Republican News · Thursday 27 April 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Big crowds in Belfast

With the predicted rain showers staying away, Easter Sunday in Belfast turned out to be a sunny and dry affair.

The fair weather meant that the family groups that usually line the route of the parade from Beechmount to Milltown cemetery turned out in large numbers.

Members of the National Graves Association were to the fore as the parade moved along the Falls Road and prominent among them was Alfie Doherty, father of hunger striker Kieran Doherty. Kieran was elected as a TD by the voters of Cavan/Monaghan in 1981.

It was fitting therefore, that Kieran's election agent at the time, Caoimhghín O'Caoláin from Monaghan Town and the present Sinn Féin TD from that constituency, was the speaker for this, the 84th Anniversary of the Easter Rising.

The last time Ó Caoláin spoke in Milltown was on 4 August 1981, ``one of the saddest days in our history,'' he said. ``It was my task to deliver the graveside oration to Kieran Doherty, who died after 73 days on hunger strike in the H Blocks of Long Kesh.''

O'Caoláin commented on the County Antrim memorial, the centrepiece of the republican plots in Milltown and which lists those who died in the fight for freedom since in 1798.

``The names on the memorials remind us of the continuity of struggle in this county from the foundation of the United Irish Movement up to our own time''

Commenting on the political impasse caused by the British government's decision to collapse the Executive, O'Caoláin said: ``The British government drove a Saracen armoured car through the Good Friday Agreement when they collapsed the institutions.

`There is one way and one way only to save the Good Friday Agreement and that is for the British government to reinstate the institutions without delay. In doing so it must give clear undertakings that it will not collapse those institutions again. The British government must live up to its commitments including the disbandment of the RUC and the establishment of a new police service; the implementation of the full equality agenda across all areas of public life; and the complete demilitarisation of the Six Counties. All British troops with their military barracks, posts and watchtowers must be removed from our countryside, from our streets and from our island.

``Some will say ``What of decommissioning? What of the guns?'' I say, let them rust in peace.

``If implemented in full, the Good Friday Agreement is still a vehicle for change.''

He warned the British that the republican leadership would not stretch the republican constituency or ``sacrifice republican unity and integrity on the altar of British expediency''.

Concluding, Ó Caoláin said: ``We have nurtured a dream in our hearts that will be a reality in the lives of our children. Our legacy will be their freedom.''

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