commission and the European Central Bank is dictating the pace for many years to come in eroding the limited sovereignty of the 26-County state. Undue hardship is being wantonly inflicted on ordinary people while the well-off continue to thrive.
The good name of the Republican Movement, valid since 1986, is under attack again. Criminality masquerades as Republicanism and confuses the Irish people. The name of Republican Sinn Féin and of the Continuity IRA have even been stolen by a minuscule local grouping in its reckless attempt to bewilder further those who stand for the full freedom of Ireland.
The people who rejected constitutionalism and reformism and stood staunchly by the revolutionary road when it was deserted and betrayed in 1986, have upheld the banner of Irish Republicanism down the years. They merit the support of Republican-minded people even as the no-wash protest continues in Maghaberry Jail.
Martin Corey of Lurgan, Co Armagh, who spent 19-and-a-half years in a British jail in the 1970s and 1980s, was returned to prison two years ago. He is now spending his third Easter in jail on no charge whatever. It is nothing short of internment again. Republicans and their followers who support Martin and the prisoners on protest have been brought before British courts in the Six Occupied Counties for holding peaceful demonstrations on the streets.
Let us, in our turn, stand by the same Cause, the Cause we uphold today, the Cause of Pearse, Connolly and the men and women of Easter 1916!
An Phoblacht Abú. Long Live the All-Ireland Republic.
MAGHABERRY PRISONERS EASTER STATEMENT 2012
(“Republican PoWs Maghaberry” - RSF)
It is a great honour that we, the Republican POWs here in Maghaberry, have this opportunity once again to address you, the people of Ireland and abroad, on this the 96th anniversary of the 1916 Rising. We extend Easter greetings to our comrades, friends and supporters throughout the world, and would also like to thank Republican Sinn Féin and CABHAIR for all the work done on our behalf. We extend special greetings to our families whose support is invaluable.
As you gather at the graves and monuments of Ireland’s patriot dead you do so with great courage, unbowed and unbroken but mindful of the fact that the road ahead has never been harder. But as true Republicans we have never turned our backs on our struggle.
Those of us imprisoned at home and abroad have been so for our political beliefs. Our belief in the Proclamation of 1916 and all that it entails is steadfast and will remain so. As you are aware we the Republican POWs commenced protest action coming up on a year now. This decision was not taken lightly and is a direct result of the non-implementation of the Agreement which was signed on August 12, 2010.
This agreement was signed by Republican POWs in good faith. It had become clear that the British Government and their relevant departments had no intention of implementing the agreement they signed. Once again the British Government has embarked on a criminalisation policy within this concentration camp against Republicans and as such we had no alternative but to commence protest action.
We are Prisoners of War; we cannot be broken or criminalised and any such attempt to do so will be met with resistance. Our protest will continue until we see the full implementation of the August 12 Agreement.
We thank our families, Republicans and comrades for their renewed and continual support.
We, the Republican POWs, applaud those who took to the streets in protest in our name Once again we pledge our full support to the Leadership of Óglaigh na hÉireann and our comrades-in-arms who continue to fight for Irish freedom. We salute you.
We, the POWs, continue to resist all attempts by the NIO to criminalise us and our struggle and with your continued support we are confident of victory. In the words of Liam Lynch “we have declared for a Republic and will live by no other law”.
Continuity not compromise.
Tiocfaidh ár lá.
32 COUNTY SOVEREIGNTY MOVEMENT EASTER STATEMENT 2012
(Gary Donnelly, Derry)
The 32CSM would like to thank all of you for attending and all who travelled from near and far to be here. We send solidarity greetings to fellow Republicans and to all those who struggle against oppression and Imperialism. We would also like to pay special tribute to our honorary National Secretary Marian Price who may be absent here today, interned in a British cell but who is always in our thoughts.
It has been nearly 100 years since the Irish Volunteers and their comrades in the Irish Citizens Army marched out in unison to declare a Republic and to defend it through any means necessary. We are here today to remember their sacrifice and the sacrifice of all those who died struggling to realize that aim.
The past 100 years have seen many changes, however the underlying political problems which motivated the men who marched out that April morning remain. The twin presence of imperialism and capitalism continue to cast a long shadow over the lives of the Irish people. Republicans stand here today continuing to defy those who demand submission.
