British Direct Ruler Theresa Villiers was accused of a “final, carefully calculated insult” to Ireland’s republican martyrs in a ceremony of Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin last Monday, March 31st.
Villiers was speaking as a foundation stone was put in place for a giant cross to commemorate the 208 Irish-born British servicemen and women who died during both World Wars and are buried at Glasnevin.
The cemetery is the hallowed site where very many Irish patriots who struggled against British rule are buried, including Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Collins, Eamon de Valera, Arthur Griffith, Maude Gonne, Kevin Barry, Roger Casement, and Constance Markievicz.
In her statement Villiers in the graveyard, Villiers said “soon people from both Northern and Southern Ireland will have a place to come together in quiet contemplation to pay tribute to the memory of those, from across the whole island of Ireland, who gave so much for our freedom.”
Republican Sinn Fein’s Sean O Dubhlain condemned her remarks. “What exactly does “our freedom” mean? It’s certainly not Irish Freedom she was referring too as Martin Corey and others know only too well,” he said.
The ceremony came ahead of an official state visit by 26-County President Michael D Higgins to London next month. The visit is being described by government press officers as the “final step to normal relations” between the two states.
A royal banquet at Windsor Castle will be held to mark the event, the first ever formal state visit by an Irish President to Britain. Reports have suggested that Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness will be among the Irish and British celebrities and dignitaries in attendance.
Mr O Dubhlain claimed the ceremony and the new “monumental cross” at Glasnevin were “part and parcel” of a plan being hatched “to bury the legacy” of the 1916 Easter Rising as the centenary approaches.
“By cementing the normalisation of relations between the two states before Irish Freedom is achieved, they are paving the way for even greater collaboration beyond 2016,” he said.
“Possible outcomes are limitless for these ancient tyrants of our nation. An “all-island” neo-colonial police force and Ireland united but fully enmeshed within the commonwealth are but two potential outcomes.
Thousands of Irishmen were led to their slaughter by Britain in World War 1 under the promise that they would be “fighting for the freedom of small nations” in a “war to end all wars” and that Home Rule would be granted to Ireland.
Mr O Dubhlain said they had been “lied to”. He said his party called on the people of Ireland to “finish the unfinished business of our forgotten revolution and reclaim our denied birthright to sovereign and unfettered independence.”