The past year has highlighted the extent to which the six county state remains an outpost of British oppression. We have seen the continuing harassment of Republican families, the return of the supergrass system, internment and the inhumane treatment of Republican prisoners in British jails. The targeting of our families has shown up the PSNI as the inheritors of the RUC’s shameful legacy.
Children are being brought into a political conflict, not through the actions of Republicans but by the trauma they have suffered at the hands of the PSNI. The searching of children as young as five and six has been admitted as a regular occurrence by this police force that we are expected to embrace as one which is here to defend our community. The actions of the PSNI have not only resulted in a new generation rejecting their presence it has also shown that no British force in Ireland will ever be utilized for anything other than to repress dissent.
The 32CSM challenges those who defend these servants of the crown, to explain what Republican argument exists that defends the right of the PSNI to traumatise children and harass activists promoting the Republican political message.
The return of supergrass trials is a timely reminder that little has changed in the six counties. Old tactics are being revived despite being totally discredited and contrary to the very notion of due process. Although these efforts have so far been aimed at Loyalists it is obvious that should they prove useful they will then be utilized against Republicans. The 32CSM stands resolutely against this system of paid perjury.
As in the case of Marian Price the British government have already proved that should there be no case to answer in court then they will dispense with the judicial process. Internment is alive in 2012 and its victims are filling the wings of Maghaberry prison. Marian has been interned now for the best part of a year in isolation for her political opposition to the Stormont regime.
She was intended to serve as an example by the British, a warning to all who dare challenge their right to rule in Ireland. Instead Marian stands today as an inspiration to all who refuse to bend the knee in the face of oppression. The 32CSM will continue to rally around Marian and we urge all Republicans to do likewise. We also send greetings to the prisoners on protest in Maghaberry. They have shown that in the words of Volunteer Bobby Sands “They have nothing in their whole imperialist arsenal that can break the spirit of one Irishman who refuses to be broken”
The prisoners in Maghaberry are standing by the Republican position. This is the same position that the 32CSM has always stood by, that the Republican struggle is a legitimate political one whose adherents will not be criminalised. The 32CSM has since our inception put forward a consistent and logical political argument. We believe that the fundamental source of conflict in Ireland remains the violation of Irish Sovereignty through the occupation of the six counties. As such all our actions, positions and future endeavours are underpinned by the reality of the occupation.
In the past two years there has been a clamour of numerous individuals, religious figures and political personalities rushing to call for Republicans to engage in dialogue. They have presented Republicans as unwilling to talk or as criminals devoid of any political argument. This is a distortion of history and an attempt to mask their true intentions. The 32CSM has sent our policy positions which are publicly available to all political parties In Ireland. No one can claim that we have failed to make public our position. Those seeking to engage in dialogue with Republicans have given no basis for which such talks should take place. This is because they have no intention of addressing the core issues of the conflict.
The narrative that is being peddled by the establishment is one of Republican violence and refusal to engage politically with the Stormont regime. Republicans however have consistently pointed to the British presence as the source of conflict. The only legitimate basis for engaging in discussion is to talk about the removal of the occupation. Other secondary issues can then be engaged with as outlined in our policy.
Today we say to the British government, their allies in Stormont and those calling for dialogue, the IRA are not the source of conflict, they are a response to an illegal occupying force. The suppression of republican political activists by the state is no accident. They seek to undermine the political nature of Republicanism. They fear our argument not only because it is consistent but because there is no way to accommodate it within the occupation. Republicans cannot and will not engage with the institutions of partition and those who do have no right to claim the label Republicans.
We are fast approaching the centenary of the Easter Rising; however next year will mark 100 years since the 1913 strike and lockout. In 1913 it was Irish capitalists supported by the British government supressing the working class. Capitalist oppression has no limitations of nationality. These coming years should be a time for Republicans to reflect on the social struggle and its intertwining with the goal of national liberation.
Irish Republicans have not always given the social struggle its proper place within the wider movement. This has been to the detriment of our cause and has seen us too willing to make compromises which have betrayed the working class from which we draw our support. The 32CSM has committed itself to the establishment of a sovereign Republic. We accept the analysis of James Connolly, that without the twin destruction of Capitalism and Imperialism in Ireland then there can never be true freedom.
The inescapable conclusion for all Republicans must be that just as Imperialism is politically bankrupt so is Capitalism morally bankrupt. We do not believe that replacing the union jack with a tricolour will be a sufficient resolution for the ordinary people of Ireland. We also recognize the reformist and anti-revolutionary nature of constitutional nationalism. They will wrap themselves with the green flag whilst enacting Tory and IMF cuts. Whilst we recognize the integral role of the class struggle in National liberation we lament the failure of the broader socialist movement to recognize that without the removal of British occupation there will be no defeat of Capitalism.
The 32CSM understands that these are not easy times to be a Republican. We firmly believe that we have a solid framework available that provides for a New and better society in Ireland. We have placed ourselves at the heart of our communities to better defend their interests. We feel that increasingly republicans are faced with the option of doing what is right or doing what is easy. The unavoidable conclusion to reach when looking at former comrades in Stormont is that there is simply no constitutional path to a United Ireland.
In the coming months we will be expanding upon our social program and we ask all 32CSM activists and supporters to give their input into this effort. We salute the continued resistance efforts by the volunteers of the IRA, their courage and resilience in the face of such odds stands as an example to all Republicans. We urge all of you to go from here today and to continue your activism on the streets and in our communities. We will continue to grow and our message will continue to serve as an opposition to those who urge conformity instead of resistance, subservience instead of revolution and slavery instead of freedom.
Onwards to a Sovereign Republic.
EIRIGI 1916 COMMEMORATION SPEECH
(Daithí Mac an Mháistir, Belfast)
Ar dtús báire ba mhaith liom mo fhíorbhuíochas a ghabáil do éirígí Béal Feirste as ucht iarraidh orm teacht anseo inniu chun labhairt ar an ocáid cuimhneacháin seo ar Éirí Amach na Cásca 1916. Go raibh maith agaibh.
Is ollmhór an onóir dom bheith i gcroí-lár ghluaiseacht na Poblacta, Iarthar Bhéal Feirste, i measc laochra na saoirse – i measc shaighdiúirí na Poblacta on nglún seo agus ó na glúin a tháinig romhainn atá ina luí sa chré thart timpeall orainn, agus libshe, na daoine uaisle a choimeádann muinín sna cuspóirí álainne ar son a thug said a gcuid saol luachmhara.
Firstly, I would like to express my sincerest thanks to éirígí Béal Feirste for inviting me here today to speak on this the occasion of the commemoration of the 96th anniversary of the 1916 Rising.
It is a true honour to be here in the heart of Republican West Belfast amongst the heroes of Ireland – amongst the martyred soldiers of Ireland from this and previous generations who are buried here in the hallowed grounds of this cemetery – and amongst you, the noble, risen people who have kept faith with the objectives for which they gave their precious lives.
I would particularly like to take this opportunity to salute the memory of Volunteer Daniel Burke, of the Irish Republican Army’s Belfast Brigade, 1st Battalion, who died on active service on this day in 1974.
We come here today on this Easter Monday not alone to reflect and remember, but to recommit also.
While it is important to reflect upon and remember the heroism and sacrifice of those we are gathered here to commemorate, what is required more than anything today is that we recommit to strive & struggle in whatever way we can for the realisation of the Irish Socialist Republic that the Easter Rising in many respects proclaimed.
It is for this objective and nothing short of it that Ireland’s pantheon of freedom fighters fought and died throughout the last hundred years.
Re-committing ourselves to this objective is the only form of homage appropriate to the memory of those who fell in that fateful week in 1916, and in all subsequent periods of struggle for Irish freedom.
Ireland is not free, and recommitting ourselves to actively struggling for its freedom is the only logical way to conceive of this objective being realised.
It will not fall from the sky, nor will it be achieved through wishful thinking or attempts to kill unionism with kindness. Neither will it be achieved by the donning of sackcloth and ashes, or by talk of reconciliation with the forces of reaction.
Given the fact of the ongoing occupation of the six-county area and the catastrophic effects that the crisis of capitalism is having on people right across Ireland, it should be self-evident to all right thinking people that the goal of revolution in Ireland is as justified and necessary today as it ever has been. It is certainly the case that more and more people are coming to believe this.
In recognition of this reality, it is essential that we prepare our forces in earnest for the coming period of struggle before us. The class struggle is at its most heightened in decades. The battle lines are drawn very clearly for all to see between the ‘masters of the universe’ and the ‘wretched of the earth’.
We must prepare our forces well because we have ‘a world to win’ and our enemy is strong.
We must redouble their efforts to build a revolutionary movement that is capable of sweeping away once and for all the rotten edifice that is the political and economic system in Ireland, north and south. In this regard we are firmly of the belief that the primary, and as yet still elusive, objective of the glorious Rising of Easter week – that being the liberation of the people of Ireland – is impossible under capitalism.
In this regard, we are firmly of the belief that is impossible to talk of freedom under capitalism.
It is our firm belief also that we will have to fight is we are to successfully achieve our primary objectives of removing the British presence from Ireland and casting off the scourge of capitalism once and for all.
It will fall upon people just like those of us gathered here today to step into the breach and do the fighting – it will be people like us who come from the revolutionary Fenian tradition who will fight for Ireland’s freedom, or it will be no-one. It has always been this way.
Just as the men and women of 1916 struck out for Irish freedom, so too will this generation have to.
To come here and commit to do anything less or anything different than struggle for full Irish freedom would be an affront to the lessons and legacy of 1916, and to the memory of all those interred here.
By our deeds and actions we must show that we are as worthy of belonging to the same august tradition of service to the cause of Ireland’s freedom and the exaltation of its people as the martyrs we remember here today proved themselves to be.
If, as James Connolly noted, “The national movement of our day is not merely to re-enact the old sad tragedies of our past history, it must show itself capable of rising to the exigencies of the moment.
“It must demonstrate to the people of Ireland that our nationalism is not merely a morbid idealising of the past, but is also capable of formulating a distinct and definite answer to the problems of the present and a political and economic creed capable of adjustment to the wants of the future.”
In this respect we must set ourselves apart from those who pay lip service to the true meaning of 1916.
We must show the people that we are deadly serious in our commitment to a Socialist Republic, where our socialism will in practice equate to “the application to agriculture and industry; to the farm, the field, and the workshop, of the democratic principle of the republican ideal”, and not merely some vacuous, empty rhetoric about an ‘Ireland of equals’.
We are entering into a period of historical commemoration of the centenaries of some of the formative events of the last hundred years of Irish history, the 1913 Lock-Out and 1916 of course being two of the most significant for socialist republicans.
You can be assured that the establishment and the political parties that support and defend it will each vie to appropriate the legacy of the revolutionary period that spanned the years from 1913 to 1921.
Well. Let me say one thing with absolute certainty.
The volunteers of Easter week would be scathing of the hypocrisy of those who claim to be Republican yet practice politics that see them supporting a British police force that harasses Irish republicans preparing to remember their dead, as happened to éirígí activists here in this city and in Newry in the last week.
They would be scathing also of those who ”bubble with love and enthusiasm for ‘Ireland’, and can yet pass unmoved through our streets and witness all the wrong and the suffering, the shame and the degradation wrought upon the people of Ireland, wrought by Irishmen upon Irishmen and women, without burning to end it”.
They would be scathing too of so-called socialist republicans who endorse Tory slave-labour ‘workfare’ proposals from the vantage point of their Stormont ivory-tower committees.
These people are, are Connolly declaimed them to be, frauds and liars in their hearts.
We however know what we are. We are of the same faith as those who gave their lives in pursuit of the noblest of causes.
We have remained true to the fight to free humanity for evermore from the bonds of oppression and injustice.
Of 1916 it is indeed no exaggeration to state that ‘never had man or woman a grander cause, never was a cause more grandly served’.
Never was there a grander cause than the cause of freedom. Never was it more grandly served than by those who are buried here in Milltown cemetery.
The martyrs of the Irish freedom struggle, of 1916 and beyond, died that the nation might live; that the British political and military presence in Ireland be obliterated; that the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland be vindicated and made a reality; that a free People’s Republic take its rightful place amongst the nations of the world.
They have set the benchmark for all of us in struggle. Their sacrifice is an enduring reminder of the lengths that we must be prepared to go to in resisting that which is wrong and in attempting to bring about that which is right.
Their example is a testament to the fact that there can never be compromise with imperialism and occupation, and that there can never be compromise with injustice.
Their memory steels those of us who are dedicated to rebuilding a revolutionary socialist republican movement in that firm conviction. It steels us, to paraphrase Bobby Sands, “to fight back our tears and scorn our fears, and cast aside our pain. For loud and high we must sing our cry, ‘A Nation once again!’”.
I measc laochra na nGael go raibh a n-anamacha dílse uilig.
Beirigí bua agus Tiocfaidh ár lá